NORTH AFRICA (Revolution-related)

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  • motown67motown67 4,513 Posts
    1) Talk about "made-up" countries created by the imperialists in Europe is very popular in the West, but is actually ahistorical in this context. Egypt didn't have the exact same boundaries over time, but is largely based upon its historical area. Same with Tunisia. It was a province in the Ottoman Empire for hundreds of years.

    Here's a map of the Ottoman Empire in 1683. Note Tunisia and Egypt are very similar to their modern boundaries



    2) Call me cynical but I'm also not sure how much change these protests are going to bring. In Tunisia isn't the new government mostly made up of members of the old government? In Egypt, I don't think Mubarak is going to step down unless things get really out of hand. There's no sign that he's willing to do that right now. If the U.S. wanted him out, they could nudge the military and they'd get rid of him. The problem is, unless El Baradei were able to maneuver himself somehow to align with the military, they're just as likely to pick somebody from the old regime as well to replace the current autocrat.

  • Bon VivantBon Vivant The Eye of the Storm 2,018 Posts
    sakedelic said:
    What Egypt needs right now is a tax break for the wealthy, which would create jobs.

    Yes. And lower the payroll tax to stimulate the middle class.


  • LaserWolfLaserWolf Portland Oregon 11,518 Posts
    motown67 said:
    1) Talk about "made-up" countries created by the imperialists in Europe is very popular in the West, but is actually ahistorical in this context. Egypt didn't have the exact same boundaries over time, but is largely based upon its historical area. Same with Tunisia. It was a province in the Ottoman Empire for hundreds of years.

    Here's a map of the Ottoman Empire in 1683. Note Tunisia and Egypt are very similar to their modern boundaries



    2) Call me cynical but I'm also not sure how much change these protests are going to bring. In Tunisia isn't the new government mostly made up of members of the old government? In Egypt, I don't think Mubarak is going to step down unless things get really out of hand. There's no sign that he's willing to do that right now. If the U.S. wanted him out, they could nudge the military and they'd get rid of him. The problem is, unless El Baradei were able to maneuver himself somehow to align with the military, they're just as likely to pick somebody from the old regime as well to replace the current autocrat.

    Thanks.

    I had a hell of a time reading that map because I was seeing the gray area as water and the white as land mass. See if you can get your eyes to play that trick on you.

    Historical maps are interesting. I have a friend with century by century European wall maps, and European maps by language. I have seen African maps by tribal affiliation. An older map of the region would show Ethiopia as part of Egypt, or the other way around.

    My guess is (as you have suggested) the military ultimately decides who is going to rule in Egypt. That the military has taken a (relatively) soft touch with protesters signals they are willing to see a change in civilian rule.

  • FrankFrank 2,386 Posts
    Are you guys keeping up with this? Shit's really hitting the fan right now. Mubarak supporters chasing and beating up foreign reporters, throwing fridges, blocks of concrete etc from buildings onto demonstrators. The military is about to move in and from most sources it's still unclear which side they'll take. Secret police in civilian clothes busting heads with iron rods from camel back and shit....

  • DuderonomyDuderonomy Haut de la Garenne 7,451 Posts
    Frank said:
    busting heads with iron rods from camel back and shit....

    I'd never bust heads from the back of anything else.

  • PATXPATX 2,820 Posts
    LaserWolf said:

    I had a hell of a time reading that map because I was seeing the gray area as water and the white as land mass. See if you can get your eyes to play that trick on you.

    Now we understand why America doesn't do foreign policy very well.

  • PATXPATX 2,820 Posts
    That Ottoman Navy though....

  • Frank said:
    Are you guys keeping up with this? Shit's really hitting the fan right now. Mubarak supporters chasing and beating up foreign reporters, throwing fridges, blocks of concrete etc from buildings onto demonstrators. The military is about to move in and from most sources it's still unclear which side they'll take. Secret police in civilian clothes busting heads with iron rods from camel back and shit....

    Anderson Cooper, and foreign journalists in general, caught some lumpings from the pro-Mubarak thugs...the chances of this ending peacefully, unfortunately, are looking grim...Mubarak has too much pride to step down now...the anti-Mubarak folks arent waitn til September...the army will most likely be the determining factor in all this...possibly a coup from within the lower ranking members??

    "the whole world is watching"

  • DuderonomyDuderonomy Haut de la Garenne 7,451 Posts
    The leaders of the British, French, German, Italian and Spanish governments have issued a statement calling for "quick and orderly transition to a broad-based government."

    It just stops short of calling on Mubarak to resign.

