[![THIS COULD HAVE BEEN STRAIGHT OUT OF A MOVIE! #jan25 #egypt via Farrah3m @ Twitpic][2]][2] “THIS COULD HAVE BEEN STRAIGHT OUT OF A MOVIE! #jan25 #egypt” via Farrah3m @ Twitpic Two days ago, my father asked me for my thoughts on the protests throughout the Arab world. I wanted to compose my thoughts, to let the situation develop a bit further before I said anything.  Now is the time to say something. This is utterly fascinating to watch.  Al Jazeera is very much killing it with fantastic shots – news hasn’t captivated me in this same way since watching CNN from the Palestine Hotel in Baghdad in 1991.  On Friday I was sitting with my friends and we watched the following sequence unfold in real time: reports of police sending reinforcements into streets, video of police apcs flooding streets, video of protesters stopping one vehicle, video of  police scrambling and fighting their way out of back of vehicle protesters beating the driver, video of protesters trying and failing to tip apc over and “throw” into nile, reprieve, reports of army being called onto streets, video of apc being lit on fire, and for the next three hours they would every once in a while cut back to the same burning apc.  It was magical, riveting, unbelievable tv. I was watching very closely when earlier (before the above sequence) a lone army apc came into the screen (was easy to tell as was painted different color, a fairly standard practice worldwide).  The people went utterly nuts.  And the army seemed to be cheering the protesters back.  It was pretty far away from the cameraman so it was difficult to see exactly, but it was super interesting.  That was before Mubarak called the army onto the streets.  The stoppage for the prayers was the other thing that fascinated me, but back to the army.  The Egyptian army is a conscript army, and it closer to the middle/lower classes than the police are, given that the police are not conscripts and are often hand chosen by the regime. The story aside, what is my chat on this topic?  Three things strike me: (1) the interconnectedness of the pan-Arab movement may be among the causes of the downfall of the creators; (2) [Gladwell][2], you’re wrong; (3) the results of the variety of protests is going to differ, likely in proportion to GDP. [2]: http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2010/10/04/101004fa_fact_gladwell

Pan-Arab Movement

Yes, all of these are connected.  The Tunis protests, and their subsequent victories, beget the Egyptian protests, and as they say: as Egypt goes, so goes the Arab world.  But look at what I pulled just a few minutes off of Twitter: [![][4]][4] []: http://www.caseykuhlman.com/entry/egypt-burning-arab-protests/scr The protests just continue to spread: Sudan, Yemen, Syria, Algeria, Bahrain, Libya. The linkages that have been built, especially in the post-colonial world between the Arab nations, which was originally established as a bulwark against the West (among other reasons) is now making the spread of protest-ism violently, breathtakingly fast. And yes, technology is helping to facilitate the spread.  I have seen[ twitpics of letters][4] from Tunisian protesters to Egyptian protesters with tips on how to fight the man.  Encouragement and organizing are all happening online.  Why else would Egypt completely pull the plug? [4]: http://globalguerrillas.typepad.com/globalguerrillas/2011/01/journal-example-of-open-source-tactical-innovation.html Third, and this is what is going to take longer to figure out.  But the end result of this wave, I suspect is going to distill rough correlative to GDP of the nations.  Tunisia and Egypt will likely see some fundamental changes.  Syria and Bahrain will likely see some changes, but not fundamental ones.  Libya, Sudan, and Yemen will likely have to wait a bit longer for fundamental changes within their countries.  I’m a Collier-ist and I am interested to see if this is going to validate his [theories ][5]that at about $3000 per capita GDP is some sort of a tipping point for democracy.  Thailand reached that and it beget massive protests, the countries listed above are there, China is approaching this threshold.  Yet, we will see.  Only after the fact will we see. [5]: http://www.amazon.com/Wars-Guns-Votes-Democracy-Dangerous/dp/0061479640/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1296375235&sr=1-1-catcorr The last thing I’ll note is that a power vacuum in Egypt is in precisely no one’s interest. ~ # ~