Sunday, January 30, 2011


I asked @wayupnorth to help me understand what's going on currently in Tunisia, Egypt and the Middle East... she wrote me a quick summary:

The Arab world has long been split, which is one of the reasons Israel gets away with treating the Palestinian Arabs so badly and blockading them in the Gaza strip.

The area involved is North Africa/Middle East.

In Jordan there's a royal family. Same in Saudi Arabia. Both very rich (while their people are poor.) In Yemen there is a dictator for about 26 years. Mubarak has been a dictator in Egypt for the past 30 years. Tunisia had dictator Ben Ali. All of these guys ripped off their countries and the people had unemployment and poverty, etc. Fifty per cent of Egypt's people live below the poverty line. Mubarak used his police to torture, imprison, and subdue the people, while rigging elections so he got 97% of the vote. All these Arab dictators keep/kept their people in line through fear. And they were never united (e.g., to help the Palestinians) as they were all looking out for No 1.

In Tunisia, a poor young man who was fed up with the police taking his unlicensed vegetable cart, set himself on fire, and eventually died on January 4. This sparked a huge rebellion on the streets, and after a few days, the dictator there, Ben Ali, fled to Saudi Arabia. There were murmurs that a "domino effect" *might* happen across the Arab world.

But nobody expected Egypt to erupt. Egypt (huge) is an ally of the US (like Saudi Arabia) and has a peace treaty with Israel -- even helping Israel with blockading Gaza. Everyone despised Mubarak, and the US stands accused of using him to torture people under "extraordinary rendition". Egypt also controls the Suez Canal, which is hugely important.

Several people had set fire to themselves in Egypt recently. On Facebook, a young group organised a general protest about food prices and unemployment for #Jan25. It's been going on ever since, getting bigger by the day, and now they want Mubarak out. Mubarak's family have fled to the UK, but he's still in Cairo. The US is "making noises" (waffle) and Israel is saying nothing. But the implications are *huge* for the whole region.

Thanks Mum... love as always. D.


Anonymous said...

Thanks @wayupnorth and @irldexter for the summary (and posting) of the situation over there. I'd also found it hard to understand all that was at play.

Very easy to be caught in the movement, as apposed to connecting the dots.

@wayupnorth said...


"vegetable cart" not card. My typo!

By the way, best photos I've seen have been uploaded at this link (I think they're Reuters pix, but unattributed):

Best coverage by far is Al Jazeera English online here:

@wayupnorth said...

Looks like Al Jazeera has just been banned

but they say they'll continue reporting.

Póló said...

Agree Wade.

You need a simple stark starting point from which to burrow your way into this whole mess and the above fits the bill perfectly.

A "with attitude" approach is also essential to avoid getting side-tracked by irrelevant spin.

@wayupnorth is monitoring this stuff on Twitter and provides an informed and distilled alternative to the inane mutterings of the main stream media on this and other human rights affairs.

Interesting that the "demos" in democracy, while meaning "the people" could also be taken as an English language abbreviation of "taking to the streets".