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Author Topic: Egyptian protests intensify, as clashes spread across the Middle East  (Read 1334 times)

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Online ZeitgeistTopic starter

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/egypt/8286969/Egyptian-protests-intensify-as-clashes-spread-across-the-Middle-East.html

Conjecturing here, but I wonder if what is happening in the Middle East of late is something larger, and looming. Sure, there have always been economic strife in the Middle East, but first Tunisia, then Egypt, and apparently in smaller degrees elsewhere.

They aren't burning American flags, or stomping on an effigy of the U.S. President this time. They are going after their own leaders.

It was perhaps, an idyllic, naive idea that if Democracy (If 'Democracy' chafes your anti-American sensibilities, replace it with Liberty or Freedom) took root in Iraq, it just might spread. Perhaps it is beginning to, on its own time line. Perhaps one has absolutely nothing to do with the other. Either way, it appears to me at least, something big might just be happening.

Offline Vekseid

Re: Egyptian protests intensify, as clashes spread across the Middle East
« Reply #1 on: January 28, 2011, 10:00:09 AM »
I didn't know Tunisia, Libya, and Algeria were part of the Middle East >_>

This is entirely about the price of food. The real price of food in these countries is increasing rapidly, but wages and subsidies are not being raised to compensate.

So people set themselves on fire for attention, get it, and the nation loses stability quickly.

Democracy is no protection from this, nor is it necessary for protection. You will note that Syria, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia are taking drastic measures to improve the quality of living of their poorest residents in light of these riots. It may be too little, too late. But there is a concern that we will not see democracies from this but rather more hard-line Islamist states like Iran.

You can convince people to give up a lot of 'rights'. Like the right to free speech or the right to vote.

Good luck convincing them to starve.

Offline Jude

Re: Egyptian protests intensify, as clashes spread across the Middle East
« Reply #2 on: January 28, 2011, 10:25:30 AM »
I sure hope something big happens to stabilize the region and bring them into the 21st century.  And although I didn't particularly care for Bush, I'd be delighted if he was right.  If Iraq started a ripple-effect that Democritized the Muslim world it would be the best thing that could possibly happen for world peace.  Even if America was only given a tiny shred of credit for that process, it would still be an amazing tribute to all of the lives lost (both on our side and civilians) fighting tyranny in Afganistan and Iraq.  Sadly, I don't think that's what will happen despite the fact that it's what I wish would.

In my opinion Democracy is a luxury that unstable societies cannot afford.  It also seems to be a concept that the culture needs to be properly prepared to embrace.  "Republics" are the only sensible form of Democracy for large governance, and they're only as strong as the education and empowerment of the people who are the source of that popular sovereignty.

It's so very easy for elected officials to appeal to bigoted sentiments, sectarian bias, and fear in order to usurp control of the disenfranchised masses when there is no entrenched cultural resistance to abuse of power.  The foundation for Democracy is secular humanism (not necessarily atheistic, just an emphasis on bettering the human condition now via secular means), and that's one renaissance the Muslim World still needs to experience for itself.

You can't force societal evolution.

Online ZeitgeistTopic starter

Re: Egyptian protests intensify, as clashes spread across the Middle East
« Reply #3 on: January 28, 2011, 05:50:42 PM »
I didn't know Tunisia, Libya, and Algeria were part of the Middle East >_>

Indeed, while Tunisia is North Africa, I do believe Egypt is considered the Middle East, certainly as being a part of the region. I wasn't really looking for a geography lesson, but duly noted. I didn't mention Libya or Algeria, but if they too like Tunisia are in immediate crisis, it's news to me.

Quote
This is entirely about the price of food. The real price of food in these countries is increasing rapidly, but wages and subsidies are not being raised to compensate.

So people set themselves on fire for attention, get it, and the nation loses stability quickly.

Democracy is no protection from this, nor is it necessary for protection.

You're correct, Democracy is no guarantee from poverty and hunger, but how many Democratic nations can list these as their primary challenge and concern? I would guess it's not many.

