I’m guessing many of you have come across this today elsewhere. If you haven’t, please sign and share:
The world watches as the Arab Spring takes another turn in Egypt, and we wonder what the future holds. For many cynical observers all such news bolsters simplistic views of “things always being that way over there“. But the real world is neither simplistic nor is anyplace truly as distant or disconnected from the rest of us as terms like “over there” imply. The reliability of power and water systems in Shreveport and Manchester is tightly coupled to job opportunities in Cairo and Sana’a.
As has been noted here and in articles in the media the ICS ISAC has taken a hand in supporting the future of the people of Yemen by supporting the creation of a national cybersecurity center, YCERT. In an article originally published on TechTarget in March of 2013 the impact on global, US and local interests of fostering cyber stability in this troubled nation were spelled out (“Opinion: Yemeni CERT could turn the tide for Millennials“):
The youth of Yemen are reaching for a cyber future. To get there, 13 million Yemenis under the age of 18 (fully one half of the population) need an Internet infrastructure that provides stability and access to the world. For that infrastructure to exist, the country needs the same basic components that make any nation’s information systems stable and secure. Yemen needs a national cybersecurity center, a Yemen CERT.
In 2011, the students of Sana’a University in Yemen’s capital city rose up along with Arab Spring movements across the Middle East and ousted their dictator, Ali Abdullah Saleh. Prior to that date, Internet penetration in the country stood at less than 1.8%, and what infrastructure existed was unreliable and insecure. Today, the use of smartphones to access the Internet, particularly among the young, is skyrocketing, while the nascent private sector strains to keep up with demand.
(Crossposted from the ICS ISAC Blog)
Last night I spent some time skyping with the Egyptian Moose delegation. The current situation post-Mubarak remains in flux, concerns about abuse of power by the Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF) are rising while the country seeks a democratic solution to governance.
Libya similarly is beginning a path that – at least in theory – would see democracy take hold in the country.
While there is understandable concern among all who care about the region – most importantly those who live in it – I remain optimistic that the series of fits-and-starts that should be expected will lead eventually to a positive outcome.
What do you think, Mooses?
It’s a fair point. As the sound of anti-craft fire combined with the distant crumps of explosions disturb the Libyan night, it’s a fair point: are we celebrating death? Are we cheering on exactly the same kind of indiscriminate slaughter which was unleashed in Vietnam and Cambodia, and more recently in Iraq? Democracy, founded on debate and dissent, should never try to silence those questions. It should ask them. Ask them of ourselves, and those in Government, or the Armed Forces, who seek to represent and defend us.
But for once, this isn’t about us. The uprisings in the Maghreb and Mashriq, the revolutions in the Arab World from Morocco to Yemen, Tunisia to Syria, have not been led by us. It’s a spring awakening, as important as 1968 or 1848.
Driving home today I heard Elliot Abrams on NPR in an interview. He opened with this:
Mr. ELLIOTT ABRAMS (Senior Fellow, Middle Eastern Studies, Council on Foreign Relations): What the president began to say after 9/11 was that there was no special exception for the Arab world, that we had supported stability in the Middle East at the cost of liberty. And that we weren’t going to get stability either. And, of course, this is at a time when most of these regimes look completely stable. So the point I was making is he had it right in saying that these were not as stable as they appeared to be.
Elliot Abrams is right.
His comments are exactly correct. That was the one thread of Bush’s blunderfooted post-9/11 direction that I always agreed with while I rapidly became dissatisfied with his method. That one part of his legacy is quickly being proven as a real inflection in western policy. It isn’t OK to support tyranny ever, no matter what benefits it has for you.
It was true in Taiwan sixty three years ago this Monday. We should do what we can so that in sixty three years there are only stone markers to the follies of the past.
Mythology records the constraints on power of mortal kings:
…[King Cnut of Denmark, England and Norway] set his throne by the sea shore and commanded the tide to halt and not wet his feet and robes; but the tide failed to stop. According to Henry [of Huntingdon], Cnut leapt backwards and said “Let all men know how empty and worthless is the power of kings, for there is none worthy of the name, but He whom heaven, earth, and sea obey by eternal laws.” He then hung his gold crown on a crucifix, and never wore it again.
Cnut the Great Wikipedia
In the wake of the revolution in Tunisia and the amazing scenes in Egypt in recent weeks the tide of popular sentiment against autocratic rule has risen to unprecedented levels among the persistent regimes of Africa and the Middle East and threatens to expose the illegitimacy of their rule if not inundate them altogether.
That these movements are concentrated in, though not limited to, the Islamic world seems no coincidence and their scope transcends the geopolitical or religious alignment and ethnicity of their respective ruling classes. This is not strictly speaking a democracy movement in the narrowly understood Western sense though it is clearly a movement of social justice as framed within the context of the culture of the respective states.
The Egyptian Parliament is dissolved. The Constitution – violated in spirit for thirty years – is void. The Egyptian Army announced today the formation of a counsel to draft a new Constitution and stated that it will remain in charge for six months or until elections happen – whichever comes first.
“If the Egyptian people can create a democracy in the heart of the Arab world, it will be a more significant contribution to civilization than the great pyramids,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.)
Egypt is providing a window to many Americans into an Middle Eastern world they never knew existed. Many can be forgiven, perhaps, for understanding so poorly what resides in the hearts of people in the Middle East, when the blaring brass horns of ostentatious oil barons and violent extremists so nearly drowned out the stifled murmurs of millions. Many truly believed that “this is the way they are over there”, many others wrote into the story their own fears.
Like believing an abusive father who declares, “I know these kids, they need a strong hand”, we took for granted the notion that ‘over there’ people only understood force.
But, just like here, the wild-eyed extremists and bloated pompous wealthy are rare. We never heard the rest, because they were never free to speak.
We hear them now.
The most stable regime in the Arab world topples under mass peaceable protests, and people like this
Vox populi: Vox Dei
The Voice of Freedom has spoken across Egypt today
Last night in Cairo hundreds of thousands of people of all walks of life stood in Tahrir Square waiting for their ‘President’ of thirty years to announce his resignation.
Instead, the crowd was presented with the face of a crooked old man lost inside the stained-glass windows of the billionaire palace lifestyle his people have paid for.
It is past dawn in Egypt today, and the forces aligned against each other will play out one way or another.
Consider this an Open Thread
In Cairo and across Egypt things are settling into a Next Phase it would seem. Enough time has passed that people on all sides – including musicians – have been able to think and produce and prepare for…?
What’s your take, Mooses? Is it The Calm, and if so, what is it Before?
Update Al Jazeera Liveblog is a great source for tracking the general trend.
Good summary in this video coverage:
Consider this an Open Thread.