Wednesday, September 12, 2012

What Juan Cole says 

When things are going wrong in the Middle East, I always check on what Juan Cole says about it to gain some perspective on how serious it really is:
What happened in Benghazi was the action of a tiny fringe, sort of like Ku Klux Klan violence in the US. It isn’t typical of the new Libya, and Benghazi is not a lawless or militia-ridden city. One of the narratives of what happened there, in fact, is that the police may have been *too* heavy-handed in an attempt to curb the militants’ demonstration, provoking the latter to bring out their one RPG launcher.
The crowds both in Egypt and Libya were tiny. Their militancy is not typical of Egypt or Libya today, both of which are struggling toward more democratic forms of governance. In Cairo, there may have been a failure of policing; police in Egypt feel unfairly demonized because they had been seen as bulwarks of the Mubarak regime, and they often decline to show up to their jobs as a result of this low morale. This police foot-dragging has allowed an increase in petty crime, though Cairo is still far safer than most Western cities.
The government of Egypt is still pretty powerful, and will likely act to curb the militants, as it did in the Sinai recently.

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