GLOBAL JOURNALIST: Determining the impact of Egypt's turmoil

Friday, February 4, 2011 | 12:38 p.m. CST; updated 8:42 p.m. CST, Friday, February 4, 2011

The delicate balance of power in the Middle East was shaken in recent weeks, as millions of citizens protested against their governments. On the heels of the revolt in Tunisia, the recent uprisings in Egypt have grown in size and intensity as supporters of the current Egyptian government continue to clash with dissenters who demand the immediate removal of the newly elected president, Hosni Mubarak. In Jordan, King Abdullah II sacked his cabinet in response to protesters who demanded improved living conditions. And the release of 1,600 international documents from a decade of negotiations between Israel and Palestine, dubbed the Palestine Papers, have further eroded the seemingly perpetually shaky relationship between the two entities.

Historically, the nations of the Middle East have been subject to social and political outbursts, some of which have left bitter emotional scars on those who call the region home. Have these events added fire to the powder keg of the Middle East? What do these events mean for the rest of the world?

This week, we explore these issues and more on the Global Journalist.

Listen to this week's show.

Highlights from this week's guests:

Tel Aviv, Israel: Mya Guarnieri, a freelance journalist who writes regularly for Al Jazeera

"We need to think of the Internet as a tool. Even when the Internet was down, there were people out on the streets. They were still protesting. It was a tool to start venting those frustrations and getting organized. It's not about Israel. It's not about the peace of Israel. It's not about the Palestinians. This is about the Egyptian people wanting to have better lives for themselves and declare that they won't be oppressed and that they have a right to live free… I think this is an outpouring of all that frustration we see. And it's a demand for change."

Tel Aviv, Israel: Avi Issacharoff, a Palestinian and Arab affairs correspondent

"Tyrants cannot live forever. They cannot stay in power forever. It's not only understood in Tunisia and Egypt but in many other places. At the end, there are some limits to the power of those tyrants. …I believe the regimes in Syria and Iran will come to an end. …Those regimes would have to face their own people and say, 'What can I do for my public?' This is the big event that happened to many of us, the journalists and the analysts whether in Egypt or any other place in the world, we finally understand there are public opinions in the Middle East. Yes, even dictators like Mubarak have to take in what their own people would say about ordering the results of the elections last November or that the king of Jordan would have to take measures in order to satisfy his people."

Amman, Jordan: Daoud Kuttab, a Palestinian journalist and producer

"A lot of Americans are looking at the Islamic angle, which really has nothing to do with what's happening… The majority of Arab countries are very young. The majority of the population is under 30… The fact that people are hooked up to the cell phones and Internet has helped in getting the people who have no centralized command of government and those governments that dictators can easily control, is what has really made this kind of uprising popular and successful… As Assange of Wikileaks said, 'Courage is contagious.' This virus of courage seems to be spreading very quickly from Tunisia to Algeria to Egypt and to other countries, and I think you will see 2011 as a completely different year for the Arab countries.'"

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hank ottinger February 4, 2011 | 6:00 p.m.

All these are telling comments. Predicting outcomes in these countries will be extremely difficult, I believe. Equally, if not more significant, what happens if this rapidly moving wave of protest emerges in Pakistan? The NYT provides a salient overview in today's paper:

(Report Comment)
frank christian February 6, 2011 | 3:57 p.m.

Hank - Thanks for the NYT link. I noted this question answered by the NYT Baghdad Bureau Chief:

Liberty for All from Austin, Tex., asks: Do you see the uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East (Tunisia, Lebanon, Egypt, Yemen) as having an effect on Iraqi stability and the political machinations there?

Arguably, *Iraqis now have the kind of political freedom that protesters in Tunisia and Egypt have poured into the streets to demand.* They can -and- did vote for their representatives in truly competitive elections on the provincial and national level. Despite continued violence and hardship, they live, work and speak in ways that would have been unimaginable under Saddam Hussein’s rule.

(Report Comment)

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