Sometimes protests and movements are healthy, sometimes they aren’t. Salads are supposed to be good for you but then some genius invented the taco salad. All of a sudden, not all salads are good for you. And that is what the fallout in the Middle East and Arabia is beginning to look like; one giant taco salad. While the protests are nicely framed as pro-democracy movements, the results in the end may be the antithesis.
The only stable Jordan is Michael
As Jordan became one of the many areas to fall into a state of rage, King Abdullah tried to be proactive by dismissing his government and joining the protesters’ calls for reform. Abdullah, a moderate compared to previous leaders of Jordan, knows his population well.
The small country has just 7 million people in which over 1 million are Palestinian refugees. When more than 10 percent of your population catches the fever of revolt, they can whoop relatively moderate citizens into a frenzy in no time. Dismissing the government may have been done in vain and the protesters seem to have called Abdullah’s bluff. Today, peaceful protests are still in full swing in Jordan.
The Muslim Brotherhood seems to have a stronger official role in Jordan when compared to the protests in Egypt. In Cairo, the Muslim Brotherhood showed up late in the protests just to be amongst rabble-rousers. In Jordan, they are leading the calls for elections that may put some of their own in power. If the opposition powers gain any official power in Jordan, then Israel will need to wall in their entire country. At that point, they will only need to protect their airspace — something they do very well.
Yemen: Literacy could have made it more Dangerous
Yemen protests have been small, peaceful, and wholly uneventful. Its a sharp contrast when compared to the events in Egypt and Tunisia. Why would this be? After all, they are extremely poor and have the same grievances of the aforementioned regions that turned violent. Yemen is calm because it’s hard to mobilize the illiterate.
Kate Nevans of the London-based think tank Chatham House nailed it in her interview with Bloomberg. Nevans stated accurately “There is a much smaller educated, urban bracket and the literacy level is very low, which may mean that it is harder to have mass-mobilized movements.” The interview could have ended there, but they dive into the structure of the Yemeni government and the shadow party surrounding the president. There is merit to that claim, but the original point stated above runs straight to soul of the movement. The Yemeni government could be toppled if the majority of the population could read. They would see hundreds of sources citing the corruption on the Internet in their country. Egypt would have been a catalyst and Yemen would have followed suit in similar fashion.
Reflections on the Kulturkampf
Everyone is clamoring to take away lessons learned from these outbreaks. The protests are still in swing and so far there has been no real shift in power. To draw conclusions at this point would be premature. Only one theme rings loud and clear: Poverty and oppression will not last forever. Until these areas affected take on a new form or remain within their current structure, we will not know what the effects of these movements are. After this settles down, we will see who remains in power and who is ejected from office. This will happen at the ballot box, or the detested leaders will be put to the sword. Only one thing is clear as of right now: Israel needs to start building a Great Wall…now!