Friday, February 11, 2011

So, Uh, Why'd It Work This Time?

Can anyone come up with a working model for why protests in Egypt succeeded in forcing the resignation of Mubarak, when those in Iran failed?

Here are what I see as potentially salient issues:
  • Mubarak is probably (??) less popular than Ahmadenijad
  • Egypt is poorer and more unequal than Iran
  • Immediacy of food crisis in Egypt
  • Weaker state control over media
  • Western nations have more leverage in Egypt
  • Regime has zero religious legitimacy
  • As Billy Beane would say, f***ing luck.
But which factors matter the most? And are there other factors that I'm missing?


Neil Sinhababu said...

Woooooo! Mubarak resigns! Egyptian people win!

Okay, now those of you who are sober can post intelligent comments.

Rashad said...

I would say it is that Mubarak was less popular, and the religious legitimacy issue.

I don't think you're missing much, other than perhaps the socialist bent of the average Egyptian. They feel that if their life is hard, it is the state's fault, so Mubarak was in some way being held accountable for the country's economic woes. Unfortunately, this doesn't bode well for future economic policies.

Greg Hao said...

Nick, couple things you missed but I think the most important one is that Ahmadenijad while having the title "president" isn't really the true ruler of Iran. It's the Supreme Leader and various other unelected 'officials'.

Check it:

And a second point related to Iran, as was different than Tunisia and now Egypt was that ultimately, it wasn't the people who decided it was time for Hosni Mubarak and Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, it was the military.

Janet said...

The military wasn't on Mubarek's side. Ahmadenijad has the Revolutionary Guards.

Rashad said...

One more thing, the example of Tunisia was invaluable. It is an interesting counterfactual to think about what would have happened if Ben Ali had been kicked out before the Iranian green movement...

janinsanfran said...

According to Charles Blow, (via The Economist) Iran is more economically unequal than Egypt, FWIW.

Additionally, nationalism worked for Ahmadenijad but against Mubarak who had rendered it putrid.

CreidS said...

I agree with what Janet said. Egypt's military is the employer of only resort for many Egyptians in rural/poor areas. They're just regular Joes (well, Mohammeds), and can sympathize with people protesting about food taking up more of their budget than rent.

Also, Iran seems to have cracked down much more swiftly. From what I understand, Iranians are used to people ratting each other out to the secret police, and women being beaten in public by the religious police for, say, exposed ankles.

Egypt didn't seem to really crack down until a few days in, and their apparatus (minus the military) isn't an omnipresent, I'd guess. No religious police, for instance.

Anonymous said...

Dood, it's manmade global warming, is the reason, climate change is the big factor in Egypt. Haven't you kept up with the times?