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Old 07-15-2011   #1
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Default The Arab Spring (a partial collection)

Non-Proliferation, the Arab Spring, and Bin Laden: Why Nuclear Weapons may be a Good Idea for Dictators

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Non-Proliferation, the Arab Spring, and Bin Laden: Why Nuclear Weapons may be a Good Idea for Dictators
by Mark Munson

The events of 2011, including the rapid spread of democratic social movements in the Middle East and the dramatic death of Osama bin Laden in a US special operations raid, provide insight into the state of global non-proliferation efforts and why possessing the nuclear option may seem even more rational today for the world’s dictators than in the past. The continued security relevance of nuclear weapons to states has been identified by figures as varied as AQ Khan, the “father” of Pakistan’s nuclear program, and Bing West, former Reagan administration Defense Department official and author, who both recently argued that there would have been no military intervention against a nuclear-armed Libya (Khan presented his views in a May Newsweek column, West at a Center for New American Security conference in June).

Lieutenant Commander Mark Munson currently serves as the Intelligence Officer for Naval Special Warfare Group FOUR. He has previously served onboard USS ESSEX (LHD 2) and at the Office of Naval Intelligence.



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Old 07-19-2011   #2
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Default The Arab Upheavals

The Arab Upheavals

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The Arab Upheavals and the Future of the U.S. Military Policies and Presence in the Middle East and the Gulf by Dr. W. Andrew Terrill, US Army War College Strategic Studies Institute. Summary excerpt follows:
The political and social upheaval in the Arab World known as the Arab Spring is one of the most significant set of events to unfold in the Middle East since the fall of the Ottoman Empire following World War I. The United States seeks a democratic outcome to all of these conflicts and is also concerned about the human rights of demonstrators in countries where they are treated with brutality. Additionally, traditional U.S. concerns for the region discussed by President Obama in a May 19, 2011, address include: (1) fighting terrorism, (2) opposing nuclear proliferation, (3) supporting freedom of commerce, including commerce in oil, and, (4) supporting Israel and the Middle East peace effort. Currently, the Arab Spring has had only a limited impact on these U.S. interests. The Arab monarchies, which are allied with the United States, appear to be the least vulnerable to regional unrest (except for Bahrain) and are moving rapidly to increase the stake of individual citizens within their political systems so as to prevent serious unrest. Bahrain, by contrast, is simmering with sectarian anger after the brutal suppression of its mostly Shi’ite demonstrators. Despite this situation, the United States can probably be more helpful to Shi’ites in that country by remaining engaged with the Bahraini government which has already shown itself responsive to some U.S. concerns about building an inclusive society.
The Arab Upheavals and the Future of the U.S. Military Policies and Presence in the Middle East and the Gulf.



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Old 10-01-2011   #3
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Default The Arab Spring: Notes on Nation-Building

The Arab Spring: Notes on Nation-Building

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Old 11-29-2011   #4
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Default Books to Read on the 2011 Arab Spring

Books to Read on the 2011 Arab Spring

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Old 04-06-2012   #5
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Default Wrapping Your Mind Around the Arab Spring: Recommended Reads

Wrapping Your Mind Around the Arab Spring: Recommended Reads

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Old 04-23-2012   #6
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Default Five Questions for America to Answer about Afghanistan, the Arab Spring, and Nation B

Five Questions for America to Answer about Afghanistan, the Arab Spring, and Nation Building at Home

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Old 10-03-2012   #7
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Default The Iranian View of Stage Two of the Arab Spring

The Iranian View of Stage Two of the Arab Spring

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Old 03-03-2013   #8
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Default Arab Spring Phase 3?

http://www.newrepublic.com/article/1...-obama-notice#

Welcome to Phase Three of the Arab Spring

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It appears to be the case that, in one zone after another, the vast regional revolution that used to be known as the Arab Spring (except that springtime has lasted two years now, and not everyone is Arab, and Mali testifies to the fact that revolutions do spread) has entered its Phase Three. The liberal origins back in 2011—the beautiful cries, “Peaceful! Peaceful!”, the days of Facebook glory—amounted to Phase One, the utopian heyday. Then came the Islamist triumphs, which marked Phase Two. Phase Two had a look of permanence, or so we were told, if only because, in the estimation of a certain school of Western thinking, Islamism, which may not be to our taste, is nonetheless authentic, which signifies: inevitable.
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The Arab Spring’s Phase Three has nonetheless arrived. Phase Three adds up to a series of mass protests and revolts and even wars against Islamists of every stripe—against the mainstream Islamists in Egypt, against the moderates in Tunisia, and against the radicals in Mali. The people want to topple the Islamists!—a significant number of people, anyway. Events have by-passed the experts. Islamism, even in its mainstream and moderate versions, turns out to be less democratic than advertised; and the demos, less Islamist.
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/comme...ticle9234600/?

