Historical Road Maps for the "New World Order"

by Chris Toensing
published in MER208

Peter Gran, Beyond Eurocentrism: A New View of Modern World History (Syracuse University Press, 1996).

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Egypt Without Mubarak

by Joshua Stacher | published April 7, 2011

Save the worsening snarls of traffic, March 19 was a near perfect day in Egypt’s capital city of Cairo. The sun shone gently down upon orderly, sex-segregated queues of Egyptians who stood for hours to vote “yes” or “no” on emergency amendments to the country’s constitution. Although there have been three other constitutional referenda in the past six years, the plebiscite of 2011 was the first to capture the time and attention of the multitudes. It seemed that no one wanted to miss the historic, hope-filled occasion -- for many of those who patiently waited, March 19 was the first time they had voted at all. Later, official estimates put the turnout at 41 percent, a rate completely unheard of in a country where citizens, many of them given material incentives, had dribbled in to rubber-stamp a predetermined outcome, usually, yet another presidential term for Husni Mubarak. The winding lines in and of themselves set off sparks of national pride. One young woman smiled when asked about the long wait, joking, “Lines are more organized after the revolution.”

What's the Line?

Egypt and the Diplomatic Beat

by Peter Hart
published in MER258

Much of what was written from Egypt on and after January 25, 2011 was captivating and intense -- as one might expect from reporters witnessing a democratic movement overthrowing a dictator. But the Beltway reporting that tried to explain US policy was another matter.

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Troubadours of Revolt

by Ted Swedenburg
published in MER258

Rami ‘Isam, a 23-year old pony-tailed singer for the so-so rock band Mashakil, based in Mansoura, showed up at Tahrir Square on January 28, 2011, guitar in hand and ready to join the pro-democracy revolt. His music soon became an important component of the Tahrir scene, as the insurrectionists set up sound systems to broadcast recordings and a stage for speeches and performances. ‘Isam went on stage and also circulated in the square, strumming for demonstrators taking a break from the struggle.

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The 18 Days of Tahrir

by Ahmad Shokr
published in MER258

On January 26 Tahrir Square was under occupation. Hundreds of riot police bearing shields and batons formed cordons along the perimeter to prevent anyone suspected of being a demonstrator from approaching. Traffic was light, an unusual scene for one of Cairo’s busiest intersections. On the sidewalks, queues of young, scruffily dressed thugs received instructions from police to attack any crowd that dared assemble. The large, boisterous protest that had filled the square the previous night -- January 25 -- had been violently dispersed by security forces, as the interior minister, Habib al-‘Adli, warned that no further demonstrations would be tolerated. His command was enforced harshly.

From the Editors

by The Editors
published in MER258

Revolution is a weighty word, one as freighted with past disappointments as with hopes for the future. In the Arab world, where the first spontaneous popular revolutions of the twenty-first century have begun, cabals of colonels long expropriated the term to glorify their coups d’état. It is an accomplishment of the groundswells in Tunisia and Egypt in early 2011 that no prospective Asad or Qaddafi will get away with stealing the word again. Thanks to Tunisians and Egyptians, everyone has received a crash course in what revolution looks like.

Seeking "Stability"

by Chris Toensing | published March 3, 2011

Stability is the least understood and most derided of the trio of strategic interests pursued by the United States in the Middle East since it became the region’s sole superpower. Vexing, because it is patently obvious code for coziness with kings, presidents-for-life and other unsavory autocrats. Perplexing, because it seems to involve only cost, lacking the material benefit of protecting oil deposits or the domestic political profit of backing Israel, the two other members of the troika.

Behind the Ballot Box

Electoral Engineering in the Arab World

by Marsha Pripstein Posusney
published in MER209

The last decade has seen multi-party competition for elected legislatures initiated or expanded in Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Egypt, Jordan, Yemen, Kuwait, Lebanon and the Palestinian Authority. Executive authority in most cases remains an uncontested, if not completely unelected, post. Nevertheless, incumbent rulers invariably tout these legislative elections as evidence of domestic legitimacy, often anointing their countries as “on the road to democracy” in their wake.