General Question

seazen's avatar

Did you foresee the events in Tunisia, Egypt and Yemen - and what will be the outcome of the riots and protests?

Asked by seazen (6113points) January 28th, 2011

I swear I saw it coming – I predict it’ll happen in Iran as well – which is why I’m sort of glad that Obama took the “soft” approach and may have saved us from a WW3 type situation.

Alas, many smarter and more learned than I feel that democracy just can’t cut it in certain countries, especially African and Middle Eastern ones. Perhaps they are right. But the people have taken to the streets – actually toppled governments, and have asked the world to help them to establish something else – something, shall we say, less corrupt in the least, more democratic like at best.

What will happen?

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25 Answers

Nullo's avatar

Honestly, I forget that those countries even exist sometimes.

The tendency is for the status quo to be maintained; I see no reason why the riots wouldn’t be put down and people be made to resume their drudgery.

As an aside, I think that it is important to keep in mind that while democracy (and its variants) makes for a darn good system, it is by no means the ideal system.

phaedryx's avatar

Huh. I work with a Kuwaiti guy and have talked with him quite a bit about his country’s government. It sounds pretty democratic to me. I don’t think that “middle east” and “democracy” are mutually exclusive; Iran was once a democracy.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

I didn’t foresee anything of what’s happening in these countries, but I’m hopeful that the outcome will be a turn toward more democratic governments in the area.

Jaxk's avatar

It’s unfortunate. Revolutions have a tendency to result in a rise to power of unsavory characters. Not always but often enough. Especially if the population is dirt poor. They have a tendency to believe the guy that tells them he can fix all thier problems if they just give him the power.

But what will really happen? The price of gas is going up, that’s for sure.

incendiary_dan's avatar

Considering that food shortages are getting worse, and these were some of the countries that had the most outstanding riots two years previous, I wasn’t surprised. Those sort of tensions combined with obviously corrupt governments tends to lead to revolutions.

seazen's avatar

@phaedryx This is from Kuwait’s own Homepage:

Kuwait is a constitutional, hereditary emirate ruled by princes (Amirs) who have been drawn from the Al Sabah family since the middle of the 18th century. The 1962 constitution provides for an elected National Assembly and details the powers of the branches of government and the rights of citizens. Under the Constitution, the National Assembly has a limited role in approving the Amir’s choice of the Crown Prince, who succeeds the Amir upon his death. If the National Assembly rejects his nominee, the Amir then submits three names of qualified candidates from among the direct descendants of Mubarak the Great, the founder of modern Kuwait, from which the Assembly must choose the new Crown Prince. Successions have been orderly since independence. In January 2006, the National Assembly played a symbolically important role in the succession process, which was seen as an assertion of parliament’s constitutional powers.

For almost 40 years, the Amir appointed the Crown Prince as Kuwait’s Prime Minister. However, in July 2003, the Amir formally separated the two positions and appointed a different ruling family member as Prime Minister.

meiosis's avatar

@phaedryx Iran was indeed a democracy, until the USA and the UK helped the Shah of Iran with a coup d’état in 1953 in order to help secure oil supplies. This installed an ugly authoritarian government that ultimately led to 1979’s Islamic Revolution.

I think we should keep our hypocritical noses out of other countries’ affairs.

global_nomad's avatar

I can’t say that I foresaw the events coming in Egypt. I mean, I knew the people were angry with Mubarak and that no one liked him. But even after I heard about the revolution in Tunisia, I never thought Egypt would overthrow the government. I used to live there (and still know people living there) and I am honestly surprised that the people were able to organize and orchestrate such a big demonstration. The anger has been building for years though, and I don’t think the people will stop until Mubarak steps down. I don’t know what the heck he thinks he is doing. It’s not the government the people have a problem with, it’s Mubarak’s dictatorial leadership. Naming a Omar Suleiman as the new Vice President will not help anything. Ugh, he is being ridiculous. Perhaps someone is in denial? It’s just sad though because what started out as a relatively peaceful protest against a dictatorial regime has turned into total anarchy and chaos. There are always the crazies who just have to take advantage of a lack of authority.

I wish I could say that Egypt will become a democracy but I really don’t think it will. I mean Nasser overthrew the King in order to end autocratic rule and well, that didn’t really work out down the road, now did it? Someone else will come to power claiming to have established a democracy and then he’ll be President for the next 30 years. I hope I’m wrong though. But man, things are so corrupt over there. Do you know how easy it is to bribe a policeman?

As far as conditions in the Middle East go, I think Jordan may have some trouble and I think Saudi Arabia would too if they didn’t have such tight control over the media and the people. Whoever comes to power next in Egypt will basically determine the fate of Israel/Palestine. If the new President chooses to ignore the peace treaty then Israel is screwed because Egypt was their only ally. I’m assuming the reason why the U.S. government and Obama have been so silent on the issue is that they are afraid of supporting the protesters (even though they are calling for democracy and the people actually want American support for once) because they are afraid of who will come to power. I mean, Mubarak may not have been the President of a real democracy but at least he kept peace in the Middle East.

Phew! Sorry about the lengthy answer, I just wanted to have my two cents.

phaedryx's avatar

@seazen okay… and?... I’m not sure what you are getting at.

