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The Arab Spring Thread


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#1 duke_Qa

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Posted 28 January 2011 - 10:31 AM

The Tunisian uprising/Jasmine revolution started it all. The young and educated masses who have lived their entire lives under a president they did not elect themselves got tired of rising food and fuel prices and the lack of jobs. the uprising started with educated but jobless Mohamed Bouazizi. He was slapped in the face by a female police agent which claimed he did not have the documents to sell fruit and forbade him from making a living to feed his family. This insult was the last drop for him, so he doused himself in gas and put himself on fire in front of the local governmental building.

The rest is pretty much history already. The Tunisian youth have been feeling the oppression for a long time, and this was the literal spark that set the country ablaze and chased Ben Ali out of the presidential office(along with his wife which supposedly brought 1.5tons of solid gold with her). Nothing is certain as of yet for what is going to happen in Tunisia, but there's no doubt that the people have a lot more power and freedom now than a few months ago.

Now we are seeing the same thing in many other Arab nations like Egypt and Yemen. One can say that the same problems are present in these nations. Average population age of 30, educated youngsters with too few jobs and rising cost of living, and a apathic and corrupt government that eats too much of the cake and cares too little for its population. Egypt's future is, as I write this OP, hanging in the balance. Last rumors on my newspapers tell me that large police forces in Cairo have vanished, on this "friday of anger" as the population calls it. Some opposition members have claimed that if they reach a number over a hundred-thousand today, the military would not dare to go against them. We will see what happens, which parts of the government forces stays loyal and which ones does not.


Naturally, this revolution is somewhat bittersweet for the western world. The US have supported the local dictators, Egypt is one of USA's major allies in the middle east and have gotten tons of funding and state-of-the-art weaponry from them. They are secular dictatorships and they have bans on religious political parties. Tunisia isn't a big problem since that nation is very secular and all pretty much agree on the divide between state and religion, and the Islamists are an marginal political entity that no Tunisian really likes.

In Egypt on the other hand, we have the muslim brotherhood as one of the biggest political opposition groups. They are not allowed to form a political organization, so they list themselves as independents in elections, but they have something like 20% national support. They don't believe in democracy and a secular government, and if they came to power things would turn for the worse. Also, the Egyptian governmental forces are more likely to violently suppress any uprising that embraces these Islamic sharia-tendencies.
Fortunately, it seems that this is not a religious revolt. It is a youth-revolt, an educated and secular movement. If the Islamic brotherhood tries to take the spotlight, the demonstrators would hopefully make it clear that this is not their doing. Both to stop the brotherhood from gaining more than necessary from it and avoiding that the military will turn on the demonstrators. And if Egypt's uprising succeeds, it will not be the last Arab country to see change.


Personally, I think that this is a sign of the times. Facebook, twitter, large access to internet and communication, open discussions about things that people find problematic in their society like corruption and oppression. All you need in today's society is to mobilize enough people to make the government listen. Win or lose, this is a sign that the age of communication is still going strong, and that there is hope for more freedom and less corruption around the world.

Edited by duke_Qa, 18 March 2011 - 09:41 AM.

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#2 Vortigern

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Posted 28 January 2011 - 11:10 AM

It's amazing. It's almost exactly the Domino Effect, but fifty years later and with educated youth-based movements. You kinda skipped over Yemen there, but here's some extra information: the median age of the population in Yemen is just under 18 years old, the rate of unemployment is around 35% and nearly half the population is below the poverty line. That's over 10 million people. The protests there are about youth unemployment and government oppression, so it fits much the same bill as Tunisia and Egypt. It's all kicking off in the Muslim world.

By the way, how far does it have to go for protests and riots to become a revolt, a rebellion or a revolution? Now that Tunisia have officially removed their President and got some serious new freedoms, does that constitute a revolution?
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#3 duke_Qa

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Posted 28 January 2011 - 11:48 AM

I'd say no. The Russian revolution and the french revolution were pretty radical and cut deeply in the political elites of those nations. Tunisia I'd say was a revolt, a throwing out of the government but not a massive slaughtering of the political elite. Most of the passive supporters of that government is still in positions of power.
The same would probably be said if Egypt got a new government here now. The military and the police might lose a few generals at the top, and the president's party would probably be disbanded, but I don't see a new ideology coming up that would change much more than that.

