Discussion in 'West Asia & Africa' started by The Messiah, Jan 29, 2011.
It seems they have woken up after seeing tunisia free itself.
North and West Africa needs to free itself from dictators installed by west. This will be the final stage of decolonization.
Almost all islamic countries are ruled by dictactor or civilian dictator. yeah to honaa hi tha
this is where al qaeda and ayman- al-zawahiri comes from. so democracy yes, but Muslim brotherhood oh no.
Whatever it takes to throw out these dictators appointed by west from this part of the world is good in long term for Africans and for us.
The scent of jasmine spreads
As protests erupt in Egypt, Arab leaders everywhere should take heed
Jan 27th 2011 | from PRINT EDITION
TUNISIA has a mere 10m-plus people and Egypt around 84m. But as the yearning for democracy stirs in the Arab world, a wave set off in tiny Tunisia, travelling east through the Maghreb, is now rocking giant Egypt. The past few days have seen angry demonstrations in at least a score of Egyptian towns. Some 30,000 people have jammed Cairoâ€™s most famous square. Such astonishing events, in the heart of the Arab worldâ€™s most populous country, have not been witnessed in the 30 years since Hosni Mubarak, its ailing 82-year-old dictator, took power (see article).
First Tunisia, next Egypt? The scent of the jasmine revolution, as Tunisians are calling their national upheaval, has certainly spread. Satellite television, mobile telephones, the internet and Twitter continue to relay the giddy news across the Maghreb, along the Mediterraneanâ€™s southern coast, and on even through Saudi Arabia to the Gulf and Yemen. Plainly, the dictators are nervous. But that does not mean that they are about to fall like dominoes.
No one can be sure even how events in Tunisia will unfold. The country has a long way to go before calm can resume or a stable new order emerge. A unity government could take the country along an evolutionary path towards democracy, pluralism and tolerance. Or more radical elements, so far secular rather than Islamist, could drive it in a harsher direction, ridding it of every vestige of the old regime, including those of its number in the fragile new government (see article). Or the army might step in. The hope is that, with its educated people and its moderation, Tunisia could yet provide a hopeful beacon for Arabs looking for democracy.
But Egypt would be a far bigger prize. It is the most populous country in the Arab world, Cairo its biggest city. Egypt is a strategic pivot. America sees it as a vital ally in the war against international jihadism and in the search for peace between Arabs and Jews. Its 32-year-old peace treaty with Israel remains the main bulwark against a wider war between the Jewish state and the Arab world. Egyptâ€™s leading Muslim institutions are generally a force for moderation.
Yet the country is also often considered a powder keg. Nearly half of its people live on less than $2 a day. Most of them are under 30. The mood is often resentful and sour. The ruling party is arrogant, nepotistic and corrupt. It allows other parties to exist only provided they do not pose a real threat. The press is afforded a measure of freedom, as a safety-valve, but is quickly choked off if it steps out of line. A general election late last year was blatantly rigged, even by the low standards of the past. Open politics is paralysed. Mr Mubarakâ€™s son Gamal is often tipped as the old manâ€™s successor.
The main opposition, the Muslim Brotherhood, lost all its seats in parliament in the general election. Hundreds of its members are in prison, detained under widely abused emergency laws that have been in force for more than 40 years. In the recent turmoil in the streets, the Brothers kept a noticeably low profile, perhaps waiting to see how things would unfold. If there were fair elections, they would probably do well, perhaps even win. Yet many secular-minded, democratic and liberal Egyptians feel queasy about letting the Brotherhood have its head, fearing that if it won power at the ballot box it would never let it go. Others worry that the Brothers would rescind the peace treaty with Israel. The fiercer of the Palestinian movements, Hamas, is an offshoot of the Brotherhood.
Jump before you are pushed
Mr Mubarak, like the rest of the Arab worldâ€™s autocrats, will be pondering the despotâ€™s eternal dilemma. Is it better to loosen controls in order to satisfy their people with a whiff of freedom, or to tighten them in an effort to ensure their docility?
The fate of Tunisiaâ€™s strongman, Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, suggests that an angry people will be satisfied with neither. If Mr Mubarak truly put his countryâ€™s interests first, he would immediately promise to retire before the next presidential election, due in September. At the very least he would ensure that the contest is a genuinely open one, not another farce.
The latest unrest may yet die down. The security services and police may manage to contain it. But it is sure to bubble up again before too long. And one day the powder keg may explode. In the long run, the real question for Mr Mubarak is whether he wants to leave his country with a chance of peaceful change, or to leave it ablaze.
from PRINT EDITION | Leaders
Protests in Egypt: The scent of jasmine spreads | The Economist
Mubarakâ€™s Son Flees Egypt to London as Egypt Protests Continue for 3rd Day:
"It has been reported that Egyptian President Mubarak's son, Gamal Mubarak, has fled Egypt with his family to London on Tuesday as the country bracing for huge demonstrations planned for Friday.
