Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Ahead of Algeria's "Day of Rage"

Algerian university students have already launched a general and indefinite strike ahead of the planned February 12 protests. It is difficult to prognosticate with great deal of accuracy about where the Algerian protests will go and it seems more and more analysts are cautions not to fall in the trap of over-generalization, expecting a domino-effect of sorts in the Arab world. Andrew Lebovich's excellent piece in today Middle East Channel on Foreign Policy predicts small-scale protests, but nothing à la Tunisian/Egyptian scenarios.


Already the Syrian "days of rage" last week didn't amount to anything significant. Syria is probably not ready yet for a mass uprising in a country where the Assad cult personality has managed to depoliticize Syrian society, and the security (mukhabarat) system has maintained a close grip on all socio-political activities in Syria's bunker state. However in a surprise but calculated move to keep tabs on potential irevolutionaries, Syria has lifted the ban on Facebook, Youtube and Twitter.

As events unfold in Tunisia and Egypt, Arab autocrats must all be concerned about the state of their republics and kingdoms. The Arab street has broken the shackles of fear towards their governments. No longer are Arabs lacking in bravery in their demands towards better governance, rule of law and individual freedoms. Years of economic deprivation and political decay are now under microscopic examination around the world. The pressure is on the tyrants to reform. It is not surprising that many are in a race to offer preventive cosmetic changes.


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