But to my larger point. Something is happening, something big. Remains to be seen if it continues to spread throughout the Middle East.
« Last Edit: January 28, 2011, 05:51:47 PM by Zamdrist of Zeitgeist »

Offline Vekseid

Re: Egyptian protests intensify, as clashes spread across the Middle East
« Reply #4 on: January 28, 2011, 06:50:11 PM »
India comes to mind (you might joke about India's quality of democracy, but still).

The protests hit Algeria and Libya before they did Egypt, but Egypt is obviously going to be the second country to fall.

Protests are also occurring in Yemen, Albania, Lebanon, and Jordan.

So yes, this is big. It may be an era defining event the way the fall of the Soviet Union was.

Offline Falcot

Re: Egyptian protests intensify, as clashes spread across the Middle East
« Reply #5 on: January 28, 2011, 10:16:30 PM »
The people are rioting but not because they want democratic rights its largely due to social unrest as mentioned above. I will say though that part of the world is and will always be uneasy because of the historical conflict within it. I am not being racist just stating the nature of the region and its history. Its actually a relief to see these people pine for their government to change things and may in fact as you mentioned help grease the wheels for modernization; but that process will take a long time because of traditionalism mainly (not that there is something completely wrong with that)

but taking the distant perspective; look at Maslow’s pyramid. if these people do not have the physical necessities to appease them they cannot even try to resolve the larger social issues that plague them. Give the world time

Offline Sandman02

Re: Egyptian protests intensify, as clashes spread across the Middle East
« Reply #6 on: January 29, 2011, 09:22:05 PM »
  I am cautiously optimistic, with an emphasis on the word "cautiously." Yes, there is revolt, but what it break through on the other side? I particular, I am thinking of Iran and Khomeini's fundamentalist revolution... The reason for my caution is because, in a political vacuum, it is not always the people's will that triumphs. Sometimes it is the radical elements of society that triumph because they do not hesitate to use fear and coercion.

  As for this stemming from a ripple effect originating from our efforts in the Afghanistan and Iraq Wars, I just don't see it. Like Vekseid said, the major impetus to these efforts was not enough bread (or money to buy the bread) going around...

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Re: Egyptian protests intensify, as clashes spread across the Middle East
« Reply #7 on: January 31, 2011, 01:32:15 AM »
         So revolutions are iffy...  The concern I have is, I don't see a way forward with the alternatives.  Either accept popular will in all its messiness, let people sort their issues out, or throw America in against the populace more "directly."  That is, as if sanctions for this regime and massive military to that for haven't counted for anything already -- but people in the region know very well they did.  Is there a middle ground left, besides sit back murmuring about "stability, please" and pretending we were never involved?

         The authoritarian regimes the US has generally been supporting may not "lead" their people so much as contain them.  Eventually, they hit an economic crisis or other political foible, and where does that leave the US?  We can't constantly intervene everywhere to prop up dictators against their own people in the name of that Hobbesian strategy Clinton lately refers to as "stability."  Particularly since we let our banks trash our own economy...   The notion that we ever fooled popular opinion in the Middle East about what we stand for is stretching rather thin.  Some quotes that struck me:

Quote from: Rime Allaf
http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2011/01/27/whats-behind-the-demonstrations-in-egypt/the-protests-in-egypt-show-a-sign-of-maturity

     With the futile habit of categorizing countries according to official U.S. criteria, the Arab world was watched with labels for moderates and radicals, allies and problem makers. Those differences came to a screeching halt when it came to internal affairs: from the Atlantic to the Gulf, Arab authoritarian regimes have been practically identical in their harsh rule, corruption, cronyism, stifling of freedom of speech and suppression of human rights. In every country, they imposed surreal personality cults with life-sized photos and statues galore while enjoying the fawning support of a profiteering elite and the defense of vast armies.

Washington pretended not to notice and separated the “good” dictators from the “bad," as they did the oppositions. The good regimes were needed, we were told, because the alternative would be chaos or -- even worse – Islamism! Oddly, the bad regimes justified their excesses and emergency laws with the exact same refrain.