Quoting a US-based Arab website, Akhbar al-Arab, the Wall Street Journal reported that Gamal Mubarak who is considered as his successor, has fled to Britain along with his family.
The plane with Gamal Mubarak, his wife and daughter on board left for London Tuesday from an airport in western Cairo.
Egyptian activists protested for a third day Thursday as social networking sites called for a mass rally in the capital Cairo after Friday prayers, keeping up the momentum of the country's largest anti-government protests in years.
All political and civil society organizations are expected to participate in the Fridayâ€™s rally aimed at ousting of longtime President Hosni Mubarak.
An Egyptian opposition figure Mohammed ElBaradei, a Nobel peace laureate and the country's top pro-democracy advocate, is expected to arrive in Cairo Thursday evening.
According to the Associated Press, ElBaradei told reporters at the airport in Vienna on his way back to Egypt that "the regime has not been listening."
ElBaradei urged the Egyptian regime to exercise restraint with protesters, saying they have been met with a good deal of violence which could lead to an "explosive situation."
Mubarakâ€™s grip on power seems to be loosening as rumors spread that police and security forces in the city of Suez and other cities are no longer have a stomach to confront the revolting masses who are calling for justice and freedom.
Mubarak has been a astonish ally of the US and Israel for more than 30 years compromising in many ways Egyptâ€™s own national interests.
Washington has already made it clear on Wednesday that it no longer support Mubarakâ€™s regime which has served US interests for so long.
Meanwhile, Egypt's benchmark index recorded its biggest drop in over two years Thursday, plummeting more than 10 percent as anti-government protests rattled investor confidence.
The EGX30 index closed down 10.5 percent to 5,646.50 points, capping a two day slide that brought its year-to-date losses to almost 21 percent. The market had tumbled 6.25 percent just 15 minutes into the session before trading was temporarily suspended. But the pause seemed to cement investor fears, and the drop continuing with the market's resumption, reported the Associated Press on Thursday.
The day's drop built on a 6.1 percent decline on Wednesday â€” a plunge fueled by the massive anti-government protests that mirrored earlier demonstrations in Tunisia that led to the ouster of that country's president."
Mubarakâ€™s Son Flees Egypt to London as Egypt Protests Continue for 3rd Day
ElBaradei: The man to lead a 'free' Egypt?
(CNN) -- When thousands of angry protesters take to the streets of Egypt on Friday, one man many see as the country's next potential leader will be among them.
The Cairo-born former head of the United Nations nuclear watchdog, Nobel Peace Prize winner Mohamed ElBaradei on Thursday returned to the country, despite death threats, to be with "his people."
"There was an edict against me a couple of weeks ago basically saying that my life should be dispensable because I am defying the rulers," ElBaradei told CNN on Tuesday.
He said he would have no official protection during his trip to Egypt, but felt the need to express solidarity with his people in person amid criticism he has kept a safe distance while all too subtly trying to encourage change.
"I have no security when I go to Egypt .... but, you know, you have to be with your people," ElBaradei said.
ElBaradei: Egypt is not stable Egypt's reluctant leader ElBaradei on the Iraq war ElBaradei targets new democracy
Thousands of protesters clashed with police on the country's streets on Tuesday and Wednesday as unrest in nearby Tunisia stirred simmering discontent with President Hosni Mubarak's 30-year regime.
In central Cairo, people were beaten with sticks and fists and demonstrators were dragged away as police fired tear gas into the crowd. At least four people were reported dead and dozens were injured as demonstrations flared up outside the capital in the port city of Suez and Sheikh Zwayd, an area close to Egypt's border with Gaza.
ElBaradei watched as the protests unfolded, posting messages of support on social networking site Twitter.
"We shall continue to exercise our right of peaceful demonstration and restore our freedom & dignity. Regime violence will backfire badly," he wrote Wednesday night.
But one user asked: "Where were you when people were being beaten and arrested?"
ElBaradei has yet to form a political party but hundreds of thousands of Egyptians have set up Facebook groups supporting his candidacy. One "Elbaradei for Presidency of Egypt_ 2011" counts more than 200,000 members.
Asked whether he would run for president, ElBaradei said: "Whether I run or not, that is totally irrelevant. And I made it very clear; I will not run under the present conditions, when the deck is stacked completely."
"The priority for me is to -- is to shift Egypt into a democracy, is to catch up with the 21st century, to get Egypt to be a modern and moderate society and respecting human rights, respecting the basic freedoms of the people."
ElBaradei began working in Egypt's diplomatic service in the early 1960s. In 1980 he joined U.N. and in 1997 he became head of the IAEA, taking on some of the world's most uncompromising regimes -- including Iraq, Iran and North Korea -- over their nuclear programs.
