Parallels between Tahrir Square in 2011 and Tiananmen Square in 1989 haven’t been lost on China’s media censors. Last week two of the nation’s biggest Internet portals, Sina.com and NetEase.com, blocked keyword searches of the word “Egypt.” So did Weibo, China’s Twitter equivalent. (China’s Great Firewall already blocks access to the real Twitter, as well as Facebook and YouTube.) The party warned that websites refusing to censor comments about Egypt would be “shut down by force.”
While much of Europe slashes spending to reduce deficits, surging oil prices are allowing Russia to splurge. The Kremlin’s choice of stimulus package is a bit of a throwback, though—among other things, a new fleet of warships to challenge China. Last week Prime Minister Vladimir Putin announced a whopping $678 billion package of new defense spending for the next decade, with a quarter of the money going to revamp Russia’s Pacific fleet. On the Kremlin’s shopping list: 20 new ships, including a new class of attack submarines, plus new missile subs, frigates, and an aircraft carrier.
For decades, a Swiss bank account was the favored hideaway for assets snaffled by the world’s most kleptocratic leaders. The roll of dishonor includes presidents Marcos of the Philippines, Mobutu of Zaire, Abacha of Nigeria, and “Baby Doc” Duvalier of Haiti. But these days Switzerland seems eager to clean up its reputation: last month authorities rushed to freeze the assets of ousted Tunisian leader Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali and Ivory Coast embattled president Laurent Gbagbo. And just last week a new Swiss law took effect that will make it easier to reclaim cash plundered by Third World tyrants.
Never underestimate Americans’ capacity for denial. The upheaval in Egypt reminds us of lessons that, despite decades of warnings, we have consistently sidestepped: the United States and the rest of the world will depend on oil for the indefinite future, global oil markets remain hostage to political crises that cannot be predicted or controlled, and we have not taken the prudent steps that would reduce—though not eliminate—our vulnerability to catastrophic oil interruptions.
At least for the moment, the Brotherhood will remain an important player in the Arab world wherever it can participate in free and fair elections. Democracy is about organization, not the random will of the masses. The party that can get out the votes gets control of the government. But the Egyptians have known and watched the Brotherhood for a long time, and in an open, peaceful political system its mystique should soon disappear.
In my early days in the United States, whenever anyone discovered that I was from Singapore, they wanted to discuss one of two things: the ban on chewing gum or the fact that officials had once ordered an American teenager caned for vandalism.
The most important skill that a CIA officer can have is the ability to be at the right place at the right time—and to recognize the moment. By that taxing measure, Bruce Riedel has been extraordinarily successful.
President Hosni Mubarak has bowed to a popular uprising and will soon quit. Who’s next? From Jordan’s shaky monarchy to a Yemen regime scarred by WikiLeaks, which Middle East leaders could soon follow suit?
With the Internet down across Egypt, Google and Twitter have come up with a way for Egyptians to tweet using their phones. Now, Dan Lyons reports, a group of hackers is close to delivering software that could turn laptops into low-cost Internet routers—and help protesters organize.
Iran’s Green Revolution had a martyr named Neda, a 26-year-old woman gunned down in the streets of Tehran. Tunisia’s was Mohamed Bouazizi, an unemployed university graduate who set himself ablaze outside a government building. Egypt’s is Khaled Said—because someone has been agitating under the dead man’s name.
Obama administration officials say they are not taking sides between President Hosni Mubarak, America’s key ally in the Arab world, and the street protesters who purportedly represent a path to democracy in authoritarian Egypt. These officials might even believe what they’re saying. But the very assertion of “not taking sides” is itself a tilt away from the all-out support traditionally given by Washington to this Egyptian strongman in recent decades.
If Palestinians had been looking for a reason to join the protests sweeping the Arab world, Al-Jazeera provided one last week with a trove of leaked documents suggesting their leaders had made deep concessions to Israel in peace talks over the past decade. Among other things, negotiators apparently agreed to forgo the repatriation to Israel of most Palestinian refugees, a taboo issue if ever there was one. Yet across the West Bank, Palestinians remained mostly indifferent to the news. Few showed up at protests, and no mainstream figure called for President Mahmoud Abbas’s resignation. The backlash that some analysts had predicted never materialized.
As President Jimmy Carter’s national-security adviser during the 1979 fall of the shah in Iran, Zbigniew Brzezinski has dealt intimately with history-bending revolutions. After mass protests deposed a regime in Tunisia and later spread to the streets of Egypt and Yemen last week, NEWSWEEK’s John Barry talked to the Johns Hopkins professor about the way young people across the Arab world—many of them disaffected and disenchanted—are now connecting on the circuits of a new revolutionary age.
The brooding French may be the world’s biggest pessimists—61 percent anticipated more economic hardship in 2011, more than twice the global average, according to a recent Gallup International poll—but they’re still adding new infants to their healthy broods.