Quote from: Helene Cooper
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/30/weekinreview/30cooper.html?pagewanted=2&ref=world

     America, said Robert Malley, a Middle East expert at the International Crisis Group, is in an impossible hole. “Every time we open our mouth, it runs a risk of hurting the objective we’re pursuing,” he said. “The more we appear to be backing the regimes we’ve been backing for decades, the more we place ourselves on the wrong side of history and the more we alienate the constituencies who could be coming to power.”

But, Mr. Malley added, “the more we side with the protesters, the more we’re hurting the existing relationships and appearing to be fickle.” For instance, the Obama administration’s latest distancing of itself from Mr. Mubarak may not go over well. “It’s not clear to me that the protesters will take seriously expressions of solidarity from a country that’s been backing autocratic regimes,” Mr. Malley said.

« Last Edit: January 31, 2011, 01:35:07 AM by kylie »

Offline Callie Del Noire

Re: Egyptian protests intensify, as clashes spread across the Middle East
« Reply #8 on: January 31, 2011, 01:51:10 AM »
Don't forget that the cultural differences. The outlook of Egypt isn't the same as the gulf states. The few guys I know from Egypt aren't too happy with their neighbors to the east. A lot of resentment has been simmering over the years. One of the comments that one of my friend said was that the war with Israel came down a willingness to fight them to the last Egyptian.

Egypt, while an Islamic culture, isn't as focused on religious rule. Too many citizens (and the military) aren't going to want someone like the Iranian revolutionary groups seizing power. They'd loose a lot of their freedom in the mix. Right now though it is a very politically unstable time. Outside influences in the region are definitely trying to do their best to shape the outcome.

I could see a lot of groups trying to put their hand in.

In the end, it's how the President and current government react that could have the greatest effect.

Online ZeitgeistTopic starter

Re: Egyptian protests intensify, as clashes spread across the Middle East
« Reply #9 on: January 31, 2011, 07:05:35 AM »
Good points Callie.

I'm surprised by the calls for the U.S. to come down on a side and support this or that. I was under the impression most thought the U.S. should keep their noses out of these matters. Yeah, we have a stake in the outcome for sure, just saying.

I've read, and heard that Egypt is the cultural point in the Middle East, in so far as music, cinema and academia. I don't think, and I hope they won't allow a radical element to come to power there. I believe Egyptians are good, well educated and sensible people. I hope things turn out well for them!

Offline Xenophile

Re: Egyptian protests intensify, as clashes spread across the Middle East
« Reply #10 on: January 31, 2011, 09:48:15 AM »
There have been some issues and problems with fundamentalist opinions and views held by people in influential positions in Egypt. While there might be some of those voices being expressed, I'm getting the feeling that some more democratic power will be established. At least relatively compared with the previous one.

Offline RubySlippers

Re: Egyptian protests intensify, as clashes spread across the Middle East
« Reply #11 on: January 31, 2011, 10:09:00 AM »
i just will note it was a Democratic Republic that let Hitler and the Nazi's rise to power, what if the new freedoms bring in religious radicals into power in these governments. They are already in Egypt moving amoung the crowds jockeying for advantage in the chaos just most of the Egyptians are staying out of this - thankfully.

Saddam was a sadistic monster but we made him leader of Iraq and he did serve our needs counterbalancing Iran removing him might have been a mistake in our long term regional interests. Sadly.

Offline Vekseid

Re: Egyptian protests intensify, as clashes spread across the Middle East
« Reply #12 on: January 31, 2011, 02:20:52 PM »
A good constitution can make the difference between how a nation weathers authoritarian movements.

Good points Callie.

I'm surprised by the calls for the U.S. to come down on a side and support this or that. I was under the impression most thought the U.S. should keep their noses out of these matters. Yeah, we have a stake in the outcome for sure, just saying.

I've read, and heard that Egypt is the cultural point in the Middle East, in so far as music, cinema and academia. I don't think, and I hope they won't allow a radical element to come to power there. I believe Egyptians are good, well educated and sensible people. I hope things turn out well for them!

Well a plurality of Iranians want the US to help liberate them, and have for a long time. Good and well educated does not mean well positioned.

The US government has been very supportive of the current regime. One reporter from CNN was shown one of the tear gas canisters - "Made in the USA". This puts the US in a rather odd position and Obama in particular. Can't afford to support the regime, or be seen supporting the regime, and outright opposing it is not going to look well to the other petty dictators the US has propped up.

Offline Callie Del Noire

Re: Egyptian protests intensify, as clashes spread across the Middle East
« Reply #13 on: January 31, 2011, 03:09:26 PM »
Good points Callie.

I'm surprised by the calls for the U.S. to come down on a side and support this or that. I was under the impression most thought the U.S. should keep their noses out of these matters. Yeah, we have a stake in the outcome for sure, just saying.

I've read, and heard that Egypt is the cultural point in the Middle East, in so far as music, cinema and academia. I don't think, and I hope they won't allow a radical element to come to power there. I believe Egyptians are good, well educated and sensible people. I hope things turn out well for them!

I might want to point out that during the 50s and 60s, Lebanon occupied a similar niche. It was occasionally called the 'Paris of the Middle East'. It was a growing and thriving cultural and banking center.

What happened?

In part, the PLO. They got run out of their lands by the Israeli army. Add in the growth of militias with support from outside groups like the Syrians and you have a country that has been crippled for decades. The PLO made their first BIG infusion of cash courtesy of the robbery of the British Bank of the Middle East headquarters in Beirut. The Corsican 'locksmiths' the PLO hired to do the job flew out of the country with something around 200 million in loot and the PLO a few days later flew out with more. Including a LOT of bonds and stock that belonged to Arab politicians who owned companies their own countries worked with. Those were sold back to said persons at 20% or so of their value.

The point is while Egypt is moderate and mostly a secular run nation (as is Syria and Turkey) they run the risk of being destabilized by outside forces like the Taliban, Al Queda and Iran. The US isn't the only group that meddles and despite the allegations of some folks who think we're the devil, we are MOSTLY benign. The current government is a relic of older American policy practices where  we'd support any evil to keep the Reds out of the region.

Right now is a good time to offer support to reform the government and transition it to something more stable and tolerant. I can also point out that a government like the religious centric government of Iran would a very bad thing. Right off the bat, consider this: Egypt owns the Suez. Possibly one of the three most used pieces of seaway in the world.

 

Online ZeitgeistTopic starter

Re: Egyptian protests intensify, as clashes spread across the Middle East
« Reply #14 on: January 31, 2011, 05:58:56 PM »
i just will note it was a Democratic Republic that let Hitler and the Nazi's rise to power, what if the new freedoms bring in religious radicals into power in these governments. They are already in Egypt moving amoung the crowds jockeying for advantage in the chaos just most of the Egyptians are staying out of this - thankfully.

Saddam was a sadistic monster but we made him leader of Iraq and he did serve our needs counterbalancing Iran removing him might have been a mistake in our long term regional interests. Sadly.

Not meaning to get off track here, but I don't believe 'we' put Saddam into power in Iraq. Yes, we arguably supported him over the Iranian government that resulted in the Islamic Revolution. But unless I'm mistaken, he came to power on his own, in a very bloody fashion if what I've read is true. Sure, one could argue we had a measure of influence had we chose to, but I think it's a stretch to say we put him in power, in Iraq.

And yes, I've seen the photo of Rumsfield shaking Saddam's hand. Doesn't mean we put him in power or appointed him in any fashion.
« Last Edit: January 31, 2011, 06:00:07 PM by Zamdrist of Zeitgeist »

Offline RubySlippers

Re: Egyptian protests intensify, as clashes spread across the Middle East
« Reply #15 on: January 31, 2011, 06:17:28 PM »
The former leader was pro-Soviet during the Cold War who do you think was backing him, supporting him with chemical weapons capabiility and looked the other way when he used this technology on Iran during the Iran-Iraq War. You can't think our CIA wasn't behind the seens to place a leader in there that was at least with the oil interests to consider.