The list of his high-profile adversaries also includes former U.S. President George W. Bush. As storm clouds gathered over Iraq in 2002, ElBaradei was thrust into the center of controversy when he questioned the Bush administration's insistence that Saddam Hussein's Iraq was developing weapons of mass destruction.
"We knew that Iraq at that time did not have nuclear weapons, we had to see whether they reconstituted their program; we had no shred of evidence that they did and I made that quite clear.
"Some people in the Bush administration did not like that and as we now know both in London and in the U.S. they had a hidden agenda, which is regime change," he said.
ElBaradei and the IAEA were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in October 2005, in recognition of their efforts to prevent nuclear energy from being used for military purposes.
After three terms as the IAEA's director general, ElBaradei stepped down at the end of 2009. He was hoping to settle into a quiet retirement, but his return to Egypt during the week's unrest suggests that he is not content to sit and watch from the sidelines.
He said the Jasmine Revolution in Tunisia that saw the expulsion of long-term President Zine al-Abedine Ben Ali in mid-January had spurred action in Egypt.
"It sent a message everywhere to the Arab world that, to quote Barack Obama, 'Yes, we can,' you know, that it is doable. Then that we can be empowered as people to change a system that is ossified, that is completely repressive of our own basic rights."
Whether he is the man to do it remains to be seen. In an interview with CNN in August 2010, ElBaradei insisted he was "not the new pharaoh."
"The level of frustration, fear and desperation has created this illusion that one person can deliver," he said. "And this is really the major problem I am facing here, to get them to understand that you have to organize in grassroots fashion.
"Take charge of your own life, that is really the basic message I am sending to people."
This year many seem to be listening.
Egypt protests: Can Mubarak be toppled?
By Jon Leyne
BBC News, Cairo
Protesters in Alexandria targeted posters of President Mubarak
Continue reading the main story
Anti-government demonstrations have been continuing in Egypt despite efforts by the government to close them down. But so far they have not risen to a level to threaten President Hosni Mubarak.
On Wednesday, the interior ministry declared all demonstrations illegal and the police moved in quickly to break up any gatherings.
Security officials say 1,000 demonstrators have been arrested. The protesters refuse to be deterred but they have had trouble assembling large crowds.
Clashes continued into the night in several cities across Egypt. Some of the most violent scenes have been in Suez, where three demonstrators were killed on Tuesday.
Continue reading the main story
Across the Middle East, the situation is so unpredictable and events are moving so fast that almost anything can happenâ€
When the authorities refused to release one of the bodies on Wednesday, the crowd set fire to a government building.
So far, despite everything, normal life is continuing in most parts of the country.
The vast majority of Egyptians are too busy scratching a living to join the protests. There is widespread anger and disillusionment with the government, but there are probably not more than a few thousand people actively expressing their anger. That will give some reassurance to the government.
The former UN nuclear chief and Nobel Peace Prize winner Mohamed ElBaradei has arrived back in Cairo. That may provide some focus for the protests, but his support is more from the middle class than the masses.
There have been calls for more demonstrations after Friday prayers, but so far the banned Islamist movement, the Muslim Brotherhood, has stepped back from endorsing the protests.
They are the one movement that could bring out really large numbers. So far, though, these protests have been largely leaderless, rallied by messages posted on Facebook or Twitter, not by conventional politicians.
As for the government, to date the response has been very familiar. A political and social protest movement has been treated simply as a security threat.
Opposition figure Mohamed ElBaradei is supported mostly by Egypt's middle classes
But this morning the Egyptian papers are full of reports that a series of emergency meetings are going on behind the scenes, as the government considers responding with wage increases, offers of new jobs, and other ways to try to answer the many grievances being expressed by the demonstrators and ordinary Egyptians.
That might relieve pressure on the very poorest in society but it is not going to satisfy the more middle class young people who have been coming out on the streets.
Their grievances are not just economic. They complain of a much wider malaise in Egyptian society, with a government they believe is taking the people for granted.
Egyptians will tell you that this is a country that needs a dream, a vision. But for 30 years, President Mubarak's message has been much less ambitious - all about safety and security.
By all accounts, this government and system is not nearly as fragile as the Tunisian government, which collapsed so spectacularly.
The military, the West, and many powerful and rich people here have a big investment in keeping President Mubarak, or at least ensuring an orderly transition to another leader friendly to the West and to business.
There is no sign yet that these protests have the momentum to overcome that.
But across the Middle East now, the situation is so unpredictable and events are moving so fast that almost anything can happen.
Mubarak on TV demands Cabinet resignation
Egyptian president defends actions of security forces against protesters
AIRO â€” Egypt's embattled President Hosni Mubarak fired his Cabinet early Saturday and promised reforms in his first response to protesters who have mounted the biggest challenge ever to his 30-year rule.
