What's the significance of the recent protests in the Arab world?

administrator's picture
Submitted by administrator on Wed, 2011-02-02 09:09
Much ado about nothing.
0% (0 votes)
A cry for freedom. The fall of the Arabic "Berlin Wall".
24% (5 votes)
Man the barricades! The rise of militant Islam.
33% (7 votes)
Power politics with an uncertain outcome.
33% (7 votes)
Other (please specify).
10% (2 votes)
Total votes: 21

"Democracy" in Egypt

darren's picture


(AINA) -- A mob of nearly four thousand Muslims has attacked Coptic homes this evening in the village of Soul, Atfif in Helwan Governorate, 30 kilometers from Cairo, and torched the Church of St. Mina and St. George. There are conflicting reports about the whereabouts of the Church pastor Father Yosha and three deacons who were at church; some say they died in the fire and some say they are being held captive by the Muslims inside the church.

Witnesses report the mob prevented the fire brigade from entering the village. The army, which has been stationed for the last two days in the village of Bromil, 7 kilometers from Soul, initially refused to go into Soul, according to the officer in charge. When the army finally sent three tanks to the village, Muslim elders sent them away, saying that everything was "in order now."

A curfew has been imposed on the 12,000 Christians in the village

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Let us all hail the "new democracy" in Egypt. The first order of business: religious and ethnic cleansing.

Democracy May Be The Greatest Gift to Islamists

Sandi's picture

Farce of democracy?

Marcus's picture

What do you mean?

Are you agreeing with Frediano about revolutions being undemocratic?

That wasn't my point.

Thanks Marcus

gregster's picture

..It's one hell of a place.

And re Gaddafi. I agree to this extent - "the farce of democracy."

Gaddafi & Obama

Marcus's picture

No signs yet of NK unrest

Marcus's picture

No signs yet of NK unrest: Seoul

"Seoul said Thursday it has observed no signs of a popular uprising in North Korea amid reports of unrest in the isolated state.

The assessment by the Ministry of Unification came after a local daily reported that hundreds of protesters had clashed with authorities in the town of Sinuiju, increasing speculation over whether the uprisings rocking the Arab world could reach the North.

“We do not see a high possibility or signals of any kind of change or moves in North Korea at this time,” a Unification Ministry representative said, adding the ministry could not confirm the reported protest.

The Chosun Ilbo quoted North Korean sources as saying that military forces quickly quelled the demonstration, wounding some protesters. Five were rumored to have been killed, the report said.

The incident apparently started when police officers cracking down on market activity beat a trader unconscious. The victim’s family members and supporters then began to protest.

The report said security agents and military forces moved in when the activity appeared to be gaining momentum and remained on high alert after the incident.

The source said that discontent had been growing in the area over the regime’s renewed interference in the markets and reported failure to give out extra rations on leader Kim Jong-il’s birthday, which fell last week.

The impoverished North reportedly began allowing some market activity after previous crackdowns failed.

The conservative daily reported earlier that smaller protests demanding food and electricity had broken out in North Pyeongan Province on Feb. 14, two days before Kim’s birthday.

Some analysts have said major unrest in the North is unlikely, citing the Kim Jong-il regime’s iron-fisted rule of the country that blocks citizen access to most outside sources of information."

I happen to know a fair bit on the topic...

Marcus's picture

...of North Korea and have read several books and follow any news stories going.

I must have missed that one.

However, North Koreans cannot legally find out what's going on in the outside world, apart from the official propaganda.

And I doubt that they would report anything from the Jasmine revolution, and if they did, it would be in the form of: "capitalists starving in the streets".

Many North Koreans are shocked to find out, when exposed to the truth, that all the "official" reports on TV and radio about South Koreans starving and sleeping under bridges are fabricated.

I believe that the USSR employed similar tactics during the cold war to keep their people in line.


gregster's picture

Why do you ask that question of North Korea Marcus?


gregster's picture

Should we look into the others?

Oh I see...

Marcus's picture

...greg, thanks.

Not North Korea proper, so to say.

It's all related

gregster's picture

I googled this:

SEOUL, Feb. 24 (UPI) -- The North Korean regime is on alert after dozens of people staged nighttime protests in Pyongan province demanding electricity and food, a Seoul newspaper said.

The Feb. 14 protests were followed by another Feb. 18 in the city of Sinuiju when hundreds clashed with police to protest a crackdown on open-air markets, The Chosun Ilbo reported.

Sinuiju is considered North Korea's main gateway to the outside world.

"People can watch Chinese TV in Sinuiju and defectors can communicate with their family there," a source in North Korea told the newspaper. "Most people in Sinuiju probably know about the protests in the Middle East."

