The unrest in Egypt is far from over, but opinion-makers are already predicting what happens next. The spirit of revolt in the Arab world, which began with the Tunisian riots, may yet bring about the end of the Mubarak regime in Egypt and has also moved into Yemen. If a "domino effect" follows, like the one that ended Communist rule in Europe in 1989, which country could face a popular uprising next? Commentators examine the possibilities:
While the ongoing protests in Yemen have so far been suppressed by the government, demonstrators are planning a so-called "orderly uprising" on February 3, says Jane at The Jawa Report. If it happens, this revolution could be "unpredictable and very painful," far more dangerous than the uprisings in Egypt or Tunisia, says Moustafa Bahran at the Yemen Observer. Yemenis are "mostly illiterate and armed."
The parallels between Egypt and Syria are startling, reports Hugh Macleod at Al Jazeera. Both have been "ruled for decades by a single party, with a security service that maintains an iron grip on its citizens." And both have a "ballooning youth demographic" struggling with high levels of unemployment. So far, there are few signs of "potential unrest" on the streets of Damascus, but it's rumored that authorities restricted internet traffic to "prevent citizens hearing about Cairo." The "Syrians are watching."
Last week, President Omar al-Bashir arrested his Islamist opposition leader, Hassan al-Turabi, for "calling for a Tunisia-style uprising," says Joshua Keating at Foreign Policy. In response, activists in Khartoun protested, "looking to emulate recent developments in Tunisia and Egypt." Police clashed with demonstrators, leaving at least one student killed, and violence continues to escalate. The repressive Sudanese government will be difficult to topple, says Shadi Bushra at the Stanford Progressive, but "I fully believe that a popular revolution is possible."
Unemployment and high food prices saw Algerians take to the streets in January, says the BBC, as protests escalated in neighboring Tunisia. However, the government was able to stamp out demonstrations by acting quickly to contain food prices. As a result, "the protests have not escalated in the same way as in Tunisia."
Protesters in Jordan have demonstrated for three consecutive Fridays against the government, leading commentators to conclude that Prime Minister Samir Rifai may be forced to resign. "But Jordan is run by a royal family," says the BBC, and many Jordanians remain loyal to the King. "So far protests have been peaceful and there have been no arrests."
A new WikiLeaks cable reporting the "bad behavior and lavish parties" of the Qaddafi family "threatens to stir unrest in Libya," says Philip Shenon at The Daily Beast. And while there haven't been any street protests yet, "dipomats and scholars" say that Libyans are almost as angry at leader Muammar al-Qaddafi as "their Arab brethren across their border" are at Hosni Mubarak. Qaddafi seems to be aware that revolt is brewing, says James M. Dorsey at Bleacher Report. He's "cancelled all soccer matches" in the country to prevent them from turning into anti-government rallies.
Although, like Tunisia and Egypt, Morocco has been ruled by an autocratic regime, says Matt Schuman at Morocco Board News, a popular uprising is unlikely for three reasons. One, poverty is "not oppressive" in Morocco. "People are poor but do not starve." Two, Morocco does not have the "large, educated middle class" that fueled protests in Tunisia. A majority of Moroccans are illiterate, and unlikely to organize a revolt. And three, "Moroccans love stability." The "political and social status quo" means they "don't have to worry about what tomorrow will bring."
"Can such a revolution take place in Pakistan?" asks Maheen Usmani at the Express Tribune. We too "yearn for dignity, respect and human rights." If our warring groups and tribes can "unite under one banner," it's possible to imagine revolution here, too, against our "bellicose leaders bent on exploiting ethnic divides and vested interests."
While "most observers assume that the next Egypt" is in the Middle East, says Gordon G. Chang at Forbes, don't underestimate China. "Beijing's leaders are concerned that 1.3 billion enraged souls will rise up and tear down the People's Republic of China." Sound unlikely? China's leaders are "losing their ability to intimidate," and the only thing keeping the Chinese from protesting is fear. "We could see the third Chinese revolution this year."
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- How academia's liberal bias is killing social science
- You should be furious about Hollywood's gutless retreat on The Interview
- Hey, bosses: Stop giving bonuses to your employees
- Why the Sony hack changes everything
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- Why torture doesn't work: A definitive guide
- Capitalism isn't a cure-all for Cuba
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- One girl's extraordinarily wild world
- Vox, derp, and the intellectual stagnation of the left
Subscribe to the Week