And what if Muslim radical factions take power in some of these nations using Democracy I for one would see that domino effect not good for the West.

Online ZeitgeistTopic starter

Re: Egyptian protests intensify, as clashes spread across the Middle East
« Reply #16 on: January 31, 2011, 06:26:00 PM »
The former leader was pro-Soviet during the Cold War who do you think was backing him, supporting him with chemical weapons capabiility and looked the other way when he used this technology on Iran during the Iran-Iraq War. You can't think our CIA wasn't behind the seens to place a leader in there that was at least with the oil interests to consider.

And what if Muslim radical factions take power in some of these nations using Democracy I for one would see that domino effect not good for the West.

I recognize that, but that doesn't, or rather didn't make us Kingmakers. We will have to agree to disagree perhaps. I don't want to veer us off topic too much here.

I wonder if the rest of the Arab population in the Middle East is taking a wait and see approach with Egypt, or would they have already risen up, inspired by events. Appears to be the first, wait and see. Perhaps nothing else significant will come of the events in Egypt, in the larger region. Then again, it hasn't all played out yet, so we shall see I guess.

Offline Sandman02

Re: Egyptian protests intensify, as clashes spread across the Middle East
« Reply #17 on: January 31, 2011, 08:41:33 PM »
  I read a news article where former President Carter said that he thinks that Mubarak will "have to leave." I think Carter's opinion holds much weight given the GREAT pains he took to try to negotiate peace between Israel and the surrounding nations, and thus learning the inner workings of the Middle East in the process.

  But that also raises another point - if I were Carter, I'd be hoping like Hell that Egypt doesn't become destabilized by a radical group of whatever identity. Embroiling Egypt - the first Islamic nation to make meaningful peace with Israel - into chaos by extremist groups is perhaps the quickest way to undo what little headway we have made in the peace process between Israel and the Muslim world. The obvious counter point to that skepticism would be that, of course a revolution being fueled by democratic aspirations will lead to peace, stability, sanity and rationalism. I am not so convinced. Like an astute observer above said, Hussein was a brutal figure but he did act as a counter weight to Iran, who is currently on its way to being capable of manufacturing *real* weapons of mass destruction (here's a hint: they're nuclear).

  It's just hard to know. I am glad that this potential phenomenon is left in Egypt's hands, however, as opposed to some other Middle Eastern countries...

Offline Oniya

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Re: Egyptian protests intensify, as clashes spread across the Middle East
« Reply #18 on: January 31, 2011, 08:45:46 PM »
There are two ways for Mubarak to leave, if he indeed 'has to.'

One, he can leave by way of a horrible explosion of riot and revolution, with all the chaos and rebuilding that implies.  Two, he can exit gracefully and work with whatever is incoming to provide a smooth transition.  Unfortunately, the only people that can truly decide how this is going to come about are in Egypt.  The rest of the world pretty much has to wait and see.

Offline Sure

Re: Egyptian protests intensify, as clashes spread across the Middle East
« Reply #19 on: January 31, 2011, 09:11:31 PM »
Egypt is probably the most important nation in terms of non-peninsular Arabs. Peninsular Arabs might give Saudi Arabia that place of preeminence. Regardless, Egypt was the only Arab Nation to retain anything resembling independence in the face of the Colonial Powers, has a huge population, a good military, and a good deal of economic clout. Syria still has its credentials as Pan-Arabists and anti-Colonialists, and Jordan still has its good relations with the West and other such factors, but Egypt is simply the only Arab state that is comparable to Israel in terms of military power, and has a people willing to use that military might.

Keep in mind, the Israelis tried to intimidate the Syrians and told the Jordanians to their faces that they were not interested in reaching a compromise beyond their own diktat. But both they and the US for them have been buying off the Egyptians (Egypt receives the third largest amount of aid from the US, behind Iraq and Israel and ahead of Afghanistan, about 1.9 Billion Dollars compared to Israel's 2.6 billion and Afghanistan's 1.77 Billion).

