The Tunisian uprising and subsequent protests in Egypt have sparked discussion about the potential for democracy in the Arab world. Having managed to overthrow their repressive leader, the Tunisian people look poised to embrace Western-style government. Though some find the Arab wave of democracy long overdue, experts warn that achieving real representative government may prove extremely difficult. As unrest begins to boil elsewhere in the region, observers ask–is the Middle East ready for a democratic revolution?
Police have been virtually absent from the streets since Saturday, after a brutal crackdown a day earlier when thousands of riot and plainclothes police clashed violently with protesters.On Sunday, low-flying fighter jets overhead did nothing to deter thousands of Egyptians from continuing their protests into the night.
The arrival of Nobel laureate Mohamed ElBaradei in Tahrir Square fueled their fervor. Throngs cheered as the leading opposition figure entered.ElBaradei, a former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, is one of several opposition figures whose name surfaces when protesters talk about possible future leaders of Egypt. Among other names is Amr Moussa, head of the Arab League.
But Mubarak has given no indications of giving up his 30-year rule. On Sunday, he urged the leaders of his new Cabinet to undertake “dialogue with all the (political) parties,” according to a transcript of his remarks read on state-run Nile TV.
Nile TV reported that roughly 1,000 inmates escaped from Prison Demu in Fayoum, southwest of Cairo. Inmates also broke out of Abu Zaabal prison in Cairo and the Ataa prison in Al Badrashin, a town in Giza, Nile TV said.
The protests in Egypt come weeks after similar disturbances sparked a revolution in Tunisia, forcing then-President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali to flee the country.
Both Egypt and Tunisia have seen dramatic rises in the cost of living in recent years and accusations of corruption among the ruling elite. Tunisia-inspired demonstrations have also taken place in Algeria, Yemen and Jordan.
The aging Mubarak has ruled Egypt with an iron fist for three decades, and it was widely believed he was grooming his son, Gamal, as his successor — a plan now complicated by demands for democracy.
(Source: The Atlantic Wire)