Wednesday, January 26, 2011

People rising on Arab streets

photo courtesy of Jack Shenker and the The Guardian
What is happening on Arab streets is remarkable. From the overthrow of the US supported Tunisian government to civilian demonstrations and uprisings in Egypt, the people of Arab countries are rising up against years of political, economic and military suppression.
Jack Shenker is a reporter in Egypt for the UK Guardian and his live reports of the anti-government uprisings in Egypt can be read here. Of today's demonstrations he writes: 
A remarkable day in Egyptian history, one that could have vast  ramifications within the Arab World and beyond. Observers are now asking themselves how long the international community will continue to back  Mubarak – a key western ally, despite his penchant for torture and human rights abuses, and the recipient of more US financial aid than any country in the world except Israel. However things play out tomorrow,  it’s clear a crucial fear barrier has been broken today in Egypt; if that emboldens the millions of Egyptians who have long harbored latent hostility to the government and yet who have thus far been too afraid to confront it openly, then regime change could be closer than we think." 
Interesting also to read the thoughts of Sief Da' Na, Associate Professor of Sociology and International Studies specializing in the MiddleEast and North Africa at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside on the significance of events in Tunisia across the Arab world: 
 "Repercussions of the Tunisia example will be deep and significant and will be felt throughout the region. The uprising signifies not only the failure of the neo-liberal economic model that Arab regimes pursued, but also the futility of political oppression to enforce this model in the long run. The event signifies the beginning of a new era that must be seen as a process of change and might lead to the creation of a new region. The demands by people on the street we are seeing in Tunisia, Algeria, Egypt, Jordan and elsewhere are broad. They are political, economic, and social demands signifying the dead-end of a system that employed excessive political oppression to enforce destructive neo-liberal economic policies. Privatizing the public sector essentially reversed the post independence economic achievements of these countries, increased inequality, and created intolerable living conditions for a significant part of the population.  

    "This is not to say that these protest movements are necessarily going to change the region immediately. This is a process that might take time. But I think it is irreversible despite the massive security apparatuses (equivalent to 1.3 percent of the total population in Tunisia). In Egypt, which has been under a 'state of emergency' for 30 years, it is estimated that over 300,000 people are in the State Security [one of several organizations] alone, and more people are employed in the state security and police than the military.

No comments: