Monday, January 31, 2011

Poverty as a cause of the Middle East protests

All of the countries in the Middle East and North Africa engulfed with protests have many things in common. The protests were all started because the people have no jobs and no money. They see an elite ruling class grabbing all of the wealth for themselves. This leads the people to the streets, and any success seen in other countries helps their resolve.

From this Associated Press article that we found at MSNBC, writer Brian Murphy offers this analysis on why being poor is a major cause of the protests.

Just days before fleeing Tunisia, the embattled leader went on national television to promise 300,000 new jobs over two years.

Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak did much the same Saturday as riots gripped Cairo and other cities: offering more economic opportunities in a country where half the people live on less than $2 a day.

The pledges-under-siege have something else in common: an acknowledgment that the unprecedented anger on Arab streets is at its core a long-brewing rage against decades of economic imbalances that have rewarded the political elite and left many others on the margins.

With startling speed — less than two months since the first protests in Tunisia — underscored the wobbly condition of the systems used by some Arab regimes to hold power since the 1980s or earlier. The once formidable mix of economic cronyism and hard-line policing — which authorities sometime claim was needed to fight Islamic hard-liners or possible Israeli spies — now appears under serious strain from societies pushing back against the old matrix.

Mubarak and other Arab leaders have only to look to Cairo's streets: a population of 18 million with about half under 30 years old and no longer content to have a modest civil servant job as their top aspiration.

One protester in Cairo waved a hand-drawn copy of his university diploma amid clouds of tear gas and shouted what may best sum up the complexities of the domino-style unrest in a single word: Jobs.

"They are taking us lightly and they don't feel our frustration," said another protester, homemaker Sadat Abdel Salam. "This is an uprising of the people and we will not shut up again."

The narrative of economic injustice has surrounded the protests from the beginning.

"The regimes and the leaders are the ones under fire, but it's really about despair over the future," said Sami Alfaraj, director of the Kuwait Center for Strategic Studies. "The faces of this include the young man with a university degree who cannot find work or the mother who has trouble feeding her family."

Tunisia's mutiny that ousted President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was touched off by a struggling 26-year-old university graduate who lit himself on fire after police confiscated his fruit and vegetable cart in December. Apparent copycat self-immolations quickly spread to Egypt, Yemen and elsewhere.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

goog job!