Sunday, April 24, 2011

UPRISING IN EGYPT: How One Street Vendor Changed the World

UPRISING IN EGYPT:  How One Street Vendor Changed the World
Karen Baum
Muhammed Al Bouazizi was a 26-year-old college graduate; a college graduate who could not obtain a job in his homeland of Tunisia.  In order to provide for his family, he began selling produce as a street vendor.  Al Bouazizi was able to sustain in this way until a police officer seized his goods, and his livelihood, telling him that he did not have the proper permit to be a street vendor.  Al Bouazizi had not deepened the pockets of the correct government officials.  Had he done so, his lack of permit would not be an issue, and the policeman would have looked the other way.  On December 17, 2010, in protest of the corrupt authoritarian government that had stolen his fruit stand, Muhammed Al Bouazizi set himself on fire in front of a government building in central Tunisia.  Eighteen days later, Al Bouazizi perished from his wounds, never knowing that his actions had started a revolution.  Unemployed graduates took to the streets, and on January 14, 2011, caused Tunisia’s president, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, to flee to Saudi Arabia, abandoning his post.  Since then, the young people of other Middle Eastern countries have taken to the streets, hoping to overthrow their own authoritarian leaders.  A few protestors in Yemen, Algeria and Saudi Arabia have copied Muhammed Al Bouazizi’s self-immolation.  A staggering five young men in Egypt have done the same, as protestors in Cairo attempted to overthrow President Hosni Mubarak.  When the regime of this great Middle Eastern nation falls, international affairs around the globe will be impacted.  With one desperate action, in one moment, Muhammed Al Bouazizi has changed the face of the Middle East, and Muhammed Al Bouazizi has changed the world.
As the regime changes in one of the Arabs’ strongest countries, all eyes of the world are on Egypt.  In a revolution unlike any other in our generation, young men and women took to the streets, demanding freedom from oppression, demanding reform of a corrupt government, demanding a democracy with competitive elections.  Former president Hosni Mubarak had ruled Egypt with an iron fist for thirty years, continuing a long history of corruption in Egyptian history. 
From King Farouk through Mubarak, governmental corruption has been a way of life in Egypt.  While Egypt’s people starve in poverty, government officials and their families are known to live in a high state of wealth.  During the Palestine War in 1948, it was widely believed that King Farouk handed his own Egyptian soldiers their defeat by Israeli armies.  The king was thought to be diverting funds meant for defense into his personal bank accounts, thereby supplying Egyptian soldiers on the front lines with shoddy weaponry and insufficient supplies.  Egypt was defeated heavily during the war, and blame was placed on King Farouk and his corrupt ways.  It was then that Major Gamal Abdel Nasser, an Egyptian soldier wounded in the Palestine War, helped to form an underground group to fight corruption called the Free Officers. 
In three years, the Free Officers would overthrow the government and place themselves in charge. Nasser and his men ordered the king out of Egypt and placed the army in charge, promising the people to end corruption in the government.  Egypt was officially named a republic under the Free Officers, and eventually Nasser was named president, running under a platform of Pan Arabism.  Nasser was popular with the Egyptian people for his policy of alliance between all Arab nations, though it was difficult to implement.  Domestically, Nasser ruled Egypt under what he called Arab Socialism.  Private companies were nationalized, and the economy became ruled by a big government.  Nasser further ingratiated himself to the Egyptian people by expelling the British from the Suez Canal and retaining full control of the canal for Egypt.  Nasser’s idea of a unified Arab nation was popular throughout the Arab world, and his death in 1970 was mourned by Arabs all over the world.  Nasser’s successor, Anwar Sadat, would prove to put the country on a very different path, one that was not popular with either the Egyptian people or the Arab world.
A Free Officer sworn to end Egyptian corruption, Anwar Sadat, seemed to have lost his way.  Sadat abandoned Nasser’s idea of Pan-Arabism and focused on retrieving the lost Sinai Peninsula from the Israelis, who had forcibly taken control of it during Nasser’s term in office.  A military operation into the area was unsuccessful, and Egypt’s military losses were heavy.  It was then that Sadat changed tactics and made the decision to move forward with a peace treaty with Israel in order to return the lost land, a severely unpopular move amongst the Egyptian people and the rest of the Arab world.  Adding insult to injury, Sadat aligned Egypt with the United States in order to facilitate the detested peace process with Israel.  The treaty decision was made at Camp David in 1978.  The Sinai Peninsula was returned to Egypt, a victory for Sadat, but as a result of the treaty Egypt was expelled from the Arab League and the Islamic Conference Organization.  A large number of Arab states ceased all business in Cairo.  Egypt’s economy firmly rested on American foreign aid and oil revenue crossing through the Suez Canal.  The gap between Egypt’s wealthy and poor grew wider and wider during Sadat’s term as Egypt’s president, and he was never able to gain back the approval of his people.  Again, the government had turned to corruption.  As Egypt’s impoverished people crowded in slums, Sadat and his family became substantially wealthy.  His brother, employed as a bus driver, managed to amass 150 million dollars.  Opposition groups became raucous in their calls for the end of corruption, but they were suppressed by the nationalized Egyptian media, which sent only government-approved messages to the people of Egypt.  Eventually, an Islamic extremist group, Al Jihad, was successful in the assassination of Anwar Sadat during a military parade in 1981.  Unlike Nasser, whose death was mourned throughout the Arab world, Sadat’s death was actually celebrated by some.  Vice President Hosni Mubarak was primed for the presidency, and it was now up to him to win back the approval of the Egyptian people.
Hosni Mubarak accepted his presidential nomination in 1981 with the words, “I pledge to God and the great Egyptian people to be loyal to the fulfillment of their aspiration and to complete the procession along the road of freedom, democracy, prosperity and peace.” (Solecki 59)  From the beginning, he let his people know that he would be taking a very different approach to rule than his predecessor.  Mubarak ingratiated himself to his people by arresting high-ranking government officials on corruption charges, including Sadat’s family.  He opened up elections to the five oppositional parties in Egypt, whereas Sadat had allowed only his party to run candidates.  Mubarak also released information openly, allowing the news media to operate freely in Egypt.  However, the democracy that Mubarak promised the Egyptians never came.
After Sadat’s assassination, a state of emergency was declared in Egypt, meaning military law.  This state of emergency law has persisted for the past thirty years.  While it is true that Mubarak opened elections to oppositional parties in the 1984 election, rules and strategies were put into place in order to make sure that Mubarak, of the National Democratic Party, remained firmly in charge.  In what is known as the electoral law, only parties with eight percent of the vote could obtain seats in the People’s Assembly.  In 1984, this meant that four of the six parties won no seats in the Assembly.  Furthermore, any votes acquired by the political parties that did not receive the minimum eight percent automatically went to the winning party, including the seats those votes would have won.  As a result, the People’s Assembly ended up being filled with 87% seats from Mubarak’s party.  This election was riddled with controversy, as rumors spread that the corrupt government had somehow fixed the election in its favor.  The rumors gained steam when yet another controversial election was held in 1987.
Toward the end of 1986, Egypt was under what became known as a constitutional crisis.  Egypt’s constitution, under the “Parties’ Law” passed by Sadat, makes the founding of new political parties increasingly difficult.  New parties must be distinct from existing parties; they must not be based on religion or class, yet they cannot contradict the principles of Islamic Law; parties must be based on the principles of national unity and social peace; they must accept the results of popular referenda; and parties cannot be contradictory to the principles of the revolutions of 1952 and 1971.  Members of opposition parties complained to the High Administrative Council, claiming that both the electoral rules and the party rules were unconstitutional.  The Council agreed, sending a case deeming the electoral law to the Supreme Constitutional Court.  To ease the tension, Parliament immediately took steps to change the law.  A rule reserving a certain number of seats for women was eliminated, and an item disallowing independent candidates was removed.  To further stall pressure by the opposition, Mubarak dissolved the assembly the day before a mass opposition rally was to take place, opening the floor for another round of elections in 1987.  This election, too, was riddled with accusations of corruption.  The NDP again won the majority of seats in the Assembly amidst allegations of inaccurate vote counting, misleading voter turnout reports, and the use of scare tactics to coerce voters in the countryside to vote for the government’s party, as voter turnout in the countryside was quite higher than the urban turnout, and the countryside is where the government has the most control.  Many urban Egyptians were said to have boycotted the vote, forcing the low turnout, because they did not want to support the government party.  Furthermore, during the 1987 election, Mubarak promised that this would be his final term in office.  Yet, in early 2011, Hosni Mubarak still controlled Egypt.
