The overnight news from Egypt is that, despite President Hosni Mubarak’s concession to the
rioters revolutionaries that he would step down, the unrest and violence are worsening. It appears pro-Mubarak people have been unleashed against the revolt and they are targeting western media. CNN’s Anderson Cooper was punched in the head yesterday and ABC’s Christiane Amanpour was surrounded by an angry mob who screamed “We hate Americans!”
The Egyptian unrest itself was inspired by what happened a week earlier in Tunisia where huge mobs, enraged by their political leaders’ corrupt lavish lifestyle, succeeded in overthrowing the regime.
Both Egypt and Tunisia share the same trigger factors of social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.), rising food prices, and high unemployment, especially among the college educated. In political science literature, the latter is a classic feature of Third World revolutions.
Wall Street Cheatsheet has identified 11 countries that have the same trigger factors as Egypt and may be the next dominoes to fall.
H/t beloved Fellowship co-founder Steve.
From “Your Cheat Sheet to the 11 Countries Which Could Follow Egypt’s Lead,” by Business Insider, Wall Street Cheatsheet, Feb 1, 2011:
- Style of government: Constitutional Monarchy
- Inflation: 2.6% year-over-year in December
- Unemployment: Among graduates, 25%, Total rate at 9.1%
- Social media: Very much a serious part of youth culture
- Conclusion: Morocco’s government has already undergone democratic reforms, so any political pressure would likely be responded to in a similar manner, with more reforms. Those very reforms have been suggested by a government commission, so Morocco seems pretty safe at the moment, prepared to adjust if things get out of hand.
- Style of government: Constitutional monarchy, incorporating limited democracy
- Inflation: Jordanian inflation up 6.1% year-over-year in December, 1.2% month-over-month
- Unemployment: Around 14%
- Social media: 38-39% of Jordanians have internet access
- Conclusion: Jordan is already experiencing protests related to these factors. The government is responding by providing food and fuel subsidies. King Abdullah just sacked his government and appointed a new one with reforms priority number one. Whether the government moves fast enough to implement these reforms will be the deciding factor in the future size of protests and threat to the regime.
- Style of government: Single party authoritarian, President Bashar al-Assad
- Inflation: Government intends to take action to lower prices
- Unemployment: 8.1% in 2009
- Social media: Facebook still openly used by the public, searches for Egypt on computers, however, crash them.
- Conclusion: The economic situation is not as dire in Syria as in other countries. The regime is, arguably, more ruthless than its Egyptian counterpart. The President believes his partnership with Iran and support for the Palestinian cause will keep him safe, and he’s already pushing for reforms. Syria’s state may be too powerful for the little protest movement developing to flourish.
4. SAUDI ARABIA:
- Style of government: Absolute Monarchy
- Inflation: Inflation at 5.4% in December, down from November
- Unemployment: 10% in 2010
- Social media: 3 million Saudi Arabians are on Facebook, with Twitter usage increasing quickly
- Conclusion: Saudi Arabia has seen some small protests, but over the government response to flooding, not rising costs and unemployment. There are concerns on the streets that the country doesn’t have proper infrastructure and is recklessly spending its oil riches. The repressive regime is unlikely to fall under these smaller concerns, but its youth unemployment problem (42%) and religious minority (Shia) could eventually exert real pressure.
- Style of government: Islamic Republic, with democratically elected representatives. Less than certain how “democratic” elections truly are. Ruled by Supreme Leader, who is a both religious and political leader.
- Inflation: Inflation at 13.5% in early 2010, may be more than double that level
- Unemployment: 14.6% as of August
- Social media: Significant penetration of both Twitter and Facebook. Government showed willingness to crackdown on use during previous protest movement.
- Conclusion: Iran crushed its most recent protest movement. If inflation continues to rise, the sentiment may become more popular, and Egypt’s revolution could inspire Iranians back to the streets.
- Style of government: Authoritarian, led by Muammar al-Gaddafi
- Inflation: CPI up 2.654% in 2009
- Unemployment: Highest unemployment rate in North Africa
- Social media: The Muslim Brotherhood has a Facebook page. Unknown levels of internet penetration.
- Conclusion: Libya would seem a good bet. It’s stuck between revolutionary Tunisia and Egypt. Its leader is regarded as an international eccentric. He wants his son to take over, and the public’s not pleased. Financial squalor is probably worse than estimated. Whether or not social media could assist is unknown, but Libya is a likely future front in the spillover.
- Style of government: Presidential democracy, elections not entirely free
- Inflation: No data of note, though likely higher that the 5.4% projection
- Unemployment: 40%
- Social media: 2.2 million internet users, population 23.4 million
- Conclusion: Yemen has the deepest unemployment problem in the region, and likely a serious inflation problem too. There’s a large terrorist group in the country, as it is a headquarters for Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. Protests are already significant. There is a sincere liklihood of change here, or, and this might be worse, further radicalisation of the population.
- Style of government: Democratic republic
- Inflation: Over 15%
- Unemployment: 14% in 2010 (estimate)
- Social media: Heavy use, government has banned use over the depiction of Mohamed before.
- Conclusion: Pakistan has a serious economic crisis, a weakness of state shown in recent flooding, confused positions over the U.S. and Taliban, as well as large anti-government, pro-Muslim fundamentalist forces. The potential for change is there. The biggest power source remains the military, however, and another coup, similar to the one that brought Musharaf to power, could occur.
- Style of government: Authoritarian capitalism
- Inflation: High inflation, including rising food costs
- Unemployment: 6.5%
- Social media: Blogs, Facebook, and other social media venues are prevalent
- Conclusion: In Asia, Vietnam looks a likely candidate for protests, particularly if the economy slows down and unemployment increases. The economic trigger for a downturn would need to be pulled, however, before any change would take place.
- Style of government: Authoritarian republic
- Inflation: 27.2% in 2010
- Unemployment: 8.1% in the first 10 months of 2010
- Social media: It exists, and Chavez has a Twitter account.
- Conclusion: The economic numbers scream change, but there’s no way to know whether or not Chavez has outstayed his welcome. The country hasn’t had the same, long-term oppressive experience as a country like Egypt. And its leadership still appeals to the anti-American sentiment held by the populace.
- Style of government: Authoritarian
- Inflation: China has a serious inflation problem, with food prices at the forefront.
- Unemployment: 4.2% [official figure; real unofficial unemployment is much higher. -Eowyn]
- Social media: Significant penetration, but government aggressively censors
- Conclusion: China has all the ingredients except the big one: unemployment. Now, there’s no guarantee rural China won’t see an uprising related to soaring prices and high unemployment there, but it’s unlikely to be passed on to the country’s cities. It would take a massive economic downturn, like one created by a liquidity crisis leading to a banking crisis leading to a recession, to trigger an unemployment surge that would threaten the regime.