Special Sub-Topic: A Modern Revolution: Egypt's Ousting of Mubarak
|The spark that set the Arab world into a fervor in 2011 was said to begin with Mohamed Bouazizi, a 26-year-old man who set himself on fire after the produce he was selling was confiscated because he did not have a permit. The act of desperation eventually led to revolution in that nation, deposing of autocrat Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and inspiring opposition movements in Egypt. In which nation did these events take place?|
Tunisia. Bouazizi eventually died from his self-immolation, though not before President Ben Ali visited him in the hospital. The visit was considered to be a public relations spectacle and a slap in the face to those who used Bouazizi's example as a rallying cry. Copycats emerged and soon the people of Tunisia took to the streets, eventually gaining popular support within the army.
Ben Ali was forced to flee the nation in humiliation on January 14, 2011. Events in this small African country set off a shockwave in the region which would eventually make its way to the Arab world's most populous and influential nation, Egypt.
|Engineering a truly modern revolution, one of the most important tools of the opposition movements in Egypt was the use of various social media. Websites such as Facebook and Twitter allowed young and tech-savvy Egyptians the ability to organize and inform others of their intentions to take to the streets. The first of many mass protests was closely watched by the world and one could follow all of the events taking place in several Egyptian cities by following #Egypt and what other popular Twitter hashtag? |
#jan25. While "green" might have been a good hashtag for Iran's 2009 Green Revolution and "jasmine" could have been used for Tunisia's 2010-2011 Jasmine Revolution, "jan25" was one of the rallying cries for Egyptian Internet enthusiasts. The hashtag was a simple means to an end (that is to get Egyptians to the streets on January 25, the start of the revolution), but the tag remained as a Twitter mantra over the nearly three weeks that Egyptian protesters struggled.
|On January 25, when opposition parties began their street protests, many in the world didn't believe they would produce lasting results and that they would be squashed. Indeed, police squads loyal to Mubarak also took to the streets, deploying tear gas, rubber bullets, and water hoses. In widely circulated images, what controversial phrase was printed on many of the tear gas canisters?|
"Made in U.S.A.". The images were uncomfortable (to say the least) to U.S. authorities and offered a reminder as to why the country was unpopular in the region. The U.S. had provided several billion dollars in military aid to Egypt for three decades, mainly in accordance with keeping the peace with Egypt's neighbor, Israel. This military assistance was apparently also provided in the form of riot control equipment.
The U.S. position on the events during the Egyptian revolution was crafted with great care not to give the appearance of meddling in foreign affairs. President Obama and other world leaders often called for progress in instituting democratic reform and pleaded for all parties to refrain from violence.
|Protests were seen across the great nation of Egypt in cities ranging from Alexandria to Suez, Aswan to Mansoura, but it was in the capital of Cairo that the largest gatherings could be found. In a sign of symbolic hope, Egyptians gathered in what city square, which shares its name with the Arabic word for "liberation"?|
Tahrir Square. Officially named following the 1952 Egyptian Revolution, Tahrir Square swarmed with Egyptian protesters in 2011, all hoping to live up to the square's name. It was here that thousands would gather day after day, or perhaps would even set up camp in order to avoid traveling from the square and back home each night. Makeshift checkpoints were set up to limit weapons brought into the square, a task which the military later commandeered.
In the end, when Mubarak finally gave up the presidency, the protesters in Tahrir Square rejoiced and the mass protests became mass celebrations.
|News coverage of the protests in Egypt was censored profusely by the Mubarak regime, and Egypt's State TV often presented its viewers with tranquil cityscapes and pro-Mubarak messages. What Mubarak-censored Arabic news outlet (based in Qatar) juxtaposed those serene shots with footage of massive crowds and several examples of anti-Mubarak rhetoric?|
Al Jazeera. Al Jazeera played a large role in broadcasting the Egyptian revolution to the world. Many of its reporters were harassed and interrogated by Mubarak's forces, and the station was banned from further transmitting, having to close its offices in Cairo.