The Harlem Shake and a simmering Arab sexual revolution

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There was something enthralling in the sight, on Thursday night, of young Egyptians, some clad in underwear, making rhythmic pelvic thrusts in front of the Cairo headquarters of the Muslim Brotherhood. The Harlem Shake is an unlikely medium of revolution, but the dance craze this week became the latest front in the showdown between Islamic politics and the drive toward individualism and independence.
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Beneath the surface, something more complex appears to be taking place – perhaps not a whole country embracing the libertine abandon of those dancers, but an Arab world that is making the break, however slowly and awkwardly, from the restrictions of traditional family life.
I found the last paragraph particularly interested, because it may indicate a major philosophical shift in their society, which is the real revolution. I believe most historians now treat the American Revolution as the underlying philosophical change (the guiding principles that shaped the society and government) that took place before the armed conflict, and the conflict was just a phase in the overall the revolution. I'm about half way through "The Radicalism of the American Revolution" by Gordon Wood. In the run up to actual war he focuses on how American's philosophical views on government, family, social norms, etc. broke from England's, and one of the key changes that facilitated the revolution was the change in the traditional family.

We tend to focus our studies on the fighting, and come up with doctrines to defeat revolutionaries militarily and by enabling good governance, but we often fail because we don't understand the shifts in society, family, and political values. If we understood this we may find that stepping to the side and letting evolution take its place is the best answer. Our interventions in Central America, Vietnam, and elsewhere only made the evolution more deadly, but ultimately the far left assumed office in many locations. Let them assume office sooner naturally, and allow their methods to fail, and then gradually shift to the middle. It seems many of our interventions, even if successful in the short term, then to fail over the long term, and perhaps this what we're missing. I don't think our current approach to so called human domain will capture this.

http://www.playboy.com/playground/vi...ld-arab-spring

The Cold Arab Spring

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Observers of the first turbulent days of the Arab awakening could have been forgiven for predicting the triumph of Western values of liberty. Scenes of girls fearlessly marching on the palaces of the anciens régimes evoked the French Revolution. Women led rallies heralding Tripoli’s liberation from 42 years of Colonel Muammar el-Qaddafi’s dictatorship and earned their place at the tables of Cairo’s coffeehouses, long a bastion of Egyptian males. The angry reaction to soldiers in Cairo who chased female protesters and subjected them to virginity tests showed just how much the public mood had changed.

But two years on, the promise of individual as well as national liberation still hangs in the balance. The secular youths who braved the batons and bullets seem mere stalking horses for the Islamist cavalry bent on regulating according to God’s word not only the public life of Arabs but their private predilections as well. Among the first victims were Alexandria’s statues of bare-breasted mermaids, which for more than a century had borne a hunky Zeus on a marble platter. During the French Revolution, women bared their breasts; during Egypt’s, iconoclasts covered them up.
I don't think the interview with Bruce Hoffman that David posted elsewhere is wrong, actually I think he is correct. Al-Qaedaism is replacing Al-Qaeda, and there are always those who fear and oppose change and change does seem to be taking place in the Arab world. We had the KKK form after our Civil War because they opposed the changes taking place. I'm sure there are numerous other examples.

http://www.middleeast-armscontrol.co...rorism-threat/

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It is dynamic. What we have seen is the decline of Core al Qaeda, but the rise of al Qaeda-ism. In other words, even while Core al Qaeda has suffered since bin Laden’s killing, its ideology and brand have clearly prospered. Today, al Qaeda’s affiliates and associates are present in more places than al Qaeda was ten years ago.
Quote:
Yes, we are witnessing a resurgence of the al Qaeda ideology and brand across the Middle East and North Africa. It is of course limited to a small number of fanatics but that in essence is the appeal of terrorism: you don’t need divisions or brigades to have an impact or arguably even to change the course of history. Rather, a handful of persons can fundamentally do so if they are sufficiently disciplined and able to perpetrate even only one or two dramatic, significant, jarring acts of violence. That is the age-old conceit of terrorists and their driving motivation.
Perhaps we have an overall positive trend, but this trend threatens the reactionaries and in turn they become more dangerous. We all know if it bleeds it leads in the media, so the extremists will unfortunately in many ways control the narrative and create the perception that the Arab world is becoming more fundamental.
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Old 03-03-2013   #9
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Good subject Bill.....hope it keeps going!
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Old 03-03-2013   #10
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Default I don't disagree with a general pattern ... but

Bob,

Don't disagree with the general pattern. I would say that you could compare it to the revolutions of 1848 in Europe. Even though things were changing they had not reached a tipping point toward republican rule. There were still powerful forces trying to hang onto the dynastic monarchies. Likewise, there are forces trying to maintain the power of religion in the Arab world. This may seem like BS to some (or most) but it seems pretty obvious to me.

