Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Arab regimes on edge!

Foreign Policy

It's very clear that most Arab regimes are on edge over the possibility of the spread of the protests in Tunisia and Algeria. Arab columnists and TV shows have been excitedly debating the real causes of the protests and what they might mean, while in country after country warnings are being sounded of a repeat of the "Tunisia scenario." It's not at all clear whether these protests actually will spread yet, as regimes on high alert will not be taken by surprise and local conditions vary dramatically.

The protests have already sparked a region-wide debate about the prospects for political change and the costs of political repression and economic stagnation. The discussion of the "Tunisia scenario" is everywhere. In Jordan, the Muslim Brotherhood warned today that the impending price rises planned by the new government will lead to an unprecedented explosion along the North African model -- which is the lead story in Lebanon's al-Akhbar. In Egypt, Trade and Industry Minister Rashid Mohammed Rashid ruled out a "Tunisia scenario" in his country over the economy, though many columnists and political activists disagree. Leading Saudi columnist Abd al-Rahman al-Rashed today seems worried, rather than excited, that protesters may have broken the psychological barrier against demonstrating and raises the specter of a "domino theory" by which even currently calm Arab states may soon be threatened.

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