Some experts say they believe North Korean authorities began cracking down on open-air markets to prevent news about the Jasmine Revolutions from spreading across North Korea through market gossip.

Authorities are reportedly conducting body searches of people going from Sinuiju to the Chinese border town of Dandong and back, checking for USB memory devices or DVDs with information about the Jasmine Revolutions, protests in North Korea or information about living conditions in the North.

"There's still a lot of public unrest," the source in Sinuiju said.

South Korean Unification Minister Hyun In-taek said the North Korean regime "is probably trying to keep the Middle Eastern protests from affecting it."

"Internet access is strictly controlled in North Korea, and there is no North Korean media coverage, so I believe ordinary citizens are unaware" of the Jasmine Revolutions, he said.

Unrest in North Korea?

Marcus's picture

Can you give a link for that?

How could any unrest in NK be related to Tunisia anyway?

Most people in NK have no knowledge of what goes on in the outside world apart from what the Govt tells them.

The Daily Reckoning Week in Review – Melbourne, Australia

gregster's picture

Saturday, 26th February 2011

Since a Tunisian fruit seller lit himself on fire in protest on the 17th of December 2010, the world has gone bananas (not that it wasn't before):

Unrest in Tunisia
Unrest in Bahrain
Unrest in Libya (including a possible outbreak of civil war)
Unrest in Yemen
Unrest in Algeria
Unrest in Morocco
Unrest in Iran
Unrest in Jordan
Unrest in India
Unrest in Greece
Unrest in North Korea
Iran's warships on the move
Oil to $100 and beyond
Record prices in commodities
German resistance to bailing out the PIIGS
Italian bond default risk jumps, other PIIGS at risk
Flooding in Australia
Earthquake in Christchurch
South Korean bank runs
Massive government employee layoffs in various US states (and more to come)
Record budget deficits in the US and a budget standoff
Unrest in Wisconsin
US house prices resume falling
US treasury yields rising
US dollar falling
List of US banks at risk of failing at 18-year highs
Even the IMF acknowledging inflation in emerging markets caused by quantitative easing in the US

Yes, it's been a busy few weeks.

While these events transpired, the S&P500 rose about 5% and the ASX200 rose by about 2%. And that's all that matters to Chairman Bernanke. He is willing to see the Middle East go up in flames in the name of the wealth effect. So he continues his inflationary ways, conveniently ignoring the effects this has outside the stock market. (Perhaps he will win the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts.)

But the last few days have seen a reversal of fortunes.

The Arabs have replied to Bernanke's inflation of food prices with a price hike of their own - in oil. And that's where it really hurts Americans. Not just in the stock market, either. Much has been said about the American lifestyle's dependence on oil. Cheap oil.

Of course, Dan Denning has been on top of how unrest in the Middle East and north Africa will impact the world. And he's found some interesting ways to profit from the energy market's instability.

But back to Chairman Bernanke's unintended consequences. The irony of inflation causing a spike in oil prices, which has a deflationary shock, is obvious. Less obvious is just who will win. Inflation or deflation? Daily Reckoning editor Bill Bonner predicts both. One after the other.

It's just a question of how bad the deflation will get before Chairman Bernanke comes to the rescue with fresh money - denominated in billions. That state of affairs is a pain in the neck for investors who want to make money in coming months. It means market timing will be the key to successful trades. And when we say market, we mean the announcement of QE3. At that point, the inflation trade can resume until the next external shock hits.

Eventually, the game will come to a climax. History teaches us that banking crises tend to lead to exchange-rate crises, which lead to sovereign defaults. As the US dollar is the world's reserve currency, the process may be drawn out, but the effects will be worse.

And there won't be enough money for bailouts. The chips will have to fall as the free market determines. Unlike last time.

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, bailout agent extraordinaire of the IMF, has reaffirmed his ideological leanings:

"Strauss-Kahn reached his two goals during this visit [to France]," said Gerard Grunberg, a professor at the Political Sciences Institute in Paris. "Make sure nobody doubts any more that he will be a candidate for the French presidential race in 2012 while never saying it. And make crystal clear that he is a man of the left, a real socialist."

Does having a real socialist in charge of one of the world's most important institutions sound like a good idea to you? But there are more of them. In the US you had George "affordable housing" Bush, who was free market in rhetoric and campaign donations only. Now you have universal healthcare advocate Obama, who wants to "spread the wealth around". And the Chairman himself, Ben Bernanke at the Federal Reserve.