But many protesters were outraged by Mubarak's nationally televised address, in which he also defended the crackdown by police on tens of thousands of demonstrators that drew harsh criticism from the Obama administration Friday, and even a threat to reduce a $1.5 billion program of foreign aid if Egypt escalated the use of force.
"We want more democracy, more efforts to combat unemployment and poverty and combat corruption," a somber-looking Mubarak said, calling the protests "part of a bigger plot to shake the stability and destroy the legitimacy" of the political system.
"I will not shy away from taking any decision that maintains the security of every Egyptian," he vowed.
President Barack Obama said he had spoken to Mubarak just after his address and he called on Egyptian authorities to refrain from using violence against peaceful protesters.
Story: Obama to Mubarak: Don't use force on your people
"This moment of volatility has to be turned into a moment of promise," Obama said. "What's needed now are concrete steps that advance the rights of the Egyptian people."
Many protesters instead were infuriated.
"We want Mubarak to go and instead he is digging in further," protester Kamal Mohammad said. "He thinks it is calming down the situation but he is just angering people more."
Mubarak's decision to dismiss Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif and the rest of the Cabinet would be interpreted as a serious attempt at bringing change under normal circumstances. But on a day when tens of thousands of people took to the streets to demand Mubarak's ouster, it fell far short of expectations.
As a result, options appeared to be dwindling for Mubarak, a 82-year-old former air force commander who until this week maintained what looked like rock-solid control of the most populous Arab nation and the cultural heart of the region.
He addressed the nation minutes after the end of a day of protesters running rampant on the streets of Cairo, battling police with stones and firebombs, burning down the ruling party headquarters, and defying a night curfew enforced by a military deployment.
The government's attempts to suppress demonstrations appeared to have eroded support from the U.S. â€” suddenly forced to choose between its most important Arab ally and a democratic uprising demanding his ouster.
Slideshow: Egyptians take to the streets (on this page)
The protesters were clearly emboldened by their success in bringing tens of thousands to the streets in defiance of a ban, a large police force, countless canisters of tear gas, and even a nighttime curfew enforced by the first military deployment of the crisis.
Flames rose in cities across Egypt as police cars burned and protesters set the ruling party headquarters in Cairo ablaze. Hundreds of young men tore televisions, fans and stereo equipment from other buildings of the National Democratic Party neighboring the Egyptian Museum, home of King Tutankhamun's treasures and one of the country's most popular tourist attractions.
Young men could be seen forming a human barricade in front of the museum to protect it.
Others around the city looted banks, smashed cars, tore down street signs and pelted armored riot police vehicles with paving stones torn from roadways.
"We are the ones who will bring change," said 21-year-old Ahmed Sharif. "If we do nothing, things will get worse. Change must come!" he screamed through a surgical mask he wore to ward off the tear gas.
Story: Egypt's young seize role of key opposition to Mubarak
Mubarak said the unrest was striking fear in the heart of the majority of Egyptians concerned about the future of their country. He defended a crackdown on protesters that included clouds of tear gas, beatings, rubber bullets and cuts to the Internet and cell phones.
He said he had given them instructions that the protesters be allowed to express their views. But, he said, acts of violence and vandalism left the security forces with no choice but to react to restore order.
"Violence will not solve the problems we face or realize the objectives we aspire to," he said.
Egypt's national airline halted flights for at least 12 hours and a Cairo Airport official said a number of international airlines had canceled flights to the capital, at least overnight. There were long lines at many supermarkets and employees limited bread sales to 10 rolls per person.
'Bring down the government'
Once-unimaginable scenes of anarchy along the Nile played out on television and computer screens from Algiers to Riyadh, two weeks to the day after protesters in Tunisia drove out their autocratic president. Images of the protests in the smaller North African country emboldened Egyptians to launch four straight days of increasingly fearless demonstrations organized over mobile phone, Facebook and Twitter.
The government cut off the Internet and mobile-phone services in Cairo, called the army into the streets and imposed a nationwide night-time curfew. The extreme measures were ignored by tens of thousands of rich, poor and middle-class protesters who united in rage against a regime seen as corrupt, abusive and neglectful of the nearly half of Egypt's 80 million people who live below the poverty line of $2 a day.
"All these people want to bring down the government. That's our basic desire," said protester Wagdy Syed, 30. "They have no morals, no respect, and no good economic sense."
Egypt has been one of the United States' closest allies in the region since President Anwar Sadat made peace with Israel in 1979 after talks at Camp David.
Mubarak kept that deal after Sadat's 1981 assassination and has been a close partner of every U.S. president since Jimmy Carter, helping Washington exert its will on issues that range from suppressing Islamist violence to counterbalancing the rise of Iran's anti-American Shiite theocracy.
The government's self-declared crowning legacy has been its economic achievements: rising GDP and a surging private sector led by a construction boom and vibrant, seemingly recession-proof banks.