In any case, the question isn't who is going to win, the question is, "why is it happening now?" I would argue that it has to do with a growing middle class ala Schumpeter (Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy). What that would mean is that force has little direct roll in the transition. It has to happen on its own.
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Old 03-03-2013   #11
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Originally Posted by TheCurmudgeon View Post
Bob,

Don't disagree with the general pattern. I would say that you could compare it to the revolutions of 1848 in Europe. Even though things were changing they had not reached a tipping point toward republican rule. There were still powerful forces trying to hang onto the dynastic monarchies. Likewise, there are forces trying to maintain the power of religion in the Arab world. This may seem like BS to some (or most) but it seems pretty obvious to me.

In any case, the question isn't who is going to win, the question is, "why is it happening now?" I would argue that it has to do with a growing middle class ala Schumpeter (Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy). What that would mean is that force has little direct roll in the transition. It has to happen on its own.
Force probably won't determine the ultimate outcome, but it does have a way of delaying the progress of a trend. If we would understood the trend, and it didn't scare us, maybe we would be less inclined to stick our nose into the midst of these evolutions (revolutions) with the goal of solving a problem that doesn't really exist. On the other hand if we really understood the trend and believed it was moving in a direction that was favorable to our interests we may be able to assert just a little energy/support in the right areas to help it alone. I think we did this with the Soladarity movement.
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Old 03-04-2013   #12
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Default Be Afraid

I think we have reasons to be afraid. Not of the Islamists but of the general pattern. If we follow the idea that what you see in the Arab Spring is akin to the revolutions of 1848 then what follows next is a period of instability ultimately culminating in a period of fierce nationalism. At the risk of sounding crazy I am going to advise you to watch for a wave of abstract or impressionist art sweeping across the Arab world. Allong with those radical shifts in the art world will come changes in the political philosophy's. The ethnic/tribal bonds will lose grip replaced by nationalism. Then expext old rivalries to be revived.
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Old 03-04-2013   #13
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Maybe the comparisons with 1848 resonate as those events were across Europe and the strength of the conservative state(s) response (I did study the period a very long time ago and recall only a little now). Solidarity in Poland is a far better comparison, partly as this trade union-led movement worked in combination with the Catholic church.

Common to these revolutions is the attempt to empower those excluded from political power - which is what we saw and see in the 'Arab Spring'.

What I do find curious with the 'Arab Spring' is that the middle classes who had been suborned - economically - by their rulers; Syria is a good example with so many dependent on state benefits, effectively decided change was necessary. I don't know the details, but suspect the middle classes were not in the lead, they responded to those socially beneath them - usually to now unacceptable state responses to dissent and protest.

Reading today I came across this comment by the UK's UN Ambassador in June 2011:
Quote:
There will be an Arab Summer....It will be chaotic and it will be uneven, and it may take a generation to get from Spring to Summer, but it will happen right across the region.
In January 2012 the UK Foreign Secretary in a letter to 'The Times' wrote:
Quote:
To say that Arab Spring has turned into cold winter is wrong...The
Arab Spring was always going to be a long process, not an instant fix. It was bound to take different forms in each country. The staging of genuine elections in countries that have been denied them for decades is significant. But it is what happens after elections that will determine success or failure.
Link for the quotes see citations 124 & 126 on pgs.54-55:https://www.fpri.org/docs/201303.wes...rab_spring.pdf
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Old 03-04-2013   #14
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Talking A social comparison

Why I see the revolutions of 1848 as a better comparison has to do with the social and economic changes that were occurring across Europe and the frustration of the population at the lack of change in the governments. I am going to lay out my argument without citation, so I apologize for that at the start.

There had been Republics across Europe pretty much ever since the fall of the Roman Empire but, despite being a dictator, Napoleon spread a republican ideals in the countries he occupied. The ones with less of a democratic history. In addition, countries like Barvaria restructured their social systems to create the ability to conduct mass mobilizations. This led to a population whose lives were changing in a liberal way but whose governmental systems were still autocratic. Using the Davies "J-curve" (yeah, I know, you don't like it) you end up with people with rising expectation that hit a wall. The result is revolution. And not just one, but a series of cascading revolutions across several countries. Pent up anger released. In many cases the result was massive repression, but the mold had been cast. With the constant rise in economic wealth which eventually trickled down to the general population things were going to change.

