UPDATED 02/02/2011 @ 11:00EST
****UPDATE: Four deaths and hundreds of people have been injured in the violence in Cairo. Molotov cocktails have been used, shots have been fired, and crowds attacked Western Journalists, beating a Canadian television cameraman severely .****
I am always amazed by the speed at which change occurs when there is no other alternative possible.
Such is the case in the Arab world, where quantum change is taking place.
In Egypt, with the exception of a few ugly-natured Mubarak supporters riding camels and horses, into crowds, viciously beating and intimidating innocent protesters with sticks and whips as might be expected, Hosni Mubarak is supposed to be in retreat, encouraged by the Egyptian revolution and little other choice. Why would any sane observer be surprised to see intimidation and violence by Mubarak supporters? Instead, it appears that pro-Mubarak support and demonstrations and clashes between the two groups have been orchestrated and encouraged.
Tunisia is also in turmoil, the President was forced into exile with his treasures and not much other choice, so it is little wonder President Ali Abdullah Saleh of Yemen is also suddenly taking pre-emptive and creative steps to remove himself from power. Is he removing himself from mortal danger too? After three decades of dictatorship, President Saleh has announced his departure. The people have spoken, the writing is on the wall, so yet another dictatorship will fall ‘willingly’.
President Saleh has pledged that he will not seek re-election --and also vowed that his son Ahmed, who leads military special forces and the presidential guard, will not inherit the powerful position. Both pledge and vow are convenient and timely.
It takes little imagination to explain Saleh’s sudden urgency for change; revolt is at hand, the government of Yemen is rife with corruption, the nation has been dependent upon shrinking oil production for revenue, and little if any of the income from that oil has ended up in the hands of the people. Half of the population of Yemen subsists on less than $2.00 per day, infrastructure for roads and sanitation is marginal or sub-standard, and unemployment is the norm, as unrest blooms like a desert receiving the blessing of seven days of rain. Saleh has happily and boldly proclaimed a 50% income tax cut. It is a nice promise and a creative tactic to stall for time, Mr. President.
In the presence of such extreme economic disparity, one might easily wonder if a dictator’s accumulated wealth is best removed quickly to avoid confiscation, a la’ Saddam Hussein -- when hanging also may be both convenient and inevitable?
“But father, I wish to inherit the kingdom and rule the people just as you have”
“Let us leave now, son, we finally have it all, and the natives are restless... ”
The “timely” evacuation of dictators is not unknown to the rest of the world. If you are about to be hung, drawn and quartered, or run out of town on an rail anyway, it is beneficial to do anything to delay action, pretend happiness, lead the parade in style, and clutch the strings of the golden purse tightly in both hands on the way out.
“Time to leave. What did you expect, Mr. President"? Just as it did in Iraq, the truth always comes out.