Wednesday, 2 February 2011


While it is indeed true that the uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia, each country with its unique history and institutions, have some differences, I am not at all certain that the differences are nearly as pronounced or as significant as the similarities. Minimizing the role of Tunisia's foreign dependence - mainly on France and US - and arguing that the police played a greater role in Tunisia than in Egypt appears to be so on the surface only. After all, it is the Egyptian police in civilian clothes that engaged protesters in bloody conflict, while the military has been much more aloof if not friendly toward demonstrators.

Institutionally the police in Tunisia have played a more significant role than the military, while in Egypt institutionally it was the army and has been since 1952. But was Tunisia a 'police state' in the classic sense of the term or simply another authoritarian regime that heavily used the police whose leadership is now purged by the new regime. For that matter, Yemen's Interior Ministry and police has a comparable role as Tunisia, but is Yemen, where the uprising is continuing but largely ignored by mass media because of Egypt, a police state? Is there an Arab police state, where the power base of political power for the regime rests on the police?

As far as the Israelis sending military assistance via Cyprus, and the claim that the US is playing the usual dual foreign policy role - one  for the cameras, namely 'we are for the people' hollow rhetoric, but behind the scenes backing Mubarak, that is only a reflection of Washington and Tel Aviv policies and tangible interests behind a regime in which US and Israel have invested a great deal in the last three decades. But what does US and Israeli behind the scenes activity really mean in terms of the outcome of this uprising?

The Mubarak regime is finished, and it will be finished much faster than people think especially if it is true and the word gets out that Israel and US are trying to save Mubarak who is the symbol not just of Egypt as a US satellite, but of broader western and Arab economic and geopolitical interests. For example, 10 banks in London and Switzerland, collectively managing $4 trillion in assets, have reported concern on the part of very wealthy clients worried about Egypt. As Egypt's largest aid donor, the US has to cover all bases, ranging from protecting financial interests to preparing to deal with the next regime more or less the way it dealt with Mubarak and before him Sadat.

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