Thursday, 20 January 2011
Could Egypt follow in Tunisia's footsteps?
There are, however, many differences, as much in degree as in substance. There is high level corruption in Egypt, but not to the extent of the mafia state that was Tunisia. A number of wealthy tycoons in Egypt, some in government, have made vast fortunes. But nothing compares to the stranglehold that Ben Ali and his wife's extended family had on most commercial activity. Nor does Egypt have the obsessive paranoia of Ben Ali in terms of information. The liberalisation of the media in Egypt does provide an important safety valve. Furthermore, while there are many poor, the provision of rationed goods means that no one starves.
For many in the Arab world, fear of fitna, of strife or chaos is too great for them to rebel against the state authority. This quietist attitude, helped by often repressive State security, has ensured the endurance of some very unpopular regimes.
What will Egypt do? One reaction would be to become more repressive of dissent. The alternative is to seek to defuse discontent by offering more political concessions. Or it could carry on as before, mindful of what has happened, making minor adjustments to deal with flare-ups.
For more news and expert analysis about Egypt, please see Egypt Politics & Security.
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