Sunday, January 09, 2011

North African Protests

Al-Jazeera is reporting that 20 people were killed yesterday in a government crackdown on Tunisian protests. In a little sign of the greater environment, several days ago students at a Tunisian university spelled out "Free Tunisia" with their bodies. Also, in late December, protests began in Algeria, which have continued. The Moor Next Door writes a long post analyzing these developments, which you need to read in full.

One perspective, associated with Brian Whitaker and Marc Lynch, holds that these developments could form an early part of a broader wave of protests in the Arab world which could even destabilize long-secure regimes. This perspective needs to be handled carefully. Although authoritarianism and corruption play a role, a larger background issue is the weakness of the global economy. In themselves, these protests, like the wave of strikes in Egypt, have all arisen out of strictly local economic grievances. However, in the age of satellite television, it is possible that a linking narrative will form, one which unites them into a larger struggle. The formation of such a narrative and any sign of popular acceptance is the sign to watch for.

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2 Comments:

Anonymous First said...

Yeah, I agree with where you're coming from on this - why do Brian Whitaker and Marc Lynch see almost every protest as signifying the start of the much anticipated transformation of the Arab world? It's like with the neocons it's always 1938, with Marc Lynch and co it's always 1989 and the walls are about to come tumbling down.

7:53 PM  
Blogger Brian said...

Lynch noted the possibility, but was fairly skeptical in his analysis. I do think Whitaker is expecting too much.

7:57 PM  

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