Just to cast the spotlight more broadly, as I did yesterday, here are some of the events happening elsewhere in the Muslim world.
• Over twenty thousand protesters marched in the streets in Sanaa, Yemen, in the “Day of Rage” protests against the government. The President, Ali Abdullah Saleh, has already announced he would step down in 2013, in response to protests. But the street activists have rejected that as insufficient.
“The people want regime change,” protesters shouted as they gathered outside Sanaa University. “No to corruption, no to dictatorship.” […]
Wael Mansour, an organizer of the Thursday rally, said Yemenis were not satisfied with Saleh’s concessions.
“Today will bring more, fresh pressure on President Saleh, who will have to present further concessions to the opposition,” he said, without specifying what those concessions might be.
It should be noted that pro-government forces held protests today as well, and unlike in Egypt, those went off peacefully. Saleh announced additional reforms, including “a fund to employ university graduates and to extend social security coverage, increased wages and reduced income taxes.” The protesters said that he had not kept any promises over the past 30 years. Saleh also has to deal with a secession movement in the south, as well as the presence of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.
• Jordan’s new prime minister opened talks with the opposition, including the Muslim Brotherhood, a day after he was installed by King Abdullah II. The opposition said it would not rally after Friday prayers.
• The New York Times has a recap of protests in Sudan, which were put down in particularly brutal fashion. Mostly organized by the young over social media, the protests have not yet captured the imagination of the general population. However, street protests of this type brought down the government in Khartoum in 1964 and 1985. However, with a military government in place and no sign of tension there, repression is probably a more likely outcome.
All of these uprisings have a similar source – specific economic grievances by the population. The global recession has exacerbated the sentiment among the poor, as has the recent spike in world food prices. These governments have, in general, not provided for the broad mass of their people, and these grievances are coming to a head, feeding off successful actions elsewhere in the region. It doesn’t mean that all of them, or any of them, will be successful; it means that they basically spring from a common source.
UPDATE: The Algerian government will lift a 19-year state of emergency, perhaps in response to protests against state-sponsored repression.