From Jonah in Jordan

From Jonah in Jordan

This is from my trusted correspondent in Jordan, Jonah–Lilly:

First of all, forget anything you may have heard about Jordan going the way of Egypt. The sudden replacement of the prime minister in times of popular grumbling is pretty routine here and the new government will probably quell the protests, which were pretty small to begin with. Notice that the protests have been against the government (i.e. ministers), not the king, who many people dislike but tolerate because the alternative is too frightening. So no, the internet has not been shut off here and won’t be anytime soon. There is nothing going on here that even approaches a reason for that to happen. Jordan is not Egypt.

As for Egypt, I haven’t written you about it because I don’t like to speculate too much about situations that could go in any number of very different directions. I’ve been watching and waiting.

My impressions so far are that Mubarak’s speech last night was pretty lame, but the promises he made to step down and reform the constitution to set term limits for the presidency–at least one of which I definitely don’t believe–may frankly be enough to convince the periphery of the protest movement to give up and go home. He’s clearly biding his time and banking on the protests losing momentum. But now he’s also sent in his supporters to crack down, so who knows? We can’t be sure what will happen in an hour or a day, much less how this will end, but what is clear is that he has no future as the leader of that country and that something has changed irreversibly there.

Just what that is will become clear in time. Obviously, a system of institutionalized corruption will not correct itself overnight, so even if Mubarak left this evening, it would take years for Egypt to develop a fully functional democracy under the best of conditions. That political development there has been so stagnant for so long is not encouraging in this regard, but on the other hand, nobody saw the Egyptians getting as upset about that stagnation as they apparently have.
What I think is important for people in the US and especially in Israel to understand is that this is not an Islamic revolution, the Muslim Brotherhood is not orchestrating the whole thing, and there’s no real chance of an Iran-style theocracy or even an Islamist-dominated multiparty system emerging from it. The movement is clearly broad-based and at least as secular as it is religious, and while it’s not at all clear what will come of this, Egypt is not about to cancel the peace treaty with Israel or start beheading people for stealing camels.

That Israel’s political leaders and much of its press have said pretty bluntly that only an authoritarian regime in Egypt is acceptable to them is pretty chilling and gives the lie to Israel’s self-proclaimed role as a champion of democracy. But what they and many others don’t seem to see is that ultimately, these protests are not about Israel or about America; they’re about Egypt and its people, and their right to self-determination. It’s telling that it’s become so hard for us to imagine that.

Those are my preliminary thoughts. We’ll see what happens. I hope for the best, but I’m not betting on anything just yet.-Jonah
By | 2011-02-02T18:01:00-05:00 February 2nd, 2011|Blog|0 Comments

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