But it's not just governments that are into meddling in private affairs. The investment bankers enjoy it too. Aside from being the leading campaign donators for politicians, the investment banks often place their men into government roles. Obama's Chief of Staff is from JP Morgan (with a fresh 9 million dollar pay day behind him). Bush's Treasury Secretary was from Goldman Sachs. And the list goes on.

None of these antagonists are remotely free market. And they are all going to discover the same thing: Socialism is too expensive to work. And the money is now gone. From this point on, spending will incur higher and higher interest rates, until the whole thing collapses.

But the Germans are breaking the mould. Sick of bailing out their neighbours once or twice removed, the Germans voted against the ruling party in the wealthy city-state Hamburg. That drove them into the hands of the socialist party. How ironic. Although it is concerning that the socialist party is campaigning on a nationalistic platform of letting Europe deal with its financial mess.

Nationalism, socialism and financial stress - sound familiar?

The always intriguing Ambrose Evans-Pritchard puts it this way: Does Angela Merkel want "fusion of fission" inside the EU? "Her own Bundesbank argued years ago that EMU is unworkable without fiscal union, and it has been vindicated by the events of the past two years."

But it's not just the EU sovereigns who are in trouble. The hilarious twist in all this is that, while EU member countries are no longer able to monetise debt, apparently their banks are doing it themselves!

The Irish Times reports:
Irish Banks are issuing bonds to themselves under the Government guarantee to borrow cheaply from the European Central Bank and to avoid drawing more heavily on emergency lending from the Irish Central Bank.

Four banks issued bonds worth €17 billion to themselves last month under the Government's extended guarantee, the Eligible Liabilities Guarantee, to use as collateral to borrow from the ECB.

"What you have here is micro-quantitative easing, or money printing," said Cathal O'Leary, head of fixed-income sales at NCB Stockbrokers. "The banks are issuing unsecured loans to themselves."
And sure enough, collateral popped up at the ECB in exchange for emergency funding. Repeatedly, such borrowing has been at remarkable highs. But the ECB Executive Board member Juergen Stark is diverting attention to inflation, just as it seems deflation might re-emerge:

"Stark Says ECB Will Raise Interest Rates If Needed to Contain Inflation." Yes, the ECB remains hawkish, while banks raid its emergency war chest with money created from thin air.

Nick Hubble
For Daily Reckoning Australia

I mean, like a Revolution every 2 years...

Marcus's picture

Those countries haven't had revolutions every two years.

Not just like.

Frediano's picture


Oh, you mean like the American Revolution?


I mean, like a Revolution every 2 years, instead of elections. Revolution as the new 'norm' for 'democracy.'

Democracy by decibel.

The American Revolution was a brutish kicking out of the british. It was megapolitics, not politics. The politics of force.

It may just be me, but I think that replacing politics with megapolitcs as the new political norm would be a step backwards for civilization; endless revolution. Chaos.

No matter how bored we've become with politics, the reality of megapolitcs as a constant diet-- as the new political norm-- would soon grow thin on us all.

TUNIS, Tunisia -- Tunisia's

Richard Wiig's picture

TUNIS, Tunisia -- Tunisia's transitional government approved a general amnesty of the country's political prisoners Friday, the prime minister said, in a move likely to free those convicted under tough anti-terrorism laws.


"It seems like a step backwards for civilization."

Marcus's picture

Oh, you mean like the American Revolution?

Kind of my point.

Frediano's picture

If the silent majority were against this, then they had to fight against it in the streets.

If they weren't willing to do that, then they just forfeited their chance of changing the outcome.

Is that the new model of democracy, then? It's no longer necessary in the least to actually have elections, because we have this new, apparently reliable model based on ... noise volume?

It seems like a step backwards for civilization.

@ Stratfor.com (analysis by George Friedman)

darren's picture

What happened was not a revolution. The demonstrators never brought down Mubarak, let alone the regime. What happened was a military coup that used the cover of protests to force Mubarak out of office in order to preserve the regime. When it became clear Feb. 10 that Mubarak would not voluntarily step down, the military staged what amounted to a coup to force his resignation. Once he was forced out of office, the military took over the existing regime by creating a military council and taking control of critical ministries. The regime was always centered on the military. What happened on Feb. 11 was that the military took direct control.

Read more: http://www.stratfor.com/weekly...


Marcus's picture

...there was a counter-demonstration that was pro-Mubarek.

I don't know what happened to them, either they fizzled out or the media started ignoring them.

However, whatever happened they can't have been enough to disrupt the other protest.

If the silent majority were against this, then they had to fight against it in the streets.

If they weren't willing to do that, then they just forfeited their chance of changing the outcome.

