Saturday, February 19, 2011

Middle East: Ten days that shook the world

The echo of Egypt's revolution is rocking despotic regimes from Algiers to Damascus

The Guardian, Saturday 19 February 2011

"It is just one extraordinary week since the fall of the Egyptian president. For 30 years Hosni Mubarak had been the region's representative figure of the west's way of doing business. Like the ocean after an earthquake, the shock waves of his fall have grown in violence until now they are rocking despotic regimes from Algiers to Damascus.

Some of the UK's closest allies – old friends in Gulf states like Bahrain and new ones like Libya's Colonel Gaddafi – are brutally repressing protests, potentially using teargas and other material legitimately imported from British companies. This looks like a street-level Arab revolt, each uprising different in origin but all sharing the common denominator of youth and the inspiration of Tunis and Cairo relayed by text message and internet. The protesters are confronting rulers who have been courted by generations of western politicians. The result is an almost unprecedented challenge to postwar foreign policy. It demands a response which recognises that there will be no return to business as usual, and that the conversation can no longer be restricted to a narrow elite. It is time to substitute a new era of shared values for the old one of national interest......"

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