|First, Tunisia. Then Egypt. Who's next?|
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They are falling one by one.
Popular uprisings toppling one dictator after another in a domino affect whose time is precise and perfect, its almost as if they’re coordinated with each other.
It began last December 2010 in Tunisia, when Mohamed Bouazizi, an unemployed vendor with a college degree set himself on fire (self-immolation) as a protest against confiscation of his vegetable cart and subsequent insulting by Tunisian authorities. Bouazizi became an overnight symbol of the corrupt and inept government of Tunisia. News of his deadly protest spread like wildfire in various social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. Immediately, supporters of the opposition to long-time president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, who ruled the Mediterranean nation since 1987, organized street protests and called for his immediate resignation. On January 14, 2011, Ben Ali and his family fled the country after mounting pressure for his resignation and went to exile in Saudi Arabia. He and his family has since been wanted on charges of corruption.
Since then, the success of the Tunisian Revolution has sent shockwaves throughout the Arab World. Next to sway in the string of popular uprisings is Egypt. Right now, the country’s pro-democracy citizens have been on the streets for a tenth day of protest calling on long-time strongman President Hosni Mubarak to step down. Mubarak has defied such called in the early days of the protest, but has recently announced plans to resign gracefully after protests turned violent due to clashes between pro and anti-Mubarak demonstrators. Other impoverished, monarchy-ruled countries to feel the temors of the Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions are Yemen (where opposition to the 32-year rule by Ali Abdullah Saleh is mounting in the streets; Saleh has since announched that he will not seek reelection or appoint his son to succeed him), Jordan (where King Abdullah has named a new prime minister in an effort to respond to reforms called by the opposition) and Algeria (where President Abdelaziz Bouteflika lifted the State of Emergency raised in 1992 in order to prevent copycat protests). Sudan, Libya, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Mauritania, Oman, Morocco and Djibouti have also began to feel its effects too.
These protests are a symbol of what most Arab states are under right now – autocratic and oppressive regimes who have failed to deliver social justice to its people despite its country’s relative wealth in recent years. Tunisia, Egypt, Algeria, Jordan and Libya are states that have benefited a lot from the impact of oil and tourism industry in their country. They have promising economic development and yet they their governments have failed to trickle this wealth down to the grassroots of its society. This isn’t about Islamization as the United States and EU thinks. While there are fears that Islamists might take advantage of these events, the ideology underneath these protest are fueled not by an extremely Muslim mind but an extremely oppressed heart, gagged voice and hungry stomach.
And so as these protests drag on, the question to ask now is: Where is this shockwave heading? What is the likelihood that these revolutions will also affect other totalitarian regimes outside the Arab World?
To be continued...