Regionally, Iran or Turkey might be able to claim they are more important, but they are Persian and Turkish nations respectively, not Arab. Similarly, Israel's soft power is heavily limited in the area and they're not an Arab state besides.

If Egypt gets its act together and tries to export most any ideology, it will be successful in some measure. As probably the most powerful of the Arab states and due to the fact the Arab world still has lingering pan-Arab sentiments, it has tremendous potential for soft power. As far as hard power, it has the potential to challenge Israel and I don't believe is significantly threatened by any other neighbor, and further is significantly less reliant on the US than Israel is.

Though I feel it gets muddied, this situation is extremely important. Whether the media will lose interest (anyone remember the Ashura Day Protests?) is another matter entirely.

Offline Callie Del Noire

Re: Egyptian protests intensify, as clashes spread across the Middle East
« Reply #20 on: January 31, 2011, 09:28:50 PM »
I remember going down the Suez on the Nimitz in 2000. It is an impressive feat of engineering. To do and maintain. I could stand on the center of the flight deck and see nothing but desert. There were also spots where you could tell which side had belonged to whom in the past.

For most of the day, there was small outposts of soldiers on the west side of the canal along it. Each were about a dozen men with a small building, garage and outdoor area for eating, and on the east side, you'd occasionally see the burned out wreckage of trucks and armor of some type within sight of our carrier deck.

Sure has the right of it, if there was a Pan-Arab state (similar to the EU or US) forming, I'd want the Egyptians to be the core of it. There are a lot of Arab and Persian groups who want to build one. Saddam Hussein wanted to do something like that. His move on Iran and Kuwait were moves towards that goal. There are a LOT of groups that want a 'United Islamic Nation' with their ideology as the core behind it.



Offline Noelle

Re: Egyptian protests intensify, as clashes spread across the Middle East
« Reply #21 on: January 31, 2011, 10:42:08 PM »
One thing I know is that the media needs to stop their bullshit about who to give credit to for this uprising -- they keep referring back to Obama's speech in 2009 or talking about social media...It just saddens me that we can't let these people just have their revolution. They're doing their own dirty work, and being so arrogant as to imply that something our president said two years ago magically made these people realize the virtues of a free nation is pretty disappointing.

It's been interesting to me to follow updates on Twitter the last few days -- there are a lot of great photos and interesting accounts from people on the ground there.

I honestly don't see how Mubarak could possibly stay in power at this point, though...It seems a little strange that he would set up a government before he leaves considering it doesn't seem many of the Egyptians trust anyone in his circle, and likely for good reason. It would be foolish for him to stick around, there are plenty of people out for blood at this point, and it's obvious his opinion is no longer respected.

Online ZeitgeistTopic starter

Re: Egyptian protests intensify, as clashes spread across the Middle East
« Reply #22 on: February 01, 2011, 08:07:43 AM »
Now Jordan...

http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/M/ML_JORDAN_CABINET?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT&CTIME=2011-02-01-07-58-04

"Jordan's King Abdullah II fired his government Tuesday in the wake of street protests and asked an ex-prime minister to form a new Cabinet, ordering him to launch immediate political reforms."

Like in Egypt, it remains to be seen if this action will be enough to quell the unrest.

Offline Sure

Re: Egyptian protests intensify, as clashes spread across the Middle East
« Reply #23 on: February 01, 2011, 04:28:46 PM »
Jordan is interesting because it's an old style Monarchial state. King Abdullah's main goal throughout this whole thing is going to be to keep himself in power and on the throne, and nearly anything else can be sacrificed towards that goal. I suspect he'll try giving the protesters what he thinks they want and hope they calm down, preferably with minimal loss of personal power but even that is something he might compromise. I suspect he's not quite willing to become like the British Monarch but he undoubtedly would consider a throne with reduced power preferable to a revolution where he might lose his head. Particularly because a bloody revolution would squander one of Jordan's greatest assets: a sterling relationship with the West.