The witnessed unrest in Tunis serves as a startling red flag for repressive governments across the Middle East who have continued to disregard warnings that maintaining stability through suppression may one day backfire. Political activists in Egypt and the opposition, in particular the Muslim Brotherhood, has suffered the brunt of the ruling regime’s suppression.
According to a recent article in the Christian Science Monitor cites:
“The Tunisia protests, combined with the eruption of riots in neighbouring Algeria last week and recent unrest in Jordan, are worrying signs for Cairo. Egypt, the Arab world's most populous country, also has a bulging youth population that has a far harder time landing jobs than other segments of society, and a tightly managed political system that has left little room for dissent.”
While the protests are unlikely to bring down any governments in the near future, they foretell trouble ahead if leaders who have ruled with an iron fist for decades, try to keep a tighter lid on a disgruntlement population, rather than creating a safety valve for anger.
Diaa Rashwan from the Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies in Cairo has maintained that trouble in Tunisia should be seen as a warning sign for the Egyptian regime. He doubted, however, that Egypt would pay any attention where Egypt’s trade minister described Egypt’s conditions as different, arguing that Egypt was committed to maintaining food subsidies to keep prices low, stressing that the Tunisian scenario could not play out in Egypt.
Yet Egypt’s huge youth population, where approximately 60 percent of Egyptians are under 30, are growing restless under the rule of the aging Hosni Mubarak, who has increasingly clamped down on dissent in the past year.
The Egyptian regime certainly has its work cut out and according to experts the regime will need to carefully manage issues like unemployment and food security especially as global food prices and inflation in Egypt rises. This, and widespread political dissatisfaction, has caused many people to suffer and although they are suffering silently for the moment, at some time things may very well explode into popular anger.