But many say the fruits of growth in this formerly socialist economy have been funneled almost entirely to a politically connected elite, leaving average Egyptians surrounded by unattainable symbols of wealth such as luxury housing and high-priced electronics as they struggle to find jobs, pay daily bills and find affordable housing.
Friday's unrest began when tens of thousands poured into the streets after noon prayers, stoning and confronting police who fired back with rubber bullets and tear gas. Demonstrators wielding rocks, glass and sticks chased hundreds of riot police away from the main square in downtown Cairo and several of the policemen stripped off their uniforms and badges and joined the demonstrators.
An Associated Press reporter saw the protesters cheering the police who joined them and hoisting them on their shoulders.
Security officials said there were protests in at least 11 of the country's 28 provinces, and unrest roiled major cities like Alexandria, Suez, Assiut and Port Said. At least one protester was killed Friday, bringing the death toll for the week of protest to eight. Demonstrators were seen dragging blooded, unconsciousness fellow protesters to waiting cars and on to hospitals, but no official number of wounded was immediately available.
The uprising united the economically struggling and the prosperous, the secular and the religious. The country's most popular opposition group, the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood, did not advertise its presence and it was not immediately clear how much of a role it played in bringing people to the streets.
Many protesters chanted "God is great!" and stopped their demonstrations to pray.
Young men in one downtown square clambered onto a statue of Talat Harb, a pioneering Egyptian economist, and unfurled a large green banner that proclaimed "The Middle Class" in white Arabic lettering.
Women dressed in black veils and wide, flowing robes followed women with expensive hairdos, tight jeans and American sneakers.
The crowd included Christian men with keyrings of the cross swinging from their pockets and young men dressed in fast-food restaurant uniforms.
When a man sporting a long beard and a white robe began chanting an Islamist slogan, he was grabbed and shaken by another protester telling him to keep the slogans patriotic and not religious.
Women were largely unmolested in a city where sexual harassment on the streets is persistent.
In downtown Cairo, people on balconies tossed cans of Pepsi and bottles of water to protesters on the streets below to douse their eyes, as well as onions and lemons to sniff, to cut the sting of the tear gas.
The State Department urged Americans to defer any non-essential travel to Egypt.
The troubles were preventing trains from coming to Cairo, a city of 18 million people, security officials said.
Some of the most serious violence Friday was in Suez, where protesters seized weapons stored in a police station and asked the policemen inside to leave the building before they burned it down. They also set ablaze about 20 police trucks parked nearby. Demonstrators exchanged fire with policemen trying to stop them from storming another police station and one protester was killed in the gun battle.
In Assiut in southern Egypt, several thousand demonstrators clashed with police that set upon them with batons and sticks, chasing them through side streets.
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Protesters appeared unfazed by the absence of Nobel Peace laureate Mohamed ElBaradei, one of the country's leading pro-democracy advocates. The former head of the International Atomic
Energy Agency was soaked with a water cannon as protests erupted after Friday, and then prevented by police from leaving after he returned to his home.
Slideshow: Egypt Under Seige (on this page)
The White House praised ElBaradei and said the government's policy of keeping him under house arrest had to change.
A Facebook page run by protesters listed their demands. They want Mubarak to declare that neither he nor his son will stand for next presidential elections; dissolve the parliament holds new elections; end to emergency laws giving police extensive powers of arrest and detention; release all prisoners including protesters and those who have been in jail for years without charge or trial; and immediately fire the interior minister.
Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Israel Has Faith Mubarak Will Prevail:
With a deep investment in the status quo, Israel is watching what a senior official calls "an earthquake in the Middle East" with growing concern. The official says the Jewish state has faith that the security apparatus of its most formidable Arab neighbor, Egypt, can suppress the street demonstrations that threaten the dictatorial rule of President Hosni Mubarak. The harder question is what comes next.
"We believe that Egypt is going to overcome the current wave of demonstrations, but we have to look to the future," says the minister in the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Israel enjoys diplomatic relations and security cooperation with both Egypt and Jordan, the only neighboring states that have signed treaties with the Jewish state. But while it may be more efficient to deal with a strongman in Cairo â€” Mubarak has ruled for 30 years â€” and a King in Amman, democracies make better neighbors, "because democracies do not initiate wars," he says.
(See pictures of Egypt's protests.)
"Having said that, I'm not sure the time is right for the Arab region to go through the democratic process," he adds.
The minister, who spoke on condition of not being identified by name or portfolio, cites the Gaza Strip as a signal warning of the risk that comes with asking the people what they want. The seaside territory, home to some 1.5 million Palestinians, elected the militant Islamist group Hamas in a 2006 election that had been carried out at the urging of George W. Bush, when the President was casting the invasion of Iraq as a mission to introduce democracy to the Middle East.
(How strong a mediator is Mubarak?)
