- (february 2011)
One million Gandhis.
This was the rare non-violent secular revolution that succeeds. One has to
go back to Gandhi to find an equivalent. The notable difference is that
the Egyptians did not have a charismatic leader to lead their nonviolent
uprising. The other difference is that Gandhi was protesting against a
foreign colonial power, whereas the Egyptians were protesting against
a domestic dictator. The two differences make it even more impressive that
a faceless crowd managed to do what neither Italians nor Germans (to mention
two famous cases) never achieved on their own (both Mussolini and Hitler were
deposed by a foreign invasion).
The success of the Egyptian revolution
stands in sharp contrast with the violent religious revolution advocated
by Al Qaeda, that failed after causing thousands of deaths. Al Qaeda's
revolution caused the invasion of two Islamic countries (Iraq and Afghanistan),
the deployment of thousands of foreign soldiers around the Islamic world,
and the fall of the regime that supported that revolution (the Taliban).
The peaceful Egyptian revolution, instead, delivered.
It is hard to imagine better news for the world.
TM, ®, Copyright © 2010 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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- (january 2011)
The fall of the wall in Egypt.
Analysts are correctly focusing on a specific social class to explain the
anti-government demonstrations in Egypt and elsewhere: highly-educated unemployed youth connected with digital devices. This is the social class that staged
mass protests in Iran against the Islamic regime
in june 2009. This is the class that overthrew the dictator in Tunisia in
december 2010. This is the class that is demanding the resignation of
Mubarak in Egypt. This is the class that took to the streets in
Yemen, Algeria and Sudan.
There are other catalysts, though, and history may credit places that today
don't spring immediately to mind. To start with, it's a bit of an amazing
coincidence that the Arab world has not had a popular revolution in
centuries, but then it has two or five just a few years after the USA and
Britain removed a lifelong dictator from power. The
2003 removal of Saddam Hussein might well be remembered as the watershed event
that changed the course of Arab history forever. Then there was the example
of the "color" revolutions in the former Soviet block: those too were
anachronistic dictatorships. More recently there were
European protests against austerity plans after the Great Recession: it is
not a coincidence that the riots in Tunisia followed by a few weeks similar
demonstrations in France against the French government. Tunisians are fluent
in French and watch French news all the time.
The 2009 protests in Iran were de facto a very similar revolution, except that
The 2007-08 nationwide protests by Pakistani lawyers did not involve the
whole population, but they succeeded in ousting the dictator (Musharraf) in
Then of course the emergence of the
Internet as a powerful social tool. Then of course the
demographics: more than 50% of people in Islamic countries is under 35,
and therefore likely to use a cell phone and social networking software.
Then of course corruption, injustice and unemployment that created mountains
of anger (and more relevant, but mostly unknown to the West, the rising food
prices that have caused unrest all over the developing world).
However, analysts may be underestimating the first three factors: the example of
Saddam Hussein (that broke the myth that Arab dictators last for life),
the example of other regions (that left the Arab world behind everybody else)
and the example of the disenfranchised European youth.
If Mubarak falls (as it looks more and more likely, since he doesn't have any
friends left in the world other than in Israel), this will be a monumental
event, comparable to the fall of the Berlin wall. It will send shock waves
throughout the Arab world and spawn a new generation of democratic regimes.
The difference, of course, is that the USA was the net beneficiary of the
fall of communism, while here it might be the net loser. The revolt against
communism was sponsored and encouraged by the USA. The revolt against the
friendly Arab dictators was neither sponsored nor encouraged by the USA.
The USA can take pride in the fact that future generations might view the
fall of Saddam Hussein as the even that broke the ice, and in the fact that
Condoleezza Rice, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton publicly prompted
the Arab dictators to do what they are now forced to do.
Future historians will also see clearly that the events that triggered these
revolutions originated from the USA: Silicon Valley's social-networking
technology, Barack Obama's "Yes We Can" spirit, and, like it or not,
George W Bush military campaigns.
However, the fact remains that the USA (and its proxy Israel) supported and
armed too many of those dictators for too many years.
It will not be easy to regain the trust of the people.
The good news, of course, is that this a secular revolution and it is mostly
about economic conditions. These young people want a better future.
They are not interested in attacking Israel or the USA.
They are not interested in the jihad of Al Qaeda (the real loser in these
They are interested in regaining pride in their country.
TM, ®, Copyright © 2011 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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- Articles on Egypt before 2011