As the 21st century approached, the Egyptians saw the gap between the wealthy and the poor grow wider and wider.  Their country was being run by a president that the people saw doing nothing to ease the burden on Egypt’s impoverished population.  Rapid population growth and loss of jobs created massive poverty on the city streets.  Mubarak attempted to tackle this problem early in his presidency, but by the late 1990s and early 2000s, the problem had worsened.  According to Tarek Osman in Egypt on the Brink:  From Nasser to Mubarak, President Mubarak believed that economic problems were Egypt’s only issue and that if he solved this problem, all of Egypt’s problems would be solved.  Eventually, Mr. Mubarak sought help from the International Monetary Fund, where he promptly ignored all advice, save for raising food prices, putting more pressure on his people.  From the perspective of the Egyptian people, however, the main problem appeared to be the state of emergency law that Mubarak  imposed after the assassination of his predecessor, Anwar Sadat, thirty years ago.
Hosni Mubarak was standing next to Anwar Sadat when he was killed.  This traumatic event led Mubarak to become obsessed with security.  He increased Egypt’s internal security forces to 2 million soldiers, larger than any force ever sent to fight a war for Egypt (Osman 194).  Most of Mubarak’s foreign policy revolved around security issues and military exercises.  He strengthened ties with the United States, thereby fortifying a cold peace with Israel, a position that angered the people of Egypt.  Mubarak’s peace with Israel earned him nearly 2 billion dollars in aid annually from the United States.  Money his people only saw as oppressive soldiers with tanks and new weapons roamed the streets of Egypt’s major cities, keeping Mubarak’s opposition at bay.  Under military law, anyone could be arrested at any time for any reason.  Torture camps were rumored to be embedded inside internal security buildings.  Any opposition to Mubarak was promptly crushed by his internal security forces. 
He [Mubarak] was president for 30 years and he wanted to be president for LIFE, and when he dies; his son would take over.  It was like " Mubarak's Kingdom", anyone who'd run for president with him will go to jail!  More than 48 million person are less than poor, 45% of the people live with less than a dollar a day.  Twelve million person are homeless.  That's how life with Mubarak was.  He was one of the worse presidents in the world.”  These words were written on Facebook, a social networking site, by Nada AbdAllah Saad, an Egyptian resident and supporter of revolution.  The people of Egypt live in a world where nearly half of the population of cities lives in poverty, scrounging for food and barely living.  Egyptian youth come out of university unable to find a job to provide for their families.  Their leader has stolen aid money meant to boost Egyptian economy and quality of life for Egyptian citizens to build an oppressive military.  Egyptians lived a life of fear in the streets, rumors of beating and torture in the cities for speaking the wrong words against Mubarak.  Eventually, the people of Egypt reached their breaking point.  Where Muhammed Al Bouazizi sparked the revolution of Tunisia, another young man, Khaled Said, was the trigger for the Egyptians.
A young man sitting at an Internet café in Alexandria, Egypt, is dragged from his chair and out into the streets by police in broad daylight.  There, he is brutally beaten to death, his head repeatedly smashed into a marble staircase.  The body is left to rot in the street outside of a busy café.  Khaled Said had committed the crime of attempting to expose a corrupt police force.  He had copied video of police splitting confiscated marijuana amongst themselves and posted it on the popular social networking video website YouTube.  Police carried Said’s body to the morgue, where his family was denied access to him.  They were told that Said died after swallowing “a bag of drugs” and insisted they had witnesses who saw the bag, though other witnesses, including the café owner, told the truth of the beating.  Said was just 28 years old when he was murdered by police while the city of Alexandria, and eventually the world, watched.  The death of Said was the breaking point.
Egypt is a nation proud of its heritage.  Egypt originated societies, architecture and government.  As such, Egypt’s revolution is as original as its history.  A fascinating revolution unlike any other in history, no matter how recent.  In response to Khaled Said’s brutal murder, an anonymous Egyptian, calling himself only El Shaheed (martyr), created a page on the popular social networking site Facebook, under Said’s name.  The page, titled We Are All Khaled Said, was a driving force behind Egypt’s popular revolution.  Shortly after the June 6 murder, We Are All Khaled Said featured prominently a brutal photo of Said at the morgue, showing his missing teeth and shattered face.  Clearly, this was not the result of a drug overdose. 
