I've been watching the millions of protesters in Cairo this morning and trying to keep myself informed on the situation. At this point, Mubarak is still hanging on to power, but IMO, I don't see how long he can.
I've been reading Juan Cole's Informed Comment and found this post most interesting [note items #2 and 4]:
"Nobelist in chemistry, Dr. Ahmed Zewail of the California Institute of Technology, is an Egyptian-American who has sometimes been mentioned as a candidate for president of Egypt. He has served as a science envoy to the Arab world of President Obama.
In an interview on Aljazeera Arabic, Zewail called for fundamental change in Egypt, not just cosmetic alterations. He gave as the causes for the current uprising:
1. Power games among the elite, competition over the succession to President Hosni Mubarak, lack of transparency and phony elections.
2. The economic situation: the masses of the poor have been left behind, the situation of the middle class has actually gone backward, while a small elite at the top benefits from what economic progress there is– because of a marriage of power and capital.
3. Corruption and constant demands for bribes by officials.
4. Education: The deterioration of the education system, which is central to every Egyptian household’s hopes of progress, to a state that does not in any way reflect Egypt’s standing in the world."
And reader "DZ" over at Talking Points Memo makes this observation:
"I worked and lived in SE Asia a few years after Princeton so actually believe the parallel to watch re:Egypt may be Indonesia, the most populous Muslim one. We propped up Suharto from 1965 on but when he collapsed, there was a shift to a nominal democracy which continues under President SBY, following Gus Dur and Sukarnoputri.
There are many parallels, inc. presence of a strong minority religion (Copts in Egypt, Hindus in Indonesia). I did a long study of the Ikhwan il-Muslimeem (Muslim Brotherhood) decades ago; there is not such a parallel in Indonesia although there are some very backward Muslims there who've long enjoyed funding from Tripoli and Riyadh. I sure hope Egypt tips Indonesia's way!
TPM's comment: 'These are obviously much more pleasant analogies for the US than the Iran analogy. And we shouldn't discount that one. But it also shows just how much the catastrophic end result in Iran colors American views of these situations when there are other historical examples that are at least plausible. ' "
[NOTE: Friends who were traveling in Egypt when the chaos broke out have safely arrived home to Massachusetts.]