One view on the meaning of the Arab revolt

Like many Americans, if not most, I’ve been captivated with all the news of the “revolution” that is now roiling Egypt and much of the rest of the Arab world. But what’s it all mean for rest of us, for the humanosphere?

Protesters in Cairo

There’s plenty of opinion, hand-wringing and alarmist commentary out there. But I thought this op-ed by Bassam Hassad, a Middle East expert at George Mason University and Georgetown University, was especially interesting and thought-provoking.

Writing in Al Jazeera, Hassad says most people still don’t get it:

A deluge of analysis pervades the Arab, American, European, and other presses around the world. Much of it is on point, and some of it is actually illuminating even to seasoned observers, politicians, and educators. But the bigger picture regarding the disruption of the balance of power in the region — the elephant in the room — has received short shrift at the same time that it explains the reactions of various regional and international players.

It’s impossible to predict where this is all headed, Hassad writes, but he says one thing is clear:

For nearly a century, Egypt has been the lynchpin of both stability and upheaval in the Arab world, a model and pioneer in terms of development, state-led growth, and reform, however imperfect all have been. As the largest and most powerful Arab state, the cultural mecca of the Arab world speaks to more than Egypt.

Whenever its foundations are shaken, they send palatable shockwaves throughout the Arab world and beyond: if Egypt can no longer be the horse that America, Israel, and conservative Arab regimes can bet on, all such players will have to undergo some serious recalculation….

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Tom Paulson

Tom Paulson is founder and lead journalist at Humanosphere. Prior to operating this online news site, he reported on science,  medicine, health policy, aid and development for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Contact him at tom[at]humanosphere.org or follow him on Twitter @tompaulson.