Democracy by noise

Frediano's picture

In balance, this appears to be another move towards democracy, away from where Egypt was. But, the following gives me pause.

60,000 people demonstrated in that square, out of a nation of 80 million people, and our POTUS called for Mubarek to leave. I think he used that odd word, 'must.'

We and an entire industry full of talking heads are absolutely certain that those 60,000 are representative of the 'voice of the people,' and are sufficiently convinced of that, such that we don't regard it as necessary to actually poll the people of Egypt via an election, or referendum, or in other words ... actual democracy.

OK. So, when 100,000 people fill the Mall in Washington, protesting the Obama Administration, did anyone conclude that 'Obama must leave?' Or instead, did we have ... an already scheduled election?

Why have elections, if it is possible to assess 60,000 protesters out of a nation of 80 million and assure ourselves that they represent the 'voice of the People?'

Do we actually need elections, if this is how political change 'should' be done?

After all, it was peaceful.

Mubarek was not Saddam. Egypt is not Iraq.

But, 60,000 noisy people do not automatically speak for 80,000,000 people, even with the expert opinions of media talking heads and folks such as our very own DNI, Mr. James Clapper.

Mubarek stepped in it when he floated the idea of inserting his son onto his 'throne.' But he didn't cling to power until his fingers bled. The people of Egypt were right to demand a move towards real democracy and I hope they get that chance. If that is what happens, then in the end, concerns over this being a new model of 'democracy' -- one based purely on noise and agitation, granting carte blanche to any noisy minority willing to make some noise -- will be unfounded.

But you can already see the fringe in other countries encouraged to believe that a new, magic shortcut from the fringe has been discovered.

Aljazeera reports

Sandi's picture

Mubarak's personal wealth is estimated at $70bn.

The United Nations World Food Programe has fed over 50 million Egyptians, roughly 70 percent of the population.

Tony Blair says "Mubarak is immensely courageous and a force for good"


The "cry for freedom" argument...

Marcus's picture

...number 7 on last week's viral charts.

Regan on (Egypt)

Sandi's picture

He is referencing the Soviet Union, but in all sense of his words of morality and wisdom, Regan could be speaking of Egypt.
Especially in light of the 1.5 billion dollars of money extorted from Americans and dished out annually to Egypt by the American government.

If there's to be any

Richard Wiig's picture

If there's to be any surprise, Greg, it will be that the majority turn out to be intellectually primed for freedom over Islam. I'm not sure where to vote on this poll. I think it's somewhere between the rise of Islamists and power politics with an uncertain outcome.

Reserve Bank

gregster's picture

America and its policies of printing money and exporting inflation has been the main driver of the price rises in commodities. The Egyptians are the first of many food wars. No surprise here.

A Good Speech

Richard Wiig's picture

@ gregster

darren's picture

what could be the cause of the first and only near-perfectly sensible post of Dazzler?

I've been making sense all along; it's just that you've finally taken your head out of your arse and come up for air; so, temporarily, the world probably seems a little more in focus. Enjoy it while you can.

Thanks Richard

gregster's picture

I've saved it for a full read. Bloodthirsty stuff.

"It was in this atmosphere that ash-shaheed Sayyid Qutb bravely raised his voice – indeed his pen – against these false ideologies and in one clean sweep denounced them as the modern-day Jahiliyyahh (the primitive savagery of pre-Islamic days). He knew that it was inevitable the forces of Jahilliyah would seek to silence him and yet he, unlike others, courageously stood firm and was ready to sacrifice everything in the pursuit of seeking Allah’s pleasure. [..]

Many insights of ash-shaheed Sayyid Qutb have stood the test of time. His assertion that a virulent crusading spirit remains at the core of Western culture, despite a relative decline in active adherence to Christianity, has been tragically vindicated by the genocidal assaults on the Muslims of Bosnia, Chechnya, Palestine, Afghanistan and Iraq, and the false imprisonment of tens of thousands of Muslim activists around the world re-enforce ash-shaheed Sayyid Qutb’s analysis of the Western world and their hatred of the Muslim World.

A post I came across at

Richard Wiig's picture

A post I came across at Jihadwatch that links straight to the horses mouth.

It has probably been referenced before on JW, but for those who have not seen it, a veritable manual for the theoretical underpinnings of the Muslim Brotherhood is available at:


Not only does this single file include the full version of Qutb's 'Milestones', but also two important long pieces by Hasan al-Banna, including 'Kitab ul Jihad', and a small book by a favorite of the dangerous and influential Yemeni, al-Awlaki, namely one Ibn Nuhaas. And more.

Never let it be said we were not told.