All well and good in the long run, according to the official, but Arab societies demand "a longer-term democratization process," one accompanied by education reforms that would encourage the election of moderates. "You can't make it with elections, especially in the current situation where radical elements, especially Islamist groups, may exploit the situation," he says. "It might take a generation or so."
(Is the Arab world ready for democracy?)
The official's assessment, which came before raucous demonstrations Friday, Jan. 28, in Cairo, Suez and Alexandria, may strike many in the region as paternalistic at best. Along with oil, Israel is the major factor in U.S. policy that for decades has helped protect "moderate Arab regimes" now endangered by a populist wave that began in Tunisia. In a region whose national borders were drawn by colonial powers after World War I, the Jewish state is frequently framed by critics as itself a colonial undertaking, conceived in Europe, midwifed by Great Britain, coddled by Washington and imposed on an Arab region that sees Israel itself as colonizing through settlements and industrial zones the Palestinian land it has occupied militarily since 1967.
For their part, Israeli governments pride themselves on clear-eyed assessments of the risks they face. The official saw no special peril, for instance, in Lebanon's new government. Though supported by Hizballah, the Shi'ite movement backed by Iran, "we don't consider it a Hizballah government," the official says. But the Israeli government was duly impressed by the simultaneous outbreaks of instability across the region: citizen uprisings in Tunisia, Algeria, Egypt and Yemen; unrest in Jordan and the Kurdish section of Syria; and a secession vote in Sudan's south that most likely will split the country in two.
"It seems now we have quite an earthquake," says the Cabinet member, paying respects to the al-Jazeera satellite news channel and digital technologies that have dispersed the power to communicate and organize. "In the time of [former Egyptian President and pan-Arabist] Gamel Abdel Nasser, Egypt had one radio channel, and transistor radios were all allowed to listen to one channel."
(Watch a video explanation of Egypt's protests.)
A retired major general found other metaphors â€” and more cause for concern. "We need to understand that we are living on a volcano," Ya'acov Amidror, former head of the Israel Defense Forces' Research and Assessment Directorate, told the Jerusalem Post. "Conditions can change from today until tomorrow. We must ask ourselves, What is the worst-case scenario? We are on thick ice, but even that melts eventually."
Friday's events offered little comfort for worried Israelis. At least twice that day, hundreds of Cairo protesters dropped to their knees in impromptu prayer sessions, lending the demonstrations both a measure of piety and a specific religious cast lacking in previous days â€” and in the Tunisian rebellion altogether, at least at first. The Israeli minister cautions against drawing many parallels between Egypt and Tunisia, from which a President fled after 27 years in office. "Mubarak is not Zine el Abidine Ben Ali," he says. "It's a huge difference. His regime is well rooted in the military and security apparatus. He and his wife are not criticized like the Tunisian couple." The official adds, "We do believe the regime is strong enough to overcome it."
Egypt's Crisis: Israel Backs Hosni Mubarak's Regime - TIME
After Mubarak, will Egypt face a void?
(CNN) -- Most Egyptians have known no president but Hosni Mubarak. In fact, one-third of them were born after Mubarak had already been in power for 15 years. Now, very suddenly, the people of Egypt are asking who might replace the man often dubbed Egypt's last pharaoh.
There are no obvious answers. And the pharaoh himself, now 82 years old, shows no sign of going quietly.
Mubarak has not had a vice president since he came to power in 1981, and has been quick to neutralize any challenge to his power from within. His ministers have been largely technocrats without a political base of their own. For almost 10 years, the chatter among the Egyptian elite has been about a "dynastic transition" to Mubarak's younger son, Gamal -- a long tradition in the Arab world.
U.S. diplomatic cables sent from the Cairo embassy since 2006 and published by WikiLeaks have often been preoccupied with the succession. Five years ago, one cable observed that Mubarak's wife, Suzanne, was their son's "most ardent booster" but added: "The possibility that Gamal might succeed his father remains deeply unpopular on the street."
Most notably, the cable noted that "unlike his father, (Gamal) cannot take the military's support for granted," having never served as an officer.
Steven Cook of the Council on Foreign Relations -- who was in Cairo until Thursday -- says the protests mean "we can dismiss the possibility of Gamal Mubarak" succeeding his father. The Mubarak name is now tarnished beyond repair.
Elliott Abrams, also with the Council on Foreign Relations, agrees, posting on his blog that the protests "make it impossible that the son should succeed the father. Efforts to cram him into that position would give rise to public discontent far greater than we are seeing already."
Demonstrators in several cities in Egypt Friday tore down posters of Gamal Mubarak.
But if not the son, then who? A U.S. cable from Ambassador Margaret Scobey in 2009 lamented the lack of obvious contenders, saying Mubarak "has no single confidante or advisor who can truly speak for him, and he has prevented any of his main advisors from operating outside their strictly circumscribed spheres of power."