I had planned to mention Yemen, but it seems to be quiet compared to Egypt right now. If Egypt falls it will have a much bigger effect on the Middle East than if Yemen fell, and it would most certainly cause a revolt there as well since they are so close to it. I can't say i know the demographics of Yemen very well, the little experience I have with the nation is bad considering the murder of Martine Vik Magnussen in London back in 2008,(most likely) by Farouk Abdulhak, son of Shaher Abdulhak: One of the wealthiest and most powerful men in Yemen.
Spoiler


Anyway, what little i know of yemen is that it is a relatively poor society, i can't say if a revolt of young educated people is the way it will go because it seems like a nation of Al-Quaeda supporters. Also, the USA seems to have been even more in bed with the Yemeni government because of this uprising of Terrorists in Yemen, so a revolt down there might take things in the more religious direction, which will most likely fail. If they do rebel then i Expect the government will just get rid of the head and just keep on going as it is going.

Back to Egypt: some fliers that are being spread around:


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speaks for itself
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short list of their demands,

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Tips about stopping their vehicles, choking the exhaust with rags and the likes.
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Be nice to police officers and get them on your side. Pretty important part of any revolution. If the military/police stays loyal, the government is pretty safe.

Edited by duke_Qa, 28 January 2011 - 12:51 PM.

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#4 Romanul

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Posted 28 January 2011 - 01:21 PM

IMO its the same domino effect like in Eastern Europe back in 1988-1989. Nothing new.

Its just global powers changing the map of the world for the sake of their own interest.

#5 duke_Qa

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Posted 28 January 2011 - 02:02 PM

Must be the global powers of freedom from oppression and abuse then. Can you say that this is directly positive for us in the western world? We are on relatively good terms with these dictators, Egypt has been a pivotal nation in the Israel/Palestine since they joined our side, they are the reason outright wars are no longer a viable option against Israel by their Arab neighbors.

The only good thing about this is from a purely grassroot perspective. It will bring more freedom to Tunisia and it certainly is looking like it will bring more freedom to the rest of the Arab world. In a global political perspective this is murking up the waters and making it really hard to say what way things are headed. This is a 9/11 event, a major global event that will change politics in unknown ways.

Edit: Anyway more news, apparently tens of thousands have gathered together in groups now and are pushing police back from whatever point they were supposed to defend here and there. also minor rumors about police officers starting to join in the demonstrations. Guardian-link

Edited by duke_Qa, 28 January 2011 - 02:31 PM.

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#6 Vortigern

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Posted 28 January 2011 - 02:17 PM

I thought the major reason the Arab nations didn't try to gang up on Israel is because they already tried it once and got their collective ass handed to them?
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#7 duke_Qa

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Posted 28 January 2011 - 02:48 PM

Most of the time yeah, but to begin with it was pretty much anyone's bet who would get out on top. Tvtropes page on the conflict is well-written imo. There's been 8 wars around and over Israel since the 1930s, the last one turned Egypt into an ally of the west and the Israeli economy rocketed past their arab neighbors. After that its just been insurgents and media-oriented warfare.

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#8 Romanul

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Posted 28 January 2011 - 03:02 PM

Must be the global powers of freedom from oppression and abuse then. Can you say that this is directly positive for us in the western world? We are on relatively good terms with these dictators, Egypt has been a pivotal nation in the Israel/Palestine since they joined our side, they are the reason outright wars are no longer a viable option against Israel by their Arab neighbors.

The only good thing about this is from a purely grassroot perspective. It will bring more freedom to Tunisia and it certainly is looking like it will bring more freedom to the rest of the Arab world. In a global political perspective this is murking up the waters and making it really hard to say what way things are headed. This is a 9/11 event, a major global event that will change politics in unknown ways.

Who said its towards US' interest? These old leaders could be replaced by more..."liberal" people, like Yeltsin and then be replaced by macho-mans like Putin.
We could wake up with a European sphere of influence, why not, Wikileaks said that France is currently having the biggest number of spies, and we could have a extended EU.

We can't say who's interest is right now. But we'll find out.
For example, Romania and Bulgaria weren't quite so "pro-West" at the beggining of the 90's, au contraire, they were pretty Russia-oriented(Which was pretty unfortunate).
But later the western influence became bigger and since 2007 both countries are clearly in the Western sphere of influence.
Stuff like this could happen again.

I don't believe in a miracles like that, like "OMG, look, democracy in all the Arab world!". Lets not forget what happened with the fall of the Iron Curtain - it took some years to get some states in good shape.

#9 Námo

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Posted 28 January 2011 - 03:02 PM

IMO its the same domino effect like in Eastern Europe back in 1988-1989. Nothing new.

That resulted in some kind of democratic systems in Eastern Europe.

Whether the present protests in the Arabic World will bring some kind of democracy, or just bring some islamists into power ... that has yet to be seen, and we might not know the outcome of that struggle for some years still.

The western MSM are mostly interested in big events, like what is now happening, or like in in Iran last year in relation to the elections. There have been a lot of resistance in Iran since then, just more low-key, but still persistent. The MSM's report on these: almost zero, NIL.