    Here's the statement:

    We are watching with utmost concern the deteriorating situation in Egypt.

    The Egyptian people must be able to exercise freely their right to peaceful assembly, and enjoy the full protection of the security forces.

    Riiiiiight....


  • DuderonomyDuderonomy Haut de la Garenne 7,451 Posts


    :real_headz:

    b/w


    Silvio Berlusconi faced criticism after he said he hoped for "continuity in government", describing Mubarak as "the wisest of men".

    :nagl:

  • doisndoisn baleadas&pupuzas 303 Posts
    musica said:
    By the way, it's common knowledge that America prefers dictatorships over working democracies!

    Not only the US, globally seen (and simplified), its??s like the Gangs back in the days, there??s the Westside and the Eastside and both making their share, regardless how people will suffer...


    b/w


    tonight will be very important for the further development

  • motown67motown67 4,513 Posts
    If you don't mind reading here's a good overview of the situation within Egypt

    A Short Primer on Egypt Now
    By Brian Ulrich, on January 29th, 2011

    The following is a guest post by Noor Khan

    Basic Egypt facts

    Egypt has about 80 million people and is the most populated Arab country. It is the 2nd most populated African country. The per capita income is about $5500, but the income gap is very large, with the vast majority of people living on about $5/day. It is a net exporter of petroleum, but not a major one. Many Egyptians work in the Petro-states or the West and send money back for their families. The three largest sources of hard currency in Egypt are tourism, the Suez Canal, and remittances from abroad. The literacy rate is between 60% and 70%, pretty good for Africa. About 85-87% of Egyptians are Sunni Muslim and 10-12% are Coptic Christian. Egypt gets 1.3 billion in military aid from the USA.

    Egypt has NEVER experienced a real democracy. Despite being technically independent since 1922, it was under British colonial control until the Free Officers ???Revolution??? in 1952. Since Nasser and the Free Officers were pretty popular, the time is often looked back on nostalgically, especially by the lower classes, but it was a military government. Since Nasser???s death in 1970, Egypt was ruled by Anwar Sadat until he was assassinated in 1981 and M. Hosni Mubarak since then. Upon coming to power, Mubarak instated an Emergency Law which suspends many constitutional protections and basically gives the state complete jurisdiction for anything falling under the category ???security.??? There is no guaranteed right to privacy, free speech, assembly, press, or even a trial. Although there are a number of members of the judiciary who have tried to maintain its independence from the state, they are regularly thwarted and often removed or worse.

    The political party which controls the country is the National Democratic Party. Other parties are allowed, but kept weak; the Muslim Brotherhood is technically banned but still the biggest party in opposition. When the elections are relatively free, they carry about 20% of the votes. There are periodic ???elections??? for a parliament that has no real power, and Mubarak is ???re-elected??? regularly with more than 90% of the vote. Recently, it has been clear that he expects his son Gamal to be ???elected??? after him (he???s 82), although there has always been a chance that another military strongman will take over, since Gamal is not from the military. Among the major contenders are Omar Suleiman, who was just named vice president, Ahmed Shafiq, who has just been made prime minister, and Sami Annan the Army Chief of Staff (who was in the USA on Wednesday).

    Why are Egyptians in the streets protesting?

    First of all, they want a real democracy. No one is fooled by the ???elections??? that just play musical chairs with the people already in power. They want real choices. Yes, many want the choice to vote for the Muslim Brotherhood. But that has NOT been the major theme in these protests, and in fact has been less important than anyone expected. The real issue is that the people want fair and free elections with all choices on the table. They want what most Americans want here.

    (Note: The Brotherhood has condemned political violence, recognizes the Constitution and is NOT a terrorist organization. It is also not out to destroy Israel, although it certainly is not interested in putting Israel or America???s desires above those of Egyptians.)

    Another issue is the use of torture by the police, who are protected by the Emergency Law. It has become endemic to the point that no one expects NOT to be tortured if arrested. And the reasons for arresting you can be as simple as not moving out of the way of a police officer fast enough. People disappear and die in police custody on a regular basis, and if the ???arrest??? is supposedly for ???political crime,??? there is very little the family or even lawyers can do. It is estimated that there are close to 10,000 political prisoners in Egypt at any given time. (See ???We are all Khaled Said??? on Facebook for more on the issue of torture in Egypt.)

