Could Egypt follow Tunisia?

Investors are often among the most sober of political analysts — after all, their single interest is in finding the safest and most profitable places to put their money and right now, Egypt does not look like such a location.

Reuters reports, “Cairo’s stock index tumbled to an 11-week low on Wednesday on fears of a contagion from the unrest that toppled Tunisia’s president and further volatility is expected as investors eye Egypt’s 2011 presidential election.”

At the same time, analysts say that the greater political freedom enjoyed by opposition groups in Egypt — relative to their Tunisian counterparts — serves as a pressure valve that can release political tension without undermining the Mubarak regime.

Even so, The Guardian now reports:

The Egyptian dissident Mohamed ElBaradei has warned of a “Tunisia-style explosion” in his country as self-immolation protests proliferated and anti-government activists announced plans for a nationwide “day of anger” next week.

But the former UN nuclear weapons chief stopped short of calling on his supporters to take to the streets, prompting scathing criticism from opposition campaigners who believe ElBaradei is squandering a rare opportunity to bring an end to President Hosni Mubarak’s three decades of autocratic rule.

Today Ahmed Hashem el-Sayed, 25, from the Mediterranean port city of Alexandria, died in hospital after setting himself alight on the roof of his home. It was the latest in a series of self-immolation incidents that have spread through Egypt over the past two days, after the Tunisian vegetable trader Muhammad Bouazizi’s self-immolation provided the catalyst for the toppling of his country’s president last week.

“What has transpired in Tunisia is no surprise and should be very instructive both for the political elite in Egypt and those in the west that back dictatorships,” ElBaradei told the Guardian. “Suppression does not equal stability, and anybody who thinks that the existence of authoritarian regimes is the best way to maintain calm is deluding themselves.”

Within hours of Elbaradei refusing to throw his weight behind street protests as he told The Guardian “I would like to use the means available from within the system to effect change, such as the petition we are gathering demanding political reform,” he expressed a different sentiment on Twitter: “Fully support call 4 peaceful demonstrations vs. repression & corruption. When our demands for change fall on deaf ears what options remain?”

Swiftly and sarcastically, Demagh MAK in Cairo responded: “@ElBaradei Are u going to join us in the streets or you just supporting on twitter #Egypt #Jan25?”

Not withstanding pro forma expressions of support for “democratic reform,” it seems unlikely the Obama administration would welcome the prospect of democracy in Egypt.

When President Obama addressed the Muslim world from Cairo in 2009 he did so without a murmur of criticism directed at his dictator host, Hosni Mubarak. If Mubarak was to fall from power or fail to successfully pass the presidency to him son Gamal, the inevitable result would be an Egyptian government in which the Muslim Brotherhood would wield significant power — a prospect that both Washington and Israel fear.

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4 thoughts on “Could Egypt follow Tunisia?

  1. Ian Arbuckle

    “a prospect that both Washington and Israel fear”

    I am sure that must be an understatement, and based on the most recent and compromised Egyptian parliamentary elections on 28 November 2010 and 5th December, I am sure neither Baradai nor the Muslim Brotherhood are holding their breaths in any expectations of a “fair” presidential vote later this year. So I would imagine that the opposition will be making very serious hay while this “people power” sun shines. Also I would imagine that Secretary Clinton and the CIA will be pulling out every stop this time to pre-empt what will apparently seem like a “spontaneous” eruption in the Egyptian street on the 25th.

    I wish them (the Egyptian people) every success!

  2. Christopher Hoare

    Elbaradei is almost certain to be too much a centrist and too instilled in the theories of democracy to lead a revolution, or he would never become head of the UN nuclear authority. So the Egyptians must look to more radical groups for lead.

    He would be very useful if he draws enough attention to himself that the CIA and Egyptian authorities miss the gathering of stronger storm clouds. The US foothold in the Middle East would be dislodged if any more of their dictator allies is ousted, so Washington is liable to storm around like a frightened bull in a china shop and make a revolution more likely.

  3. Norman

    In light of the present U.S.Government, Re: “Who’s calling the shots”, if Wall Street is, then it’s a no-brainer that the Business elite is responsible for the “Empire” in decline. The corruption both in the U.S.Government & the Arab Middle East, go hand in hand, which is causing the populations to rethink their positions. This should be a wake up call to the U.S. Government, clean up your act, before the same fate befalls the country.

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