Tunisia’s popular revolt over the month of January 2011 has produced a domino effect over the Middle East, sparking demonstrations and revolts in countries such as Yemen, Algeria, and also Egypt.
January 27, 2010, 1900 DST
Tunisia’s popular revolt over the month of January 2011 has produced a domino effect over the Middle East, sparking demonstrations and revolts in countries such as Yemen, Algeria, and also Egypt. Three days of strong protests have rocked the foundations of Hosni Mubarak’s Egypt, promising to end the strongman’s 30-year old rule, to the chagrin of his allies United States and Israel.
Egypt has been one of US-Israeli axis’ strongest allies, receiving billions of dollars in aid in order to maintain the police state that has firmly kept the Muslim Brotherhood (Egypt’s historic Muslim party) out of the political arena. It is one of two Middle Eastern countries that have entered into an official treaty with Israel. Israel depends on Egyptian support for its various “security” objectives—these ranges from programs to divert Nile waters to the Negev desert, to closing borders and maintaining a blockade on Gaza. Should Egypt’s border with Gaza open, Israel’s economic stranglehold of the beleaguered sea strip would come to a speedy end.
Small wonder that the United States and Israel is nervously watching Egypt’s protests. As the Haaretz reported yesterday, Israelis are reduced to spectators (rather than the ringleaders) of the events. The Egyptian government has banned street demonstrations, mobilized anti-riot police, fired tear gas canisters and rubber-coated bullets, arrested over 1,000 demonstrators, killed 6 protesters, all to no avail. Thousands remain in the streets in Cairo, Suez, and other cities, while youth organizing on Facebook and other social networking sites indicate that massive protests are earmarked for Friday (after Friday prayers).
Central Cairo has been described as a battlefield. In today’s events, the Egyptians have set fire to a Suez police station. Demonstrators chant to refrain to refrains of “down, down Mubarak” and “Freedom, freedom, all that stands between us and you is Mubarak”.
The United States has attempted to mask its growing unease at the situation in the Middle East. In his State of the Union address, President Barack Obama stated that he supported the democratic aspirations of all people, even as Secretary of State Hilary Clinton urged “restraint” and praised the Mubarak government as “stable” and “looking for ways to respond to the legitimate needs and interests of the Egyptian people.” (However, after widespread criticism of her comments, Clinton changed her tune and said that the Egyptian government should allow protestors to demonstrate over poverty and repression).
Observers of the events in Egypt are watching with bated breath, to see the outcome of the struggle between the people and one the most armed, ruthless governments in the Middle East.