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اتوار، 30 جنوری، 2011

Tunisian Tsunami may sweep more Arab States

Fears that Tunisian political Tsunami, being described as Jasmine Revolution, might engulf more Arab-African countries are coming true, as there are clear signs of troubles in both Yemen and Egypt. While situation in Yemen was within manageable limits, fast changing developments are taking place in Egypt where the deteriorating conditions have forced President Hosni Mubarak to impose curfew in three cities in a bid to quell rising demand for his ouster. 

Initial assessment by analysts around the globe predict that there was no immediate threat to the President, who is ruling the country for the last three decades, as Army and the West have vested interests in maintaining the status quo, albeit with some concessions to people who are demanding more political liberties and resolution of their economic problems, but there are indications that the United States, as well as some other Western backers of Mubarak, have started aligning themselves with the aspirations of the people. There were also reports that troops, called out to restrict movement of the people, are instead displaying solidarity with their agitating compatriots in mufti. This shows that Hosni Mubarak will ultimately have to listen to the popular demand and his attempts to seek administrative solution to the political and economic problems would not work. The widespread demonstrations in Egypt are another reminder after Tunisia that there are limits to the patience of the people. It is generally believed that political stability leads to economic growth and prosperity but unfortunately even after thirty-year rule of Mubarak, 40% of Egyptians are hardly scratching out a living with a meagre less than two dollar a day income. This is despite the fact that Egypt, after Israel, is the largest recipient of the American aid for decades and is earning handsomely from tourism. Similarly, emergency is in force for the last 25 years and police and law enforcing agencies have unlimited powers to arrest and detain people without any tangible reasons. And worst of all, the 85-year-old leader is preparing his son Jamal to take over the reins, a proposition that is unacceptable to the majority of the people, who want a change for real and better. We believe that instead of allowing the country to plunge into a turmoil, which may cause instability, the issues involved should be resolved through a genuine process of negotiations culminating in immediate political and economic reforms.

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak had his entire cabinet resign Saturday amid ongoing violent anti-government protests demanding that Mubarak step down.

Violence appeared to be growing with Reuters reporting at least 74 dead in protests since Tuesday with around 2,000 injured, as reports indicated the army fired live rounds at protesters.

The dismissal of the government followed an order by Mubarak, 82, who vowed earlier Saturday that a new cabinet would improve democracy but refused to give up power.

"It is not by setting fire and by attacking private and public property that we achieve the aspirations of Egypt and its sons, but they will be achieved through dialogue, awareness and effort," the president said in a midnight TV address, his first public appearance since the protests began, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

However, the president's words appeared to go unheeded.

"We are not demanding a change of cabinet, we want them all to leave - Mubarak before anyone else," Saad Mohammed, a 45-year-old welder who was among about 2,000 people gathered

in Cairo's central Tahrir Square, told Reuters Saturday.

The demonstrators, predominantly young students or poorer city-dwellers, are lashing out against what they see as a legacy of repression, corruption and economic despair under Mubarak, who has held power since the 1981 assassination of then-president Anwar Sadat by Islamist soldiers, the report said.

So far, the protest movement does not appear to have coalesced behind a single figure or organization, even if Mubarak did wish to start a dialogue.

Li Weijian, director of the Research Center of West Asian and African Studies at the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies, said that the unrest is a result of both domestic pressure and external influences from outside, and that protests would continue unless a new leader emerges.

"Demand for action against corruption in the country is high, and some of Mubarak's policies during his long tenure backfired. Maybe it is time for him to step down," Li told the Global Times. "With Washington shifting focus from the Middle East to Asia, Egypt's internal disputes, which are usually triggered by anti-US sentiments, have risen to the surface again."

US Vice President Joe Biden told the PBS News Hour on Thursday that Mubarak has been an ally of Washington and has been "very responsible on" regional issues.

"I would not refer to him as a dictator," Biden said, adding that Mubarak should not resign.
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