News Release

The Mideast * “A New Era” * From Cairo

SEIF DA’NA
Seif Da’Na is an associate professor of sociology and international studies at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside specializing in Mideast and North Africa. He said today: “Repercussions of the Tunisia example will be deep and significant and will be felt throughout the region. The uprising signifies not only the failure of the neo-liberal economic model that Arab regimes pursued, but also the futility of political oppression to enforce this model in the long run. The event signifies the beginning of a new era that must be seen as a process of change and might lead to the creation of a new region. The demands by people on the street we are seeing in Tunisia, Algeria, Egypt, Jordan and elsewhere are broad. They are political, economic, and social demands signifying the dead-end of a system that employed excessive political oppression to enforce destructive neo-liberal economic policies. Privatizing the public sector essentially reversed the post independence economic achievements of these countries, increased inequality, and created intolerable living conditions for a significant part of the population.

“This is not to say that these protest movements are necessarily going to change the region immediately. This is a process that might take time. But I think it is irreversible despite the massive security apparatuses (equivalent to 1.3 percent of the total population in Tunisia). In Egypt, which has been under a ‘state of emergency’ for 30 years, it is estimated that over 300,000 people are in the State Security [one of several organizations] alone, and more people are employed in the state security and police than the military. One of the telling and revealing events in Tunisia is when the army refused to turn its guns on the protesters. As we learned from the recent WikiLeaks documents one of the things that upset U.S. officials is that the Egyptian army strategy is still somewhat geared toward an external threat — presumably Israel — that the army hasn’t in effect become totally part of the internal state security apparatus.” (A December 2008 cable from U.S. Ambassador Margaret Scobey to Gen. David Patraeus. That message was echoed in a February 2010 cable.)

In Cairo [7 hours ahead of U.S. ET, phone lines are intermittent]:

EMAD MEKAY
Based in Cairo, Mekay reports for Inter Press Service and other outlets. He has also been tracking major protests in Mahala today.

JACK SHENKER
Shenker is a London-born journalist who reports for the Guardian from Egypt

ALEX ORTIZ
While many internet services, including Twitter, are reportedly blocked in Egypt, Ortiz has managed to be streaming live protests: ustream.tv/channel/cairodowntown [update, ustream has been block by Egyptian government, now at: livestream.com/cairowitness; futher update — live video from Cairo now at: justin.tv/cairowitness] Ortiz studies at American University in Cairo; he graduated from Brown University in Arabic literary translation and Middle Eastern studies in 2009. He said today: “It seems that after more than six hours of confrontation with the police the demonstrators’ energy has yet to flag. The main square — Midan Tahrir — is full of demonstrators, and the police have cordoned off the side streets that lead to the parliament building and the Interior Ministry. Behind police lines are plainsclothed policemen/thugs who are assembled in lines. The protestors are chanting: ‘Down, Down, Hosni Mubarak;’ ‘Down, Down, Central Security;’ ‘The people want to reform the system’ — among other slogans. Still no sign that the demonstration will end anytime soon.”

See more videos at:
Demonstration
Water cannon

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167