As the revolution in Tunisia swelled to success, El Shaheed and his small team of confidants decided to take the Facebook page to the next level.  The revolution was set to begin with protest on 25 January in Tahir Square.  Who of the page’s over 350,000 fans would be there?  As it turns out, thousands upon thousands, including El Shaheed himself.  El Shaheed was risking a lot by posting true information about Said and other incidences of Egyptian police brutality, but by publicly calling for and organizing a popular revolution, he was risking life itself.  Unfortunately, shortly after the first protest in Tahir Square, his attempts to remain anonymous were foiled, and El Shaheed, now identified as Google marketing executive Wael Ghonim, went missing.  Ghonim sent one last terrifying phone call to his team, “I think they’re following me.  I’m going to destroy this phone.” (Newsweek)  Shortly thereafter, Ghonim’s team confirmed he was missing, and his contingency plan went into place.  A player calling himself only “Admin 2” notified Ghonim’s wife and two children that he was missing, and concluded that the revolution must go on without him at this time.  Admin 2 kept the page alive, posting information about further protesting dates and locations and keeping the momentum Ghonim had begun from going stale.  Admin 2 set about changing passwords and security codes for all revolution websites, hoping he was not putting Ghonim in greater danger by following the contingency plan.  He told Newsweek, “I either protect my friend or I continue the movement.  It turns out I am not a good friend.”  Ghonim’s contingency plan spread all of the way to Washington D.C., where a teammate, Nadine Wahab, received a message from Admin 2.  The page must go on.  The page was more important than Ghonim.  Egypt was more important than Ghonim. 
Admin 2 created his own contingency plan, while Wahab lived in fear of what could happen to her in the United States.  After Google launched a campaign to find their missing executive, rumors began swirling that Ghonim was El Shaheed.  Wahab sent word to Newsweek trying to refute the rumors, claiming to be El Shaheed and stating all was well.  The purpose of We Are All Khaled Said was not fame or even leadership.  The page was showing the people of Egypt that they could lead themselves, they could revolt themselves, and they could rebuild Egypt themselves.  Ghonim was not interested in leading the people.  He was interested in having the people lead themselves.  Wael Ghonim was eventually released from a detention center where he was being held, blindfolded and oblivious to the revolution outside of his cell walls, on 7 February, two weeks after disappearing.  What he found was that he had become the face of the revolution, much to his dismay.  Though Ghonim had been outed against his wishes, the revolution had gone on without him according to plan.  By his release on 7 February, the Egyptian protestors were sure that Mubarak’s regime would soon be removed.
What began as a peaceful protest on 25 January soon turned ugly for the people of Egypt, as police fired tear gas and water cannons into the crowd.  A revolution that began as a call for protests in Tahrir Square spread cross country, as protests began in every major city in Egypt.  Though the opposition group Muslim Brotherhood denied any involvement in the revolution, interior agencies pinned the protests on them in Egypt’s media.  Three were reported dead on 25 January, a day called “A Day of Anger”.  The interior ministry calls for the people to go home and return to normal life.  Far from listening, the people flood the streets of Egypt’s cities for a second time the next day, with clashes between police and protestors becoming more heated.  Dozens are reported injured with another two dead.  On 27 January, protestors again take to the streets, their numbers becoming ever larger, and live gunfire is exchanged in Suez, killing one young  man.  It is here that Mubarak pulls cell phone and Internet connections from his people, cutting them off from a support network spanning the world over and connections to the social networks that have kept the revolutionaries informed.  The evening of 28 January, Mubarak attempts to make concessions by dismissing his government.  In the same day, he issues troops into the streets to fight the people of his country, threatening “decisive measures” if they do not go home.  The people are not acquiesced.  Though over 1000 people are injured and a reported 11 killed in Egypt this day, they continue to fight for democracy.  On 29 January, Mubarak again attempts to coerce the crowd into leaving by making concessions.  He’s fired his cabinet, and for the first time in his presidency, he’s appointed a vice president, Omar Sulieman.  This is not what the Egyptian people want to hear!  They will not stop until Mubarak steps down, and by the time the end of January rolls around, their numbers top 250,000.  Mubarak promises constitutional reforms; he promises government subsidies and cuts in food prices.  These promises that fall on deaf ears.  They mean nothing if Mubarak will not go.  He tries again on 1 February, stating he will not run for re-election.  This, too, is not what the people want.  The demands of the people of Egypt are clear.  They are finished with Mr. Mubarak and everything he stands for.  The Egyptian military officially sides with protestors, stating they will not hurt the people of Egypt.  Still, protestors are injured in clashes with Mubarak’s supporters, who are rumored to be, and some admitted to being, paid by Mubarak’s security to resort to violence against peaceful demonstrations. Protestors in February number over 1 million in Cairo alone.  