I wonder

gregster's picture

what could be the cause of the first and only near-perfectly sensible post of Dazzler? A common cause of an Israel with intelligent design proponents such as he? Puzzling.

Some in the media claim that

darren's picture

Some in the media claim that the "Muslim Brotherhood" is benign because it is four-square behind democracy.

Sounds like something the PR wing of the Muslim Brotherhood would like the west to believe. They are quite simply a terrorist organization that has been around since the 1920s; one of their spin-offs is Hamas.

My own take on things is the following:

If a very secularized country like Iraq could not be made into a western-style democracy even by dint of U.S. military might, then I don't see how Arab Muslims in less secular nations, such as Egypt, would suddenly get the itch to be free -- in our sense of that word. This entire uprising appears just a little too coincidental and "stage managed" for me to believe that it represents mass yearning for democracy.

In the Age of Obama, it's always a safe bet to adopt a contrarian strategy: if Obama is against it, I'm for it; if he's for it, I'm against it.

A year ago, when there was indeed a mass uprising in Iran demanding the ouster of Achmadinejad, did Obama openly lend his support to the demonstrators and make public statements urging Iran's leader to step down? No. He said nothing, despite the fact that Iran is not an ally of ours and is hostile to our values.

Today, when it appears that there is a mass uprising in Egypt demanding the ouster of Mubarak, Obama does the opposite of what he did in Iran: he now supports the demonstrators openly and has publicly urged Mubarak to step down, despite the fact that Egypt is an ally and one of the two Arab nations that has a peace treaty with Israel; and he does this knowing full well that this will create a power vacuum that would be filled by radical jihadist elements of the Muslim Brotherhood. He also knows that this would create a perfect excuse to apply more pressure on Israel not only to cease building settlements, or cease building apartment buildings in its own capital, but to adopt suicidal policies such as the "right of return" for Palestinian Arabs.

There's been plenty of

Richard Wiig's picture

There's been plenty of pursuance of the militant option, Marcus. The most recent in Egypt has been the bombing of Coptic churches and the ongoing terror threats against the Copts, which are actually worldwide, not just confined to Egypt. The terror tactics are just a softening up. The strength of the Muslim Brotherhood's position is an unknown to me. I don't think they are weak, but whether or not they're in a strong enough position to take power in Egypt I do not know. It seems there's a lot of Mubarak supporters coming out now fighting back against those who want him gone. Who's going to come out on top I really don't have a clue, but I guess we're going to find out soon enough.

So why...

Marcus's picture

...hasn't anyone chosen the "militant Islam" option?

Do you think the Muslim Brotherhood is weak, or just that they won't be successful in these countries?

Brotherly Love

Jameson's picture


Richard Wiig's picture

The Muslim Brotherhood was started by Hussan Al Bana in 1926, or there abouts, in response to the breakup of the Ottoman Empire, which mean't the end of the Caliphate. Their aim was to bring back the Caliphate, and achieve global Islamic rule. Al Qaeda and other modern day Jihadists groups arose from the Brotherhood. The Brotherhood publicly renounces the use of violence to achieve their goals, but behind closed doors they support the likes of Al Qaeda. They are stealth jihadists, and they are behind Muslims organisation in the US, and West, such as CAIR, the Muslim Student Association, and a host of other groups. Democracy is of use to them only so long as they can gain and advantage from it. What they're doing is playing the game, and those commentators who hold democracy on high are idiots.

"The Muslim Brotherhood...

Jameson's picture

"... interprets Islam conservatively. Its founder called for "a campaign against ostentation in dress and loose behavior," "segregation of male and female students," a separate curriculum for girls, and "the prohibition of dancing and other such pastimes..."

There have been...

Marcus's picture

...protests in Algeria, Egypt, Yemen, and Jordan since the so-called "Jasmine Revolution" in Tunisia.

Jordan's King has replaced his PM.

Yemen's president will step down.

Some in the media claim that the "Muslim Brotherhood" is benign because it is four-square behind democracy.

I don't know anything about them.

However I chose the power politics option. Nobody knows yet where this will lead.

I bet historians will conclude that this "revolution" in Egypt was born of the world-wide recession, as all civil unrest is.

Too early to tell ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

... but the Muslim Brotherhood's attempt to hijack the movement is alarming.

My hunch is that it's a boiling over of frustration on the part of people pissed off with grinding poverty, impotence, and Mubarak's arrogant, corrupt police force. I doubt that this "boiling over" is philosophically coherent, informed, or even necessarily benign. I note that a common theme among the protesters is Mubarak's perceived sycophancy toward Israel. That doesn't bode well.

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