Thomas P. Barnett of forecasting group Wikistrat put it more colorfully: "Let me give you the four scariest words I can't pronounce in Arabic: Egypt after Hosni Mubarak."
The man at the center of a nascent opposition movement is Mohamed ElBaradei, Nobel laureate and former secretary general of the International Atomic Energy Agency. Last year, he returned to Cairo and formed the National Association for Change, entertaining even then that he might run for president. After a long career at the United Nations, ElBaradei is the consummate diplomat and negotiator, but some commentators ask whether he has the street instincts to deal with the rough and tumble of a volatile, fast-moving popular uprising.
Some Egyptian opposition activists have also been critical of ElBaradei's late arrival on the scene (he landed in Cairo Thursday evening and there were few supporters at the airport to greet him), and his frequent absences overseas since launching his group. On the other hand, he has won plaudits for boycotting last year's parliamentary election, which turned out to be tainted by widespread fraud. And Friday, he showed he was ready to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with protestors.
Another prominent Egyptian not currently associated with the government is Arab League Secretary-General Amer Moussa, a former Egyptian foreign minister. At the World Economic Forum in Davos on Thursday, he acknowledged that "the Arab citizen is angry, is frustrated. That is the point. So the name of the game is reform." But he has shown no public interest in being involved in the process and would have to give up his current post to return to the fray of Egyptian politics.
The most widespread opposition movement, through mosques, education and welfare programs, is the Muslim Brotherhood, which is officially banned but tolerated within strict limits. It is no surprise that leaders of the Brotherhood were among the first political figures to be detained.
But years of harassment and detention have hollowed out the Brotherhood as a political force. It has not been in the vanguard of these protests and the consensus among commentators is that the Egyptian military would not tolerate the Brotherhood in power.
In any event, says Barnett -- formerly a professor at the U.S. Navy War College -- events in Egypt and Tunisia show that the "Islamist narrative" to explain the woes of the Arab world is being challenged by a maturing and well-educated youth movement whose expectations of a better life have been dashed by economic stagnation and a stifling political atmosphere.
Stein: Mubarak is 'our not great guy'
Middle East Politics
Amr Hamzawy, research director and senior associate at the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut, notes in an article for the Los Angeles Times: "While the Muslim Brotherhood youth and some of their leaders participated in the protests, there were no signs saying, "Islam is the solution." Egyptians have grown accustomed to the same political forces and opposition personalities in the streets, but this fundamentally changed."
There is the possibility -- according to commentators in and beyond Egypt -- of the military acting as the "handmaiden" of any transition.
Cook of the CFR says the central question for the military command is whether and when it comes time to see Mubarak as a liability. Historically, the army is averse to "public order" duties, though it has moved in at time of crisis in the past (for example, helping to quell bread riots in 2008 -- by baking bread).
But Cook points out that the army chief of staff, Sami Annan, and others have been hand-picked by the president. Unlike Tunisia, where the military played a role in calling time on President Ben Ali, "the Egyptian army is organically tied to the regime," says Cook. And loyalty has always been a more important factor in promotion than competence, according to Egyptian analysts cited in U.S. diplomatic cables.
In the past, U.S. diplomats have discussed the possibility of Omar Suleiman, the head of the intelligence service for nearly 20 years, as a transitional leader. Now, the very public hostility to anyone close to Mubarak, and especially anyone attached to the security apparatus, may make that option less likely.
Barnett, chief analyst at Wikistrat, says Mubarak's best -- and perhaps only -- option may now be to announce an "exit date" to take the sting out of the protests, organize an orderly transition to fresh elections and hand authority to a caretaker Cabinet that could focus on growing the economy.
U.S. Sen. John Kerry, D-Massachusetts, takes a similar view: "President Mubarak has the opportunity to quell the unrest by guaranteeing that a free and open democratic process will be in place when the time comes to choose the country's next leader later this year."
Several observers say the United States' best hope is that Mubarak addresses the protestors' demands quickly and lays out a road map to real democracy.
As Cook puts it, "The idea that people could come together and oust a dictator has electrified the opposition. But this is a leaderless movement." And one thing Egypt-watchers agree upon: the speed of events, the sudden cry of "kifaya" -- "enough" -- in a country where politics has long been dormant makes prediction foolhardy.
Eygpt has fallen!
it's no longer a protest ...Egypt has changed ! Let democracy ring !
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak acknowledged his citizens' discontent and attempted to defuse the crisis in Egypt Friday night by announcing that a new government is on the way. But the embattled president gave no indication that he himself planned to step down.
Specifically, Mubarak said that the current government has been asked to resign and he would appoint a new one on Saturday. He gave no indications he himself planned to step down, despite increasing calls for him to do so.
Mubarak's exact words: "I have requested the government to step down today. And I will designate a new government as of tomorrow to shoulder new duties."