On 5 February, more government changes are made with the leaders of Mubarak’s National Democratic Party stepping down, but Mubarak again refuses to leave.  By 9 February, labor strikes have begun in all of Egypt’s major cities.  Industry is ground to a halt as workers demand reform and higher pay.  Sulieman again issues a veiled threat to protestors, as though they are a minor nuisance, by announcing that the government “can’t put up with continued protests.”  Suddenly, on 10 February, rumors begin to circulate that this will be the day Hosni Mubarak will resign.  Tahrir Square is changed from a mass of anger to a celebration.  Hundreds of thousands dance in the square, while hundreds of thousands more watch from home around the world, awaiting the long anticipated announcement.  Mr. Mubarak finally shows himself on national television an hour later than promised, only to reiterate that he will not run for reelection in September and that he will maintain his duty at president of Egypt until that time.  Protestors are infuriated and show their disrespect by waving their shoes at the television in Tahrir Square.  Finally, on 11 February, Mr. Sulieman announces the resignation of Hosni Mubarak.  In 18 days, the people of Egypt have accomplished the major goal of their revolution.  For the first time in 30 years, the Egyptian people have hope for the future.  (Al Jazeera English) 
We had some rough days, but we literally made history.  Actually, it was the best days of my life.  After 25th January revolution, things haven't changed much, but I hope it will, and I hope we'll have democracy and we'll never go back to what we were before 25th January.  Egypt will be better, the best I hope!” says Nada AbdAllah Saad.  There are many factors going into whether Nada’s hopes will be realized, the main one being the power vacuum that has been created by the revolution and who of the opposition will step forward to run for election.  There are long-term demands of the revolution still to be met, such as a reformed constitution, free elections allowing all parties, and trials for members of Mubarak’s regime.
As a nation steeped in religious and political antiquity, Egypt has long been a model for other Arab countries.  Egypt has the largest population in the Middle East and the second-largest economy.  Therefore, whatever the outcome of Egypt may prove to be the dominant outcome of other regime changes in the Middle East.  If Egypt can achieve the democracy that people are asking for, then there is hope for democracy throughout the region.  Egypt’s democracy would be unlike any other in the world, if it can be achieved.  Egypt’s new political system is one that is charged with marrying a people’s democracy with an Islamic influence.  Whether this is a system that can be successfully achieved is yet to be determined.
Since the end of Mubarak’s regime, Egypt has been in control of a military government.  In September, Egyptians will vote in a free election to vote a new parliament, and the military will defer power.   A month or two later, they will vote for their new president.  New constitutional referendum, voted on March 19, limits the presidency to 2 four-year terms, as well as open a competitive presidential vote with judicial oversight.  (Al Jazeera)  Egyptians will be voting on several issues as they build their government from scratch, and the biggest question on the minds of the rest of the world is, will Egypt emerge as a religious or a secular state?
“What needs to happen…is a peaceful and orderly transition of power, to channel the revolutionary fervor into concrete steps for a new Egypt based on freedom and social justice.  The new leaders will have to guarantee the rights of all Egyptians. They will need to dissolve the current Parliament, no longer remotely representative of the people. They will also need to abolish the Constitution, which has become an instrument of repression, and replace it with a provisional Constitution, a three-person presidential council and a transitional government of national unity.”
These words were written by Mohamed ElBaradei in an Op-Ed piece he wrote for the New York Times in February 2011.  ElBaradei is a former UN watchdog chief, and the first to say he would run for president of Egypt during the next election.  ElBaradei had been working for the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna in the field of peaceful uses for nuclear energy, work for which he earned a Nobel Peace Prize.  He returned to Cairo from a self-imposed exile in the midst of Egypt’s protests to a raucous crowd of supporters.  Many Egyptians saw him as a strong opposition leader and promoter of democracy and peace.  ElBaradei has stuck to his position of a three-person presidential council, including a member of the military representative to ensure security.  In an interview with Dar Spiegel, a German magazine, ElBaradei cast doubt on the Camp David peace agreements saying, “Something the Israelis also need to grasp is that it's impossible to make peace with a single man. At the moment, they have a peace treaty with Mubarak, but not one with the Egyptian people.”  This statement has both Israelis and Western governments eyeing ElBaradei cautiously.  Since announcing his run for the presidency, ElBaradei has gained the backing of the Muslim Brotherhood, a fact that his opposition has held onto.  They say that the youth of Egypt did not fight for a religious state, but a secular one.  ElBaradei assured the people of Egypt that the Muslim Brotherhood is on board with a secular state, though the Brotherhood has long fought for Sharia law in Egypt.  It would appear that the Brotherhood is willing to put democracy at the forefront in order to gain support for the organization and establish itself as a political player.
