Egypt and the North African uprising
When Mohamed Bouazizi an unlicensed street Vendor in Tunisia set himself ablaze in protest against the poverty, unemployment and the deplorable state of stagnation in the North African nation; few knew it would lead to a wave of revolt in Northern Africa which could well spread beyond the shores of the motherland.
Mohamed’s apparent suicidal actions lead to a wave of social, political and economic revolt against the government of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. It all started as small protest but quickly grew into massive crowds on the streets. It finally led to the ouster of Ben Ali who was rumored to have fled to Saudi Arabia, after recognizing the situation had gotten out of hand and has no option but to relinquish power. Power he has held on to for about 25 years. At the heart of all these protest is Economic prosperity, political reform and social justice.
Mohammed Bouazizi died a few weeks later from his burns. He is considered a Martyr who has inspired plenty copycats.
Enter Egypt, the Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak has ruled for over 30 years. The country was reeling from economic stagnation, unemployed youths and frustration amongst majority of its population. This was fertile ground for a copycat revolution.
Seeing how effective their Tunisian counterparts had been, the Egyptians flooded the streets of Cairo and Alexandria in the thousands demanding the ouster of their president and demanding political and economic changes as well. The police and army seem powerless against the protesters who are determined to see this through to the very end. What that is no one has any idea.
Egypt is of major strategic importance to the US and Israel. The muslim brotherhood a group which has been labeled as fundamentalists has been kept quiet by the Egyptian government. Mubarak has quashed them and rendered them almost powerless. He has also been a staunch US ally and is Against Iran’s nuclear ambitions. So he is definitely in the good books of US and Israel.
The big picture is that other Middle eastern countries like Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Yemen, Qatar and other nations who do not have a democratic process are in panic mode right now. They are taking precautions because this wild flames of frustration, revolution and poverty might inspire other Muslim brothers and sisters to start their own demand for change. So many have a stake in seeing Mubarak restore credibility to his government and halt the uprising. Because if this Egyptian government falls like Tunisia did, it will no doubt spark a flame of huge revolution of enormous proportions.
Most of these people have lived in anger from lack of jobs and good livelihood for years and they just seem ready to demand change.
Flash back a few months ago to Iran when Iranians defied the revolutionary guard to lead protests against an election they deemed rigged. The did not achieve the result they wanted- the resignation of their president-, but they have put a dent in the Iranian hierarchical process some even say it is split, a house divided which will crumble in due time.
Its time African leaders server the people, its time they implement transparent and effective electoral processes free of any duress or coercion. In Ivory coast Lauren Gbagbo lost the presidential elections held earlier this year but holds on to power defying the electorate, the African Union and the world leaders calling for him to hand over power to the duly elected leader. In Nigeria, the process has been dominated by electoral fraud and government looting.
Egypt and maybe the World may be at a cross roads right now. No doubt that the crisis will have rippling effects around the world. Prices of Oil may go up because Egypt is a major route for oil barges and ships, It may lead to instability in the region and nervousness for the US and Israel . But at the end of the day do our interests becloud our values or do we stand up for the universal rights of every human being . The Jury is still out on that one.
Enjoy your day!