Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Internet and Events in Egypt

Meredith's post noted the Internet's role in launching the events in Egypt. The Committee to Protect Journalists offers a graphic illustration of what happened when the Egyptian government flipped its Internet kill switch (click image for large view):

Arbor Network's traffic analysis for Egypt

National Journal reports that the WikiLeaks document dump played a part in launching the uprising:

The toppling of Saddam Hussein in 2003 and America’s much-bedeviled efforts to install democracy in Iraq certainly worried Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and other Arab autocrats, who were uneasy about George W. Bush’s much-touted “model” for the Arab world. But these leaders are much less disturbed by that nearly eight-year effort than by a few weeks of spontaneous popular eruption in Tunisia, which has now spread to the cities of Egypt and Yemen.

And although the democratic uprising in Tunisia was mostly generated by 20 years of brutality and corruption under the rule of President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, it appears very likely that last year's WikiLeaks cable dump helped to light the spark.

The Tunisian protests began among largely college-educated students who had heard about the details of ostentatious high living revealed in disapproving cables from U.S. Ambassador Robert Godec; he had written that “corruption in the inner circle is growing” and that Ben Ali “and his regime have lost touch with the Tunisian people.”

According to on-the-ground accounts from the Associated Press and other new organizations, many Tunisians felt vindicated by the details revealed in the leaked cables, which social networks helped to spread. Other U.S. diplomatic cables have exposed double-dealing by Yemen's leader, who now faces his own revolt.

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