“days and nights in the kingdom of Morocco…and some thoughts on MENA politics”

January 29, 2011 § 1 Comment

The day tear gas, rubber bullets and army tanks are used to reestablish peace is the day the Kings beat the Lakers. Oh wait, Kings 100; Lakers 95? Way to go Kings.

Seeing the growing number of deaths in these protests, and seeing army tanks rolling through the streets makes me look at the role of the army in Egypt. It’s not Tunisia, where the military was relatively independent. The Egyptian army is well supported by the US, and is rather aligned with Mubarak’s regime. But, it is possible that they will switch -from a regime that “suppresses ideas” and uses emergency laws to preserve itself- to side with the people. The army is of interest for another reason: US foreign policy. Because US policy is tied to Israel, and each Arab regime that falls might become hostile towards the US, as the population will move the country in a different direction. As long as the US holds it’s ties with Israel, it will jeopardize its relations with future regional governments if these new governments do indeed give concessions to the people.

I seriously regret seeing the death toll rise as Mubarak offers a band-aid solution to the opening bleeding wounded pride of the people. Any gardener will tell you that you can’t simply yank the leaves off a weed to solve the problem; you’ve got to completely uproot it. Mubarak, that’s your cue. But like Contador disputing his doping charges, Mubarak seems stupidly resolute. And with China blocking “Egypt” searches online, and the US’s official stance ignoring the need for Mubarak to set down, the people of Egypt will need to look within for further momentum.

For obvious reasons, North African and Middle Eastern politics have pilfered the lion’s share of my post content lately. Eating the customary Friday couscous with members of my landlord’s family yesterday, and watching live coverage as Egyptians poured out of the mosques and into the streets, I began feeling an even greater bond with the uprisings. And when I’m not obsessing over African nations, as people close to me know, the Palestinian plight also occupies a great deal of my attention. So between the uprisings popping up all over, and Al Jazeera publishing ten years of closed-door negotiation conversations in the Middle East (The Palestine Papers), well I’m in a bit of a frenzy. Remember, this is coming from a Post-Colonial African Studies major who reads books like The Destroyed Palestinian Villages and organizes Middle East summits for fun. However, today I have to take a short break from the newsfeeds and live coverage and get to work on my internship. I have my first set of interviews in a few hours. I bought batteries for my tape recorder, I have my questions translated into French and Moroccan Arabic, but I’m not feeling particularly ready. I guess I’ve got to start somewhere.

(By the way, I do not think the protests will spread to Morocco, where we have a king and not an elected President, though there are strong signs of solidarity)

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