Saturday, January 15, 2011

Troubles like these are brewing all over the Middle East

Analysis by Patrick Cockburn

"Is it a real revolution in Tunisia or will another member of the ruling elite succeed in replacing President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali who took flight yesterday? It is a crucial question for the rest of the Arab world where other corrupt police states face the same political, social and economic problems as Tunisia.

A striking feature of the whole Middle East for more than 30 years has been the unpopularity of the regimes combined with their depressing ability to stay in power....

But the revolution that is brewing across the Middle East is of a traditional model springing from high unemployment, particularly among better educated young men, and a ruling class unable to resolve any of their countries' economic problems.
The most obvious parallel with Tunisia is Egypt where the sclerotic regime of President Hosni Mubarak clings to power.

Will the present so-called "soft coup" work whereby Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi takes power and calms down protesters by promises of reform and elections? It does not look very likely. The declared State of Emergency is not working. There is not reason to suppose that a political leader so closely associated with the old regime will have any credibility with people in the streets.

Conditions vary across the Arab world but there is plenty in common between the situation in Tunisia and that in Algeria, Jordan and Egypt. Economic and political stagnation is decades old.....

Yet all these regimes that are now in trouble had a carefully cultivated image in the west of being "moderate" and anti-fundamentalist....

The Middle East still has a reputation for coups but a striking feature of the region since the early 1970s is how few of the regimes have changed. The forces behind the Tunisian events are not radically new but they are all the more potent for being so long suppressed....."

No comments: