The Paw Print
Unrest continues in the Middle East, except this time it comes from an unusual source. Egypt is experiencing civil unrest that has not been experienced in the region for a number of decades.
The riots seemed to have been geared toward the overthrow, or at the least, resignation of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. That resignation was eventually achieved on February 22. His rule was not a short one, as he ruled for 60 years.
Egypt had long been the model of stability in the usually volatile region of the Middle East. Being stable in the Middle East, though, is similar to calling the kettle black, as Egypt still experienced civil unrest, just not to the extent that it is seen in other Middle East countries.
The ruling party of Egypt, the National Democratic Party (NDP) had monopolized the region and held an iron grip over politics. Through rigged elections, cronyism, and the backing of powerful foreign allies, the NDP was able to retain power in Egypt.
Mubarak’s presidency caused a great deal of civil unrest. Poverty, rising prices, social exclusion, anger over the corruption of the government, personal enrichment among political elite, and police brutality caused anger towards Mubarak to hit the boiling point and so began the civil uprising.
According to Martin Asser of BBC News, a possible catalyst for the civil uprising can be traced to Arabs in Tunisia who successfully overthrew their autocratic ruler, Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali with a popular uprising on the January 14.
The Egyptian government even went as far as to remove internet capabilities, as well as, Facebook, Twitter, cell phone text messages, and Blackberry Messenger services. This is attributed to authorities attempting to remove the public forum and prevent protestors from organizing.
January 28 saw President Mubarak acknowledging the discontent among his people. He announced to the Egyptian people that a new government was on its way. Requests for Mubarak to step down from the presidency were ignored by him for the most part, until his eventual removal from office.
The unrest in Egypt has been affecting more than just the people of Egypt. The Middle East is experiencing revolts in a number of countries. Libya is experiencing a similar situation as militant rebel troops are attempting to remove Libya’s leader Muammar Gaddafi. Gaddafi, similar to Mubarak, is going to make his removal as difficult as possible.
The discord caused from Egypt’s civil upheaval will be felt in the United States as well. According to Martin Asser, “Cairo’s relationship with Washington is underpinned by a peace treaty with Israel, agreed in the late 1970s after four Arab-Israeli wars in which Egypt was standard bearer of the Arab cause. Mubarak’s autocracy and billions of dollars of U.S. military aid permitted him a free hand to engage with Israeli governments, unhindered by deep public concern about Israel’s military and political handling of the Palestinians and Lebanon. The realities of democratic politics could bring about a recasting of those relationships; hence the apprehensiveness of Israelis and Americans as they follow events.”
The upheaval doesn’t seem to have an end, and it is hard to say what might happen in the Middle East. All that can be done at the moment is to watch and hope for the best.