Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Egypt next? Ask the security forces

On Al Jazeera and the BBC I'm seeing a lot of coverage about Egypt and the protests there. Obviously Masri looks a lot like Tunisia did about two weeks ago.

Even people who thought Tunisia was stable two months ago generally agreed that Egypt was a turbulent basket-case, and it would not surprise me if a a Jazmine Revolution part II(/Muslim Brotherhood Revolution) happened in Egypt.

Many outside observers have been wondering aloud why the Ben Ali regime fell. Some people think it was wikileaks, others think it was because he started shooting his own people on camera. Neither of these things helped his cause, but in my dubious opinion he fell because he didn't worry enough about maintaining good relations with the military. When his loyal police needed help, the army and it's leader General Rachid Ammar, decided for whatever reason to side with the people.

Had the army followed Ben Ali's orders, there might have been a civil war, but Ben Ali would still be in Carthage with his gold and pet tigers.

I know very little about the Egyptian security forces, but I'm sure it's a sprawling network of competing organizations and interests. If the Mubarak regime has been managing it well they will survive. However, if any major sector of the Egyptian security forces feels mistreated or slighted, they could take General Ammar's example, and when the regime desperately needs them, simply decide not to show up.

General Ammar went from being a no-name head of an underfunded military to the most popular man in Tunisia. Any ambitious soldier or policeman would do well to follow his example.

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