The situation in the Arabic World is very different from the situation in Eastern Europe then, and also more complex. You can't really compare those.
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#10 Romanul

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Posted 28 January 2011 - 03:43 PM

You actually can. To me its economic interest, not cultural or religious.

#11 duke_Qa

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Posted 28 January 2011 - 04:19 PM

Its a revolt against a corrupt and power-mongering system, by young, frustrated, moderate and educated people.

Latest news from Egypt, Alexandria has supposedly been overtaken by half a million demonstrators, which pushed the police away and are controlling that city, The army is moving into Cairo to support the police by government orders, and a curfew has been put in place and is promptly being ignored.

Posted Image
This picture kinda brought a tear to my eye, a civillian gives a kiss to a riot police officer. This demonstration is a perfect example of how to get the official people on your side.

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#12 Námo

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Posted 28 January 2011 - 05:12 PM

... its economic interest, not cultural or religious.

The Muslim Brotherhood has strong roots in Egypt, being founded there in the ninety-twenties by Hassan Al-Banna. It has been banned for decades there, but has a very strong network. It is the best organized of the opposition forces, and it's hungry for power. It would be naive to count them out.

The Muslim Brotherhood has now joined the demonstrations, cf. New York Times: With Muslim Brotherhood Set to Join Egypt Protests, Religion’s Role May Grow
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#13 Romanul

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Posted 28 January 2011 - 07:00 PM

Again, a organisation which could easily work for some other foreign interests.

@duke_qa:

Its a revolt against a corrupt and power-mongering system, by young, frustrated, moderate and educated people.


Same was in Eastern Europe. Oops.

#14 OmegaBolt

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Posted 28 January 2011 - 07:55 PM

Live coverage of Egypt: http://www.bbc.co.uk...e-east-12307698

Posted Image

Posted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted Image


#15 duke_Qa

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Posted 28 January 2011 - 08:46 PM

Again, a organisation which could easily work for some other foreign interests.

@duke_qa:

Its a revolt against a corrupt and power-mongering system, by young, frustrated, moderate and educated people.


Same was in Eastern Europe. Oops.


When people claim that someone can flawlessly puppeteer such a rebellion, they are going beyond rational explanations and into conspiracies. And conspiracies of that scope are nothing more than irrational secular superstitions.

You could in theory say that these rebellions are partially caused by the rise in food and fuel costs, which probably are caused by the recession, which was caused by the American bank Lehman Brothers bankruptcy back in 08. So if you can find proof that the Lehman Brothers are earning billions on this revolution: wooo.... conspiracy ;)

Love that link OB(haha, now thats an abbreviation you might not want), Seems that things are still moving along in a positive direction, no big news about big changes in either direction. We'll see what happens further down the road.

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#16 OmegaBolt

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Posted 28 January 2011 - 09:25 PM

That American spokesperson had nothing useful to say. Lots of "errs" and "umms" there, they don't really seem to know what they're doing... although somehow he managed to slip into it that they have a much superior economy to China.

Posted Image

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#17 duke_Qa

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Posted 28 January 2011 - 10:02 PM

Yeah he was winging it like some stand-up comedian with amnesia. But that comment about being three times as big with a quarter the population puts it in perspective. Does not mean that the USA has time to rest on its laurels though.

Anyway, things are looking very bright. 3 private jets have apparently taken off from the Cairo Airport. The boss himself was supposed to have a speech around 1800, but is now quite late and suspected of secretly leaving the country. Alexandria chased out the police, then shook hands, shared waterbottles and prayed together with the officers. The army is showing no sign of going up against the civillians, and they were met with cheers in Alexandria when they entered the city.

The "senate" president has announced that he will make an important announcement soon. Probably might be big news.

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#18 duke_Qa

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Posted 28 January 2011 - 10:19 PM

Yup, the government seems to be caving. Epic moment really.

http://www.bbc.co.uk...e-east-12307698

The boss finally speaks up, he seems to be partially giving in, but is apparently trying to keep his presidency right now. We'll see how long that lasts now that he has given them a hand.
edit2: Yeah he did not really say anything new, he just said that he will throw the government and create a new one, which is nothing but his own little dollhouse. But this is resembling the speech of Ben Ali two days before he left the country.

Edited by duke_Qa, 28 January 2011 - 10:33 PM.

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#19 Pasidon

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Posted 28 January 2011 - 10:36 PM

Nothing far this interesting ever happens here in Buck Crick, US. Man, I miss Africa...

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#20 duke_Qa

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Posted 29 January 2011 - 01:13 AM

You might notice that the things they are revolting for are a bit more common where you are ;)

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