(A parallel to this is an increase in abstract thinking. I am not going to explain this idea in depth, but it led to the rise of nationalism - a somewhat abstract idea for non-island nations. The reason for my other comment.)

In any case, the parallel between the two situation is the rise in an economic middle class and the increase in the idea of liberalism. Eventually the people demand more and when they don't get it through normal means the result is revolution. Now, only a portion of the population actually are pushing for revolution based on liberalism. Others are along for the ride. If the liberals do not have the majority and if they push for modern democracy too quickly, bypassing republicanism, you end up with countries that elect non-democratic governments.

This is my working hypotenuse

One other thing. As you noted it is now unacceptable to use certain tactics. In 1848 there were very few democracies who were assisting the revolutionaries, or at least looking to punish government's who chose to use repressive tactics. The result was a longer transition to democracy. Today, there are many countries aiding the revolutionaries and expecting Utopian results. But the society has not truly transitioned to liberalism. Democracy comes too quickly. Social change takes time even when pushed. Expect instability for many years to come as each of these societies work things out for themselves.
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Old 03-05-2013   #15
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Originally Posted by TheCurmudgeon View Post
Bob,

Don't disagree with the general pattern. I would say that you could compare it to the revolutions of 1848 in Europe. Even though things were changing they had not reached a tipping point toward republican rule. There were still powerful forces trying to hang onto the dynastic monarchies. Likewise, there are forces trying to maintain the power of religion in the Arab world. This may seem like BS to some (or most) but it seems pretty obvious to me.

In any case, the question isn't who is going to win, the question is, "why is it happening now?" I would argue that it has to do with a growing middle class ala Schumpeter (Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy). What that would mean is that force has little direct roll in the transition. It has to happen on its own.
Do you think Schumpeter's "Creative Destruction Theory" has any impact on the situation?
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Old 03-05-2013   #16
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The weapons that helped Libyan rebels oust dictator Muammar Qaddafi are turning up for sale at clandestine auctions in Egypt’s lawless Sinai Desert, where shadowy buyers purchase firearms for Al Qaeda and Hamas operatives, sources told FoxNews.com.

The illicit sales take place in the barren Sinai peninsula, where Moses is believed to have wandered with the children of Israel for 40 years. Auctions announced through the grapevine bring caravans of foreigners, all with huge sums of money at their disposal and all with the same mission, Israel Defense Force sources told FoxNews.com.
Quote:
The hosts of these auctions aren’t just doing it for the money, the source said. Al Qaeda-linked jihadists are becoming more and more influential in the region, and playing a large role in who shows up for the auctions and who leaves with the bombs, anti-tank missiles, rocket-propelled grenades and automatic weapons that are peddled there.

http://www.foxnews.com/world/2013/02...#ixzz2MeDgTC5A
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Old 03-05-2013   #17
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Do you think Schumpeter's "Creative Destruction Theory" has any impact on the situation?
Some Yes, but mostly no. Creative Destruction (as I understand it) is a socioeconomic theory basically says that as a free-market economy develops it changes over time to keep up with the demands of the buyers. Some products flourish while others fall from favor. This means that for any advancement in product design or utility there is often some form of decline. The result is that those workers and investors in the declining industry are left in the dust. Something must be destroyed if other things are to grow. It accurately justifies a number of the ills normally associated with free market economies like unemployment and inequality.

You could make a parallel argument that this is what is happening in the political realm, and that argument would be an accurate description of what is going on if you make the assumption that democracy is actually a "better" form of government, but I think it would oversimplify a more complex problem that exists at the sociopolitical level.

The more interesting question to me is: why do these changes happen at all? What is the connection between a growing economy and a changing value system that embraces both contract capitalism and democracy. Heck, not only embraces it but demands it. Fights and dies for it. This is not just new replacing the old; the better replacing the bad. In my mind there is a drive that is based in the human need for autonomy - a drive that is only activated once certain other needs are met. In places like Afghanistan, where we cannot even succeed in meeting basic needs, you will never activate the need for autonomy on a wholesale level. Survival will be the predominant need and survival needs produce a different set of values - values based in collective survival.

But as with survival needs and collective values, they have a good and a bad and they have a limit. Does autonomy have its limits? How does a society built on autonomy deal with collective needs like government? Does it become every person for herself leading to an inability to find any common ground? The ancient Athenians voted themselves out of democracy by failing to support their military in the face of a Macedonian invasion after a failed military adventure in Sicily. Is this the common fate of all democracies?

