Answers to basic “why” questions about Egypt

Why are protests happening now? Why is it taking longer than Tunisia? Why is the U.S. waffling?

Topics: Egyptian Protests,

Answers to basic "why" questions about EgyptA wounded man reads a newspaper in Cairo, Egypt, Monday Jan. 31, 201. A coalition of opposition groups called for a million people to take to Cairo's streets Tuesday to ratchet up pressure for President Hosni Mubarak to leave. (AP Photo/Mohammed Abou Zaid)(Credit: AP)

The turmoil in Egypt, an integral American ally in the Middle East, threatens to throw the whole region into a tailspin. But why?

Why is this happening now?

  • Egypt’s recent election fraud is a fresh wound on a people who have had their basic rights to freedom violated for decades. (human rights watch)
  • Fringe and terrorist groups in the Middle East are becoming increasingly attractive to disenfranchised people, threatening the stability of governments that suppress the rights of their people. (Reuters)
  • The Tunisian revolution acted as a powder keg that set off a chain of dissent throughout the Arabic world. (Times of India)

Why has it been so much more difficult for protesters in Egypt to succeed than for Tunisians?

  • President Mubarak has allowed dissenting voices to exist, creating at least the illusion of freedom that Ben Ali did not. (IPS News)
  • The Egyptian military is strongly connected to the Egyptian government, giving it greater reason to see the government upheld. (Reuters)
  • U.S. support — economic and military aid — helps strengthen Mubarak’s regime. (The Atlantic)

Why has the White House waffled on its stance toward the protests?



  • A concern facing Obama is that if he is too quick to condemn a friend, other Middle Eastern allies might worry about the strength of their ties to the U.S. (L.A. Times)
  • The U.S. has made its support of the demands of the protests clear, but struggles with condemning a close ally. (Newsweek)
  • The White House has begun acting as if Mubarak will not remain in power, and is cautious about its next step. (Politico)

 

Justin Spees is an editorial fellow at Salon.

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