The setting • Egypt is a large, mostly Arab, mostly Muslim country. • At around 80 million people, it has the largest population in the Middle East and the third-largest in Africa. • It has been ruled by Hosni Mubarak since 1981.
Why are Egyptians Unhappy? • Egypt is ranked 138th of 167 countries on The Economist's Democracy index, a widely accepted measure of political freedom. • Government corruption and poverty • Egyptians are significantly poorer than their cousins to the west. Morocco, Algeria, etc.
How did this start? • This particular round of protests started with the protests in Tunisia. • The specific incident of the June 2010 beating death of Khaled Said at the hands of police • It's also clear that the issues here are larger. (see previous notes)
What does Tunisia have to do with it? • Tunisia is a mostly Arab, mostly Muslim country in North Africa. • The current ruler was Zine El Abidine Ben Ali (Ben Ali), has ruled since 1987. • He is the kind of ruler who gets re-elected with 90 percent of the "vote."
Tunisian Protests • Unhappy because of lack of freedom, not enough jobs, repressive regime • How did it all start? On December 19, authorities seized the produce cart that 26-year-old Mohamed Bouazizi was using to make a living. So Bouazizi set himself on fire. • People began rioting after Bouazizi died in early January. • By Jan. 14, Ben-Ali had fled to Saudi Arabia
Why is this important to the U.S.? • The U.S. is the primary benefactor of the Egyptian regime, which, in turn, has reliably supported American regional priorities. A key ally. • After Iraq, Afghanistan, and Israel, Egypt is the largest recipient of U.S. assistance, including $1.3 billion in annual military aid.
Government Control • Internet, cell phone service was shut down in Egypt on Jan. 26 • Twitter was being used to rally protesters • The Army said it would not harm protestors • A phone company, Vodaphone, said that Egyptian authorities have been controlling the network and sending out pro-government messages Samples: • The Armed Forces asks Egypt's honest and loyal men to confront the traitors and criminals and protect our people and honor and our precious Egypt. • Youth of Egypt, beware rumors and listen to the sound of reason - Egypt is above all so preserve it. • To every mother-father-sister-brother, to every honest citizen preserve this country as the nation is forever. • The Armed Forces cares for your safety and well being and will not resort to using force against this great nation.
Yesterday • Pro-government supporters showed up to confront protestors • They include two possible groups: • The people who are satisfied with Mubaraks promise not to run for President again. • Hired thugs (majority most likely)