Back to the assumption you have to make to use Creative Destruction as a geopolitical model for these revolutions. That assumption is that democracy is a "better" form of government. I would argue that it is only "better" if you have an individualistic value system - one that demands that I have a say in the running of my government. If I have a collective based value system democracy is not a requirement. In fact, it can be an impediment. What I require is for my government to provide the things I need to survive. Democracy slows that process down with endless meetings to gain consensus. An Autocratic system simply delivers - an order is given and things happen. Different values systems prefer different governments. Part of the reason why, when given the opportunity, people with collective values will vote in a person they well know has dictatorial tendencies.

OK, I am done pontificating. I hope I answered your question.

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Old 03-05-2013   #18
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Perhaps part of the problem in understanding the Arab Spring is that we have forgotten other recent occurrences, from a tweet:
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Algeria 1988-93, Sudan 1989, Mauritania 2005-2008...
I would add the 'Cedar Revolution' in the Lebanon 2005.
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Old 03-05-2013   #19
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Default Kind of off topic, but...

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In places like Afghanistan, where we cannot even succeed in meeting basic needs, you will never activate the need for autonomy on a wholesale level. Survival will be the predominant need and survival needs produce a different set of values - values based in collective survival.
An example of my argument from a non-Arab country. In the current Kenyan elections

Quote:
NAIROBI, Kenya — Uhuru Kenyatta, a Kenyan politician who has been charged by the International Criminal Court with crimes against humanity, was leading by a wide margin in the Kenya election on Tuesday, with nearly half the votes counted.

Mr. Kenyatta, who comes from one of the richest, most powerful families in Africa and has been accused of bankrolling death squads that killed women and children during the chaos of Kenya’s election five years ago, was leading 54 percent to 42 percent over the second-place candidate, Raila Odinga, Kenya’s prime minister.
He is preferred over candidates that are actually running on issues.

Quote:
But in the end, the presidential candidates who tried to gain momentum on issues-based campaigns, like Peter Kenneth and Martha Karua, got almost no votes. It seemed that most voters still felt the leader from their ethnic group was the best one to protect them — especially in an edgy environment where many fear a replay of post-election violence.
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/06/wo...s&emc=rss&_r=0

In the end, what the people want is security and stuff. It is a patron-client system that does not have the economic stability - Kenyan per capita GDP in 2011 was $808 US according to the World Bank - to activate autonomy needs. They are not interested in knowing what their government does, they just want their government to provide them what they need to survive ... and they think they are more likely to get that if a member of their ethnic group is in charge.
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Old 03-05-2013   #20
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Default Another point of view

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While the international media loves to focus on secular, liberal protestors, they are not representative of the general population of Egypt: neither their will, their values, nor their interests. Nor were they responsible for the transition in Egypt; in fact, many of the current protestors against Muhammad Mursi were in favor of the Mubarak Regime. The recent protests have been relatively small; the opposition movement is divided and disorganized; there have been constant counter-demonstrations in favor of the President, sometimes larger than those against him.

For years, labor movements and Islamists represented the primary opposition blocs to the Mubarak regime. Accordingly, the narrative that the Islamists "hijacked" the revolution seems problematic.

Egypt is overwhelmingly Sunni Muslim; culturally, the society is very conservative. Consider this: in one of the first scientific polls following the fall of Hosni Mubarak, a plurality of respondents (41.4%) identified Saudi Arabia as their ideal model of government to replace the regime (four times more votes than the runners-up, being the U.S., China, and Turkey, with 10% each). Saudi Arabia, of course, is extremely conservative, religious, and authoritarian; clearly, the will of the Egyptian people seems to diverge drastically from their portrayal on Western media.

These respondents did not get what they wanted, despite electing Islamists to parliament by huge margins – including a number of representatives from ultra-conservative salafist Nour Party (they ranked 2nd, behind the Muslim Brotherhood; these two parties alone garnered nearly 72% of the total vote). In total, 54% of the electorate turned out at the polls.
http://www.yourmiddleeast.com/opinio...mocratic_13232

My only disagreement is when the author claims that liberals were not responsible for the transition. If they were not, then the Islamists would have succeeded years ago. It was the liberal catalyst that pushed the people over the edge. None-the-less, it is not a united front, and a large number of the people who possibly remained on the fence during the revolution support a more conservative Islamic government.

As long as this level of division exists in the population it is likely that instability will be the order of the day.
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