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Sunday, February 6, 2011

Is the Middle East in the middle of a new Revolution?

Some times, some people, just get fed up with the same ol'e same ol'e. This appears to be the case in Egypt after 30 odd years of Hoseni Mubarak at the helm.

If you have not heard, there are large protests in Egypt with protesters asking for President Mubarak to step down and for a peaceful, democratic, transition. The thing is with leaders like Mubarak- who can almost, if not certainly, be classified as a dictator- is that they do not go down easily. In fact, they try their hardest to secure power for the next generation after they have formally left the seat of authority. Sometimes they even stay around- like Vladimir Putin in Russia (even though he is not classified as a dictator)- to pull strings as if they had never left.

If you have not also heard, is that in Egypt, Mubarak appointed a Vice President in a Mr. Omar Suleiman, who was also the Egyptian head of intelligence. Whether or not he will be a crowd favourite in Egypt in the months to come is the issue. But, he has been used by the United States in the past as the chief head of operations for US military operations in the Middle East. Mr. Suleiman is also the chief architect of the Egyptian/Israeli peace accord-- by extension, holding extremist at bay from bringing holy hell and fire upon Israel.

However, Egypt is not the only case of revolution in the Middle East currently. Yemen has just ousted it's president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, and sent him packing to Saudi Arabia. No strong word yet on what would or should happen in Yemen after his departure, but one can imagine that everyone is very concerned about this power vac um.

Yemen is a hot spot for terrorism. In fact, Yemen is on the Al-Queda watch list for America. If you can remember, the Christmas day Nigerian bomber was trained in Yemen as well as a number of other "suspicious" activities surrounding money transfers and "chatter" coming from Yemen to the outside world, has prompted security analysts to look very closely at Yemen. See the Council on Foreign Relations website for more background notes.

The situation on Yemen has calmed down now. However, the power structure is still non-functioning. This can breed more terrorist cells and harbour more persons wishing to indulge in illicit acts- and not just terrorism alone- and remain a festering boil on the backs of the Yemeni people. We need to watch this closely.

Even before Yemen and Egypt, there was Tunisia. A somewhat mild revolution compared to that of Egypt at least, but now as we look back, a bellwether to the most recent demonstrations that we have seen in Egypt. President Ben Ali was ousted, the prime minister shuffled the Cabinet and we are now at a point where the new cabinet must deliver or face the consequences of Ben Ali.

Perhaps we were all fooling ourselves? Perhaps it is a course of nature, considering how the economy was so bad for so long and that people were bound to revolt. Perhaps this was the case? Perhaps what happened in Iran last year was a forewarning to us all. Perhaps all other regime collapses of this year can weather the storm as did the Iranian regime? We will have to wait and see.

We should all be watching. It's not as if the Middle East is like any other region. Terrorism is the main watchword and Al-Queda need only one or two more dysfunctional societies for them to take root and disrupt the rest of the world again. I remarked on my Facebooj page that this looks like the 1970's all over again for the Middle East... it appears to be so!!!
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