Unrest in Egypt
Three years ago I lived in Alexandria for a month and taught admiralty law. Since my classes were at night, I spent most of the day wandering around the city and talking to people. (There’s really nothing to do in Alexandria other than sit in cafes and look at the water.) The poverty in the city was clear, but what even more striking was how angry folks were at the regime. As an American living there, I assumed that people would want to talk to me about Iraq or President Bush. Instead, everyone wanted to talk about the corruption of President Mubarak and especially his son Gamal. There was a sense of desperation; of people who wanted to get out; who had no hope. This was in sharp contrast to my students, who were extraordinarily nice but clearly came from the elite in society that was connected to the State. They had family vacation homes on the beach and luxury cars. Life was good.
I came away from that experience with the strong feeling that the country would blow up soon. I thought it would be when Mubarak died, but the time is now. It would be tempting to say that the Great Recession is the cause. The trouble is that the Arab world has been in a great recession for decades.