The Muslim Brotherhood has a long history in Egypt.  Founded in 1928, the Brotherhood is Egypt’s largest Islamic group, and its main political goal has been to establish a constitution based on Sharia law.  In the past, the Brotherhood has been involved in accusations of political violence, even assassinations.  The Brotherhood denounced the killings and became involved with the Free Officers, a political party that placed Gamal Abdul Nassar and Anwar Sadat into the presidency.  However, political relations deteriorated, and the Muslim Brotherhood was again linked to violence and blamed for an assassination attempt on the life of former President Nassar.  The Brotherhood was banned, and many members were arrested.  In the 1960s, a Brotherhood member called Sayyid Qutb began taking the Islamic group to extremes, prompting the offshoots of the Islamic Jihad and al-Qaeda.  Today, however, the Muslim Brotherhood denounces violence and has no tolerance for extremist movements.  The Brotherhood still wishes to establish Sharia law, but representatives have stated that a peaceful transition and regime change is more important, and they feel they have proven this position by backing secular candidate Mohamed ElBaradei.  Issam al-Aryan, a senior official of the Brotherhood’s Guidance Council told the BBC, “"We want a civil state, based on Islamic principles. A democratic state, with a parliamentary system, with freedom to form parties, press freedom, and an independent and fair judiciary.”  Despite these claims, many Western governments are proceeding with caution regarding the Brotherhood.  The Brotherhood does have a history of extremism and violence.  It seems inevitable that the Muslim Brotherhood will have influence in Egypt’s new regime due to the vast size of the organization and the Muslim majority in Egypt, but just how much political involvement the Brotherhood will pursue remains to be seen.  If the Muslim Brotherhood is able to help successfully create a democracy based in Islam that the people are willing to accept, Egypt will be able to claim yet another first.
The only other person, so far, to state his intention to run for the presidency is Amr Moussa, secretary general of the Arab League and former foreign minister under Hosni Mubarak.  Per Al Jazeera, Moussa was very popular as foreign minister and a politician for the people.  It was widely thought when he was nominated for secretary general of the Arab League, that Mubarak was trying to get rid of Moussa before he became more of a political threat.  Moussa has not yet aligned himself with any particular political party.  Amr Moussa is known for taking a hard line against Israel, boosting his popularity with the people of Egypt.  However, he told the Jerusalem Post that he would keep the peace treaty with Israel, at least until Egypt was rebuilt.  Moussa’s campaign is focused on domestic policy in Egypt.  We as Egyptians have a responsibility to lay the foundations for peace... We cannot rebuild Egypt... while adopting an adventurous foreign policy,” he told the Jerusalem Post.  As secretary general of the Arab League, Moussa has been highly involved in Gaza in an attempt to both promote peace and Palestinian freedom, calling for an end to Israeli blockade in Gaza during a visit in 2010.  Amr Moussa may very well be stiff competition for Mohamed ElBaradei.  For now, only two men have entered the presidential race, and it is yet to be seen whether someone new will run beside them.  In any case, elections in September will be free for the first time in decades, but will the people vote?
Historically, voter turnout in Egypt has been low.  Corrupt governments have kept voters at home, under the assumption that their votes would be marred by a rigged outcome.  After the revolution, however there is evidence that voter turnout will be high in the coming parliamentary and presidential elections.  A free election was held to enforce constitutional referendums, including limiting presidential terms to two, with a much higher voter turnout than in previous elections, around 41% according to Al Arabiya News.  Many Egyptian voters have a great distrust for all politicians, and a large number may still stay away from the polls, deciding instead to “let their feet do the talking”.  No matter the outcome of the upcoming elections, the world watches Egypt.  The once great Arab powerhouse seems to be well on its way to becoming one again, a leader for democracy in the Arab world.  Egypt will be a model for the region, and that is a lot of pressure for the new leadership.  As Algeria, Libya, Yemen, Iran, Syria and others in the Middle East follow Egypt’s lead in revolution, so they may follow Egypt’s lead in government.  Should regime changes hold in all of these nations, foreign policies regarding Israel, international trade, and economic interdependence with the West, Russia, India, China and the rest of the world are all up in the air.  Starting with Tunisia, one man, Muhammed Al Bouazizi, has changed the entire region, and he has changed the entire globe.

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