    The third is corruption. It is almost impossible to get anything done in Egypt without knowing someone or bribing someone. This is at every level of society. You need to bribe government officials to run a business, get a permit for anything, avoid a trumped up fine, get or keep a public sector job, or even get a driver???s license in fewer than five visits. Education is supposedly free, but government schools are so bad that only the most desperate will send their children there. For example, the average class size of a 7th grade Arabic language class in a public school in Cairo (from my sister-in-law, who is a teacher) is about 70 students. Health care is about the same. You literally have to budget about 25% of hospital costs for an operation for ???tips??? so that nurses and doctors will help you. Private care is better, but no less corrupt. You want to install a new pipe? Plan on having to pay at least three different people bribes to get the paperwork to do it ???legally.??? Buildings literally fall down in Egypt all the time, as quality codes can???t be enforced because of corruption. The list goes on.

    Connected to the corruption is the bureaucratic inefficiency. It takes hours just to pay your electric or phone bill. Getting a copy of your birth certificate will require a full day off work, trekking to multiple offices, plus the bribes. And it???s not like you can avoid the bureaucracy either, because EVERYTHING needs government pieces of paper. For my Egyptian driver???s license I needed to go to the Interior Ministry to get a stamped copy of my marriage certificate to prove I was Egyptian (because I am married to the Egyptian whose name is on my Egyptian passport, which I had) and then the Foreign Affairs Ministry to get them to translate it and then another office to get it stamped. Then I had to bribe someone to say I had driven a stick shift for the test, because my own car was an automatic. Then I was told I couldn???t put my degree on the license (occupation is listed on these things) because it was from the USA. Despite having a Fulbright to Cairo University and all the documentation from the Bi-National Commission, I was supposed to take my degree to the Ministry of Education to get it endorsed and then do another set of acrobatics. I decided it was easier to be listed as ???uneducated??? on the license. My sister-in-law was born on February 4, but the certificate of passing high school has a mark on it so it looks like February 14. After weeks of going between different government offices to get this fixed so that her college degree would be registered correctly, we finally gave up. We made a mark in front of the 4 on her birth certificate and enrollment paper. So now her birthdate is the 14th. It???s easier to forge than to correct a government mistake. Imagine this kind of rigmarole every time you needed to do paperwork of any kind.

    The last problem is the poverty. Prices have risen over 12% in the past few months, but food has risen the fastest. Meat has gone up 23%, sugar about 30% and tomatoes even more. In a country where most of the population spends about 50% of its income on food, this has been devastating. People can???t put food on their family, as W would say. Yes, things are tough everywhere, but they are very bad in Egypt, and the government is spending billions on weapons and the security apparatus which protects them from the people more than it protects Egypt from any external threat. Plus, the fat cats in government and their ???private sector??? cronies are very visibly flaunting their ill-gotten gains. The gap between the rich and the overwhelming majority of poor is huge, but now the middle class is shrinking quickly ??? sliding down, not going up. There are thousands of luxury housing units going up all over Cairo, while the majority of the people are packed like sardines in tiny apartments with deteriorating infrastructure. ???Let them eat cake??? is the government???s attitude.

    So who do the Egyptians want in charge?

    Good question ??? why don???t we let them vote on it? Realistically, it will take at least a few months to arrange for free elections. Until then, Egyptians will accept a transitional government they trust to turn over power to a new elected civilian government. They might even trust the military to do it, but I don???t think so. The two most trusted people by the masses are probably Mohamad al-Baradei, the former head of the IAEA, and Amr Moussa, the head of the Arab League. Maybe another will appear. Opposition leaders such as Ayman Nour and Noman Goma???a would probably not want the job, as they would want to run for Parliament. Could elections be held fairly? I don???t know. Egypt does have some reliable figures in the judiciary, but I personally would prefer international observers. Would the Egyptian masses? Again, I don???t know. Most Egyptians I know distrust international organizations and are very leery of threats to their country???s sovereignty, perhaps for good reason.

    What should the US and other governments do?

    Support democracy. The people are actually quite clear. It is time for us to stop supporting dictators who we think are more reliable than a free people. And it is time we stopped thinking our foreign policy and economic concerns should be more important to other countries than their own. There is much more I could say here, but I???ll stop now.

    Noor Khan is an assistant professor of history at Colgate University, with a specialty in modern Egypt.

    http://americanfootprints.com/wp/2011/01/a-short-primer-on-egypt-now/

  • Thank you Motown. Makes the events much more tangible.

    Anything more about how this Revolution coalesced? I know, Tunisia and the Wikileaks...but there's so much more to the story. There have been blips calling this the Facebook Revolution...which I call BS on.

  • The_NonThe_Non 5,690 Posts
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