Spread of Revolution

February 2, 2011 § Leave a comment

Political Map of North Africa and the Middle East

Protests in Tunisa inspired the ongoing Egyptian protests, and protests in Egypt inspired protesters in Yemen. Could neighboring Libya be next? Protests have been largely fueled by the Arab world’s youth, angry at the lack of economic opportunity available to them. The protests ousted Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak replaced his cabinet and agreed not to step down after the September 2011 elections and Yemen’s President Ali Abdullah Saleh announced he would not seek reelection in 2013, but both of these seem to be falling short of the popular demands. Meanwhile, King Abdullah II of Jordan dismissed his government and appointed a new Prime Minister on Tuesday, perhaps in a bid to get ahead of any possible protests there.

The events in Egypt are being compared to the 1979 Revolution in Iran and the “People’s Power” movement against Marcos in the Philippines in 1986. No matter what the outcome, this is going to have a dramatic impact on the course of world events from here on out.

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The Latest from Tunisia

January 22, 2011 § 1 Comment

Map of Tunisia published in CIA World Factbook and used under a CC License

Tunisian Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi said he would step down and make way for democratic elections. Ghannouchi took over when President Zine al-Abedine Ben Ali fled Tunisa for Saudi Arabia January 14th under pressure from protesters. Protests began when a young man set himself on fire on December 17th when town officials prevented him from selling vegetables in town. This set off a protest about unemployment, which spread quickly across the country, thanks in part to social media. The violent response from the authorities, with 78 people killed, only made things worse.

President Ben Ali had been hailed as the country’s savior when he kept the country from civil war in 1987. He spoke about individual liberties, but soon engaged in intense political oppression to keep any opposition parties from every gaining power. He did not allow anyone to complain against the government. During most of this time, Tunisia’s economy continued to grow and it wasn’t until the recent frustrations over unemployment and prices that frustrations boiled over and revolt was sparked. The Jihadists had nothing to do with this revolution. Secular opposition parties as well as Muslim parties were oppressed under Ben Ali’s regime, but it was the average citizens who started protests, upset at the economy and the violence of authorities.

Peter Beinart of the Daily Beast says that the case of Tunisia shows that democracy can spread without American influence, and Foreign Policy profiles 5 Middle Eastern countries it considers “ripe for Revolution.” Travel writer Judie Feinn says that, once things calm down, you should definitely put Tunisia on your list of places to visit.

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