The network continued to broadcast to the rest of the world, however, and there were several calls in the U.S. and other countries for their television providers to carry the network or its English counterpart. Many believe that Al Jazeera's reporting helped expose the brutality of the Mubarak regime during the protests, throwing the public support of many nations behind the people in the streets.
|After several days of uprising, Egyptian police forces were driven back by the sheer number of protesters in the streets. Some hypothesized that decreased police presence was a tactic used by Mubarak, who was attempting to create a chaotic situation. He would then look like a savior by subduing the disorder by directing the Egyptian army to take control of the streets. For the most part, the military remained neutral between the pro- and anti-Mubarak forces, declaring to the relief of many that they would NOT do what?|
Fire on the protesters. It became clear that the Egyptian military was not an entity one hundred percent loyal to the Mubarak regime. Even though the military profited greatly over the years he was president, the military stated clearly that it would not open fire on the protesters in the streets, giving Mubarak one less tool in his strategic arsenal of quelling the rebellion.
The military by no means promised not to take control of the government, and in fact they did just that after Mubarak's retirement, the president having relinquished his power to them. During the protests, the military also tended to play the role of the nation's police force, incarcerating looters, and trying to maintain order, though without forcing protesters from the streets.
|Though younger, technologically-versed idealists first started the ball rolling on Egypt's street protests, it soon became clear that the opposition movement would need support from sources with more infrastructure and stature if it were to survive. One figurehead who endorsed the protests was Nobel-prize winner and former IAEA director Mohamed ElBaradei, though some saw his involvement as opportunistic. Another boost of support came from what group, which served as a bogeyman to some Westerners who were afraid it might seize power?|
Muslim Brotherhood. The Muslim Brotherhood endorsed the protests soon after they began when the organization realized it was possible that the demonstrations could have some effect. It gave the movement some legitimacy amongst the Egyptian people, though the group was careful to declare its intentions to be secular and not religious. Nonetheless, concern over a theocratic takeover expressed by some Western nations led the Muslim Brotherhood to proclaim that they would not field a candidate in the much-anticipated upcoming elections.
|Mubarak attempted to appease the people of Egypt on several occasions by offering limited concessions, one of which was appointing a vice president for the first time in his thirty-year autocratic rule. What Egyptian figure did he choose?|
Omar Suleiman, Chief of Intelligence. The measure of appointing a vice president hardly convinced the demonstrators that Mubarak was doing little other than shuffling his current administration in an attempt to appear as though he was putting forward reform. Indeed, the majority of the protests demanded that only Mubarak's resignation would be sufficient.
Omar Suleiman appeared on state television several times to address the Egyptian people and ask them to cease assembling. His pleas were felt by many to be patronizing, and the protesters continued to gather in the streets in ever stronger numbers.
|In an emotional sign of historic and national pride, patriotic Egyptian demonstrators pulled together and formed a human chain to protect which of the following Egyptian buildings?|
Egyptian National Museum. Of the choices, only the Egyptian National Museum would have been worth protecting to the protesters, and by touchingly forming a human chain, they demonstrated that they wanted a peaceful transition to democracy, not anarchical chaos. Even with the protesters' efforts, the museum was looted and lost some irreplaceable relics, though much less than could have been stolen.
|Mubarak finally left office on February 11, 2011. Appointing a vice president was only one of many "reforms" he put in place as a peace offering to the demonstrators calling for his removal. None of his efforts worked, though, and finally he passed the powers of his office off to a military-controlled council. Which of the following did Mubarak NOT do in his feeble attempts to appease the protesters?|
Replace the top military commanders. Though the Egyptian military and its government did much business, the two entities were relatively independent from one another. Mubarak would have very little authority to replace any military figure, especially top commanders.
It was likely that with Mubarak's waning control over the country, the military to which he relinquished his powers had asked him (ever so sternly) to offer his resignation. Indeed, it was a surprise to some of the military leaders in Egypt when the day before Mubarak resigned fully, he insisted he would never leave the post. The next day, the former president had resigned and was on a plane to the resort town of Sharm el-Sheik where his villa was located.
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