This has been a weekend of political unrest in several countries, most notably in Egypt. It would seem that the society in Egypt is totally out of control, and I would think that the only way that things will be calmed down will be by the removal of President Mubarak. As a sort of Political/News/Geography junkie, I have been keeping a close eye on the happenings in Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen, Jordan and elsewhere over the past week or so. It is quite surprising to me how quickly all of this came to pass in the Middle East region, and I wonder where it will stop.
All of these happenings have really reminded me of the happenings in the Philippines in January 2001. During the last quarter of 2000, there were Impeachment hearings against President Estrada in Manila. By the end of 2000 and into the beginning of 2001, it became obvious that the Impeachment hearings had turned into nothing but a whitewash, and no real justice would prevail. The Filipino people, for the second time in less than two decades took to the streets with a “People Power” movement. Within just a few days of massive protests, President Estrada was removed from office, and a new President took the helm, President Arroyo.
In the previous paragraph, I said that January 2001 was the second time that the Philippine people had taken to the streets and brought an administration down. The first incident, which is very famous, was the People Power Revolution in 1986, which was lead by Corazon Aquino, and deposed President Ferdinand Marcos.
As I watch the events in Egypt on TV, the similarities to what I witnessed in 2001 are very clear to me. The tanks in the streets. The masses of people. Some of the military forces actually switching sides and joining the people in protest against the government. Yes, I’ve seen this before, and I expect that it will end in Egypt the same way it has ended twice in the Philippines, with the removal of the leader.
On Sunday, as I was watching the demonstrations in Egypt, I saw one person holding a sign that said:
America, stop siding with Mubarak. We don’t want to hate America.
Well, I suspect that there are some who want to hate America and there are some who do not. But, the US is in a very touchy position in Egypt. Mubarak has been a staunch US ally for 30 years, and Sadat before him. Yet, if the US continues to support Mubarak, it will lead to a lot of negative feelings among the Egyptian people. Here in the Philippines, 25 years after Marcos was ousted, I still have Filipino people ask me why the US supported Marcos. So, US support will lead to hard feelings after Mubarak is ousted, I have no doubt about that. It has been said on the news that tear gas canisters being used in Egypt to keep the crowds under control have writing on them that says: “Made in the USA”. That will be a hard image for the United States to overcome. How could a person who came under attack with those US made tear gas canisters feel postive toward the USA? It would seem to me that it would be very difficult to have positive toward the USA after seeing those canisters.
So, with a number of countries in the Middle East facing such demonstrations, how many governments do you think will be overthrown? Will they become democratic, or turn to another dictator? Will they be like the Philippines – go toward democracy, albeit a democracy riddled with corruption? It’s hard to say right now, but I fear that they will either be ruled by another set of dictators, or they will go the way of the Philippines and face generations of corruption. What do you think?