The 82-year-old autocrat, who assumed power in Egypt 30 years ago, made the announcement following a day of widespread protests, violence and demonstrations. Just hours before the activity on the streets began, Egypt cut off Internet networks throughout the country.
Al Jazeera correspondent Sherine Tadros tweeted in response, "Mubarak says he'll fire govt but people are asking for regime change not a change in the regime!"
Keep up with the latest Egypt news below. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/01/28/new-egypt-government-to-b_1_n_815682.html
This is a very big deal . over 1/2 of the Egypt is under 2 dollars a day , poverty line. while the country is growing constantly by 5%. this not just poor but also middle class protesting.
US ambassador " THIS IS A BIG DEAL, don't let the Egyptians say it is not so "
the problem is disparity of wealth, unemployment.
I hope Iran is next to revolt!
Mohamed ElBaradei, the 4th Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency and Nobel Prize winner seems to be giving the leadership to the foment against Muhammad Hosni Sayyid Mubarak, the fourth and current President of the Arab Republic of Egypt.
It was mentioned in the TV news that the 'rioters' have been supplied with a very comprehensive booklet on the dos and don'ts in the mechanics of ensuring the staying power in such protest. Precautions in the event a teargas attack, water canon assault and how to stay organised are contained in this booklet. it is said.
The uprising may have started with sporadic enthusiasm; but now, if the reports are right, they have rather quickly got organised.
It takes great organisation to keep a movement going. Therefore, there is some organisation in the background that is ensuring that the protests continue and Mubarrak is forced to step down.
The other Islamic countries in the region would be watching the events closely since most of them are quasi democracies or are Sheikdoms, both ruling in autocratic manner and through rigged elections, where applicable.
He got rid of his cabinet... big deal? He will just put more of his cronies in there.
I posted a blog here:
they are trying to take advantage but wont succeed because Mohamed ElBaradei will lead if yank puppet flees.
Young, educated and underemployed: the face of the Arab world's protesters
Images of unrest from the streets of Egypt and Tunisia this month revealed mostly male crowds of protesters in jeans and leather jackets, hoodies and argyle sweaters, baseball caps and flannel shirts â€“ not exactly the bearded Islamist traditionally associated with revolt in the Arab world.
Who are these people and what are they fighting for? They are the young and unemployed, or underemployed, many with advanced degrees struggling to find jobs to support themselves and their families. Many have lived their entire lives under the same leader and want change, believing that it will lead to a better life.
Muslim-majority countries in North Africa and the Middle East have the highest percentage of young people in the world, with 60 percent of the regions' people under 30, according to study by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.
With unemployment rates at 10 percent or more, those countries also have the highest regional rates of joblessness in the world, reports an article published in "Foreign Policy" titled, "The Arab World's Youth Army."
The article highlights the stories of Tunisians in their 20s who took to the streets last month to protest corruption in various levels of government and a lack of meaningful opportunities. One young man with a master's degree in computer science described a daily routine of internet job searches at a coffee shop in Sidi Bouzid, home of 26-year-old Mohamed Bouazizi, a fruit seller who burned himself to death after bribe-seeking police took his products, effectively sparking Tunisia's uprising.
The young man's high school economics teacher estimated that just 5% of his students from the young man's class have found jobs since completing high school.
In the streets of Egypt, CNN spoke with several protesters who shared similar grievances, especially after President Hosni Mubarak announced Friday that he had asked his government to resign without giving any indication that he planned to step down.
"We are one of the richest Arab countries and we want to live. Let a new government form, but if we don't get what we ask for, we will go back to the streets again and again" said Mohammed, a 20-year-old student.
Yousef, an 18-year-old taxi driver, credited the Tunisia uprising with spurring Egyptians into action.
"We don't care if a new government rules for 100 years to come. We just want a good, honest government. (President Zine El Abidine) Ben Ali said he understood the Tunisians and what did the Tunisians do? They kept protesting until he fled the country. We will do more and more, we will continue our demonstrations and we will do 3,000 times more of what the Tunisians did," he said.
"Mubarak needs to resign and some of the regime figures need to be arrested and they need to face trial. We demand justice. Some of the parliamentary figures are good, some are just corrupt and they need to face justice. We don't need the same ministers with different posts. We need new elections."
Of course, the problem is not exclusive to the twentysomethings of the Arab world, but the complaints are the same. A resident of Shubra, an impoverished neighborhood in Cairo, said his chief concerns were corruption and economic hardship.
He spoke about the rising prices of staples such as rice, wheat and bread. He was dismissive of Mubarak's promises to bring about reform and vowed to continue protesting.
"We do not want him or the government or the parliament and we want all the corrupt people of this country to be tried for every penny they stole from this country," he said.
"We went out today and we were ready to die so our children can live with dignity."
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