First it was Tunisia. Today it was Egypt, where the government insisted that they absolutely were not the next Tunisia. Clearly, they were wrong. But who is next? There are plenty of bets on that, and plenty of governments insisting that it won’t be them.
The possibilities literally span the entire Muslim world. From Morocco in the far west of Africa to the US-backed government in Pakistan, people are riled up and their rulers are insisting that their situations, with an angry population seeking more freedom and less unemployment, is somehow so different from the situation everywhere else that the comparison is ridiculous.
There are some obvious situations, as in Sudan or Yemen, where the opposition to the president-for-life model is pretty straightforward. But even in nations with fairly recent regime changes like Pakistan and Iraq, the hope for change is palpable.
Indeed, there seems to be a sense of jealousy in Baghdad, which saw massive deaths and a US occupation as their path toward regime change, and is now watching Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki consolidate power at an alarming rate. Though analysts say it is unlikely Iraqis will take to the streets (particularly with 50,000 US troops still on hand to prop up Maliki), the resentment is growing.
Even in Iraqi Kurdistan, the “good part” of Iraq, the opposition Gorran Party is calling for resignations and reforms in the regional government, and likening the situation in the region to that in Egypt.
The question “is this Egypt” will be one invariably asked when governments face resentment, and the answer “no” will undoubtedly always be given. But with the world transfixed it seems the reality is that there is at least a little bit of Egypt everywhere.