Here’s how I understand it. The Emir, the prime minister and his cabinet (as you’ve described it) effectively make up the executive branch. Their roles and responsibilities, the size of the cabinet, etc. are defined by a constitution.

The National assembly is the legislative branch. It is directly elected.

The summary court, constitutional court, court of appeals, etc. make up a third, independent judiciary branch.

Women can vote and hold elected office.

bea2345's avatar

I imagined that something of the kind would happen, but not where and when. These demonstrators are mostly literate, many with secondary and tertiary education and have no future. The kind of economy that would fulfil the promise implied by improved health services and better communications: has simply not happened, except, perhaps, in Turkey. Their governments are corrupt and incompetent and have had no new ideas about ruling since the middle ages.

seazen's avatar

@phaedryx Not to put too fine a point on it, but Kuwait is a constitutional, hereditary emirate ruled by princes – this is their own description – can’t be called a democracy methinks. Not that it matters.

phaedryx's avatar

@seazen I consider that one step behind the UK in the evolution towards full democracy. Also, the elected assembly can choose who the next crown prince will be.

I acknowledge that it isn’t completely democratic (which is why I described it as “pretty democratic”), but I also think it is unfair to sort Kuwait into the “not a democracy” category.

I think it matters quite a bit, actually. It perpetuates the argument “that democracy just can’t cut it in certain countries, especially African and Middle Eastern ones”.

seazen's avatar

Hmmm. I disagree – but I’ll agree to disagree – and give you that if you consider it “pretty democratic” – and I do not – then I’ll give you that it does in fact matter quite a bit – to you. Sorry – we aint on the same page here. But then, I live here in the ME and see things quite differently. To each his own.


mattbrowne's avatar

I recently read a highly interesting book written by a Egyptian-German political scientist named Hamed Abdel-Samad (which is unfortunately only available in German right now). In a recent SPIEGEL interview, also available in English, he talks about his childhood as the son of an imam in Egypt, why he thinks Islam is a danger to society and his theories about the inevitable decline of the Muslim world. Here are some parts of it, which are really worth reading:

One of his books is not only available in German, but also in Arabic and many newspapers in Egypt wrote about it. He was also invited to give speeches. But he has also received many death threats and for a period of time the German police had to protect him.

seazen's avatar

@mattbrowne We need about 1 billion more like him. Slightly more.

mattbrowne's avatar

@seazen – He flew to Egypt couple of days ago to join the protesters. German television calls him from time to time and ask him for updates.

Two days ago, a German teacher and his family returned to Germany from Alexandria. Mubarak supporters keep attacking foreigners, not only journalists but also teachers. Police in Alexandria no longer works. So what happened was that brave private citizens organized protection for this family. They were armed with knifes and sticks to fend off these criminals who might have otherwise harmed this teacher, his wife and daughter. Amazing. They would give their lives for these Christian foreigners. They are heroes and a good example that there are a great many good Muslims with good hearts. The West needs to stop thinking Islam equals terrorism. A lot of good Muslims are really upset about this. Mubarak murdered hundreds of good people in prison. The West needs to stop supporting him. And no more money for Egyptian military as long as it is run by a criminal like Mubarak.

seazen's avatar

Let’s just hope it ends peacefully with a Mubarak-like President, and not an Ahmendinijad, Hammas or Hizballah puppet operated by the Muslim brotherhood – which it very well might. That would be scary.

mattbrowne's avatar

Many people say the Moslem Brotherhood won’t get more than 20–30% of the votes. The young Egyptians seem to want a modern Egypt and they reject dark ages political Islam.

Jaxk's avatar


The problem I see is that they don’t have a viable alternative to Mubarak. They want him out immediately but don’t have a replacement. I’ve listened to a few of the interviews with students in Egypt, and they don’t know who should take the reins of government. That makes them ripe for a totalitarian takeover. And the groups organized to take advantage of that situation are not in anybody’s best interests. A scary scenario.

mattbrowne's avatar

@Jaxk – I have faith in the young Egyptians. They will come up with an alternative. Even ElBaradei would be far better than Mubarak. Far more important are a new constitution and a truly free press (which is actually already emerging). In the meantime I doubt that Muslim Brotherhood will conduct a totalitarian takeover (something the Iranian mullahs seem to be hoping for).

Jaxk's avatar


I hope you’re right. It takes time to get a free and open election and it takes a certain level of stability. The rush to make it happen worries me. The possible candidates are not widely known. Decisions made in haste are usually poor ones.

mattbrowne's avatar

@Jaxk – The discussion about possible candidates has already begun.

bea2345's avatar

It does not matter who, or what, replaces Mubarak and his government. After a certain point, governments can only lead the way if the population is willing. This unrest is chiefly the consequence of young people being left out of the development process in spite of the huge sums spent on their education. We in the West Indies are only too painfully aware that our graduates from university and other tertiary level institutions are having difficulty finding jobs commensurate with their skills. The problem is not money, it is the lack of planning. If you are training radiologists, then there have to be machines and clinics. If you are training engineers, they have to have an occupation. Unsurprisingly, our young people feel cheated and that is exactly what is happening in Egypt.

mattbrowne's avatar

@bea2345 – The problem are Egyptian school books and the pre-enlightenment mindset of Egyptian teachers.

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