Rebellions in Tunisia, Egypt and Lybia share one thing in common. It is the fact that the regimes have shown some but not sufficient development. It is regimes emerging out of extreme poverty. This development was in between that in which the whole society sliding backward (as we have seen since 1990’s in the former USSR), and dynamic overall development, for example Iraq during the Saddam Hussein years. It is a type of development where a country emerging from era of colonial rule attempts to walk a tightrope between imperialism of the West and Stalinism of the Soviet block.
Annual GDP growth has averaged 5 percent (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:GDP_PIB_tunisia.svg ).
Iran news, http://www.payvand.com/news/11/feb/1080.html writes: “Tunisia has better ranking in GDP per capita, Human Development Index (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_development_index ), inflation rate, population below poverty line, literacy rate and corruption index than Egypt, Algeria and Yemen. Even in all of these indicators, except GDP and literacy rate, Tunisia is better or almost equal to South Africa and Turkey. Also the unemployment rate in Tunisia, considering the situation in some developed countries like Spain, is not drastically high. Thus, in general, it can be claimed that the economic problems in Tunisia could not be the main fuel of rage to topple the regime.
The source of revolutionary energy was epitomized by Mohamed Bouazizi, who aspired to go to a university, became a street vendor, and couldn’t be even that, because the police confiscated his cart and humiliated him (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mohamed_Bouazizi ). According to his sister, “In Sidi Bouzid, those with no connections and no money for bribes are humiliated and insulted and not allowed to live".
According to “Foreign Policy”, (http://mideast.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2011/01/02/tunisia_s_protest_wave_where_it_comes_from_and_what_it_means_for_ben_ali ) “The prevailing culture holds up university education as the key to security and social advancement. However, universities do not produce young people with training that meets the needs of an economy that depends on low-skilled jobs in tourism and clothing manufacturing. This mismatch between education and expectations on the one hand, and the realities of the marketplace on the other, generates serious frustrations for young people who invested in university educations but cannot find commensurate work. The challenge is particularly dire for young people in the interior. While estimates of national unemployment range from 13 to 16 percent, unemployment among university graduates in Sidi Bouzid ranges between 25 and 30 percent”.
“Cliodynamics”, http://cliodynamics.ru/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=276&Itemid=70 , writes: “Economic growth rates were high (even in the crisis years). Poverty and inequality levels were among the lowest in the Third World. Global food prices were rising, but the government was taking serious measures to mitigate their effect on the poorest layers of the population. Unemployment level (in per cent) was less than in many developed countries of the world and, moreover, was declining, and so were population growth rates”.
However, similarly to Tunisia, Egypt has a large number of young people without work. And many of these are college educated: “the investigation carried out at the end of 2010 by the Egyptian Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics discovered that at the eve of the Revolution more than 43% of the Egyptian unemployed had university degrees! Thus, the impact force of the 2011 Egyptian Revolution was not only young, but also very highly educated”. Young, educated, unemployed – that’s the portrait of a revolutionary.
Cliodynamics adds: “the Egyptian Revolution 2011 would hardly have acquired its scale if its protest base had been limited to unemployed highlyeducated youth. The youths were supported by millions of Egyptians (of various age, occupation, and education level) who found themselves below the poverty line as a result of world food price growth (despite all the serious countermeasures undertaken by Mubarak’s administration). Namely this combination created the socially explosive material necessary for the revolution”.
Lybia developed during the Gaddafi era. Average life span increased from 51 to 74 years. Infant mortality dropped 9 times. During more than 40 years of his reign (1969-2011), the population of Lybia increased 3 times.
“The Arabic revolutions have largely been a revolt by the young, who have made clear they are no longer willing to live in a climate of corruption, repression and hopelessness…