- Washington Post says Obama administration is fumbling the ball on Egypt but thinks the White House & State Department “could still get it right”
- Israeli intelligence expert on wave of instability in the Mideast: “We’re living on a volcano”
- Double-digit inflation — especially “record high” increases in food prices in Egypt last year — fueling public outrage and protests, aside from concerns about government corruption, democracy, etc.
- Record food prices inflame poor in Egypt — “Higher commodity prices were ‘leading to riots, demonstrations and political instability,’ said New York University economics professor Nouriel Roubini. ‘It’s really something that can topple regimes.'”
- Explosions, Gunfire Heard in Cairo as Protesters Defy Curfew
- Iran cleric: Mideast unrest replay of our 1979 Islamic revolution
- Mubarak trying to crush opposition — puts Nobel laureate who has been the voice of pro-freedom forces under house arrest
- Cairo scene of violent chaos as protests escalate
- VP Biden says Egypt’s Mubarak no dictator, he shouldn’t step down
- U.N. rights chief says Egypt has arrested 1,000
- Curfew imposed, Egyptian army deployed
- Arab world unrest has Jordan’s king under pressure
- Thousands in Jordan protest, demand PM step down
Is Egypt about to erupt in a full-blown revolution that could lead to the fall of the Mubarak regime? Might Jordan’s government be next?
One thing’s for certain: no one predicted the demonstrations in Egypt would grow so big so fast. Momentum for the protests is growing. A Facebook page promoting the democracy protests grew from 20,000 members on Wednesday to 80,000 on Thursday. The government then reportedly shut down Facebook, and disrupted internet service in parts of the country. Twitter has been blocked. Police are beating protesters.
One key factor few are seeing at the moment: economics. Egyptians are suffering double-digit inflation and record food prices in recent years, and particularly in 2010. Most people are already dirt poor. Soaring food prices are causing them to fear they may not be able to feed their families. This is creating a “perfect storm” of anger against the Mubarak regime — it’s corrupt, authoritarian, anti-human rights, and resistant to all positive economic and political reform. It’s been bad for the thirty years Mubarak has been in power. But with high inflation, especially for food, Egyptians are being pushed over the brink.
Calls for Mubarak to step down growing. “Mohamed ElBaradei, the former head of the U.N. nuclear watchdog turned Egyptian reform campaigner, said he expected big demonstrations across Egypt on Friday, and that it was time for President Hosni Mubarak to go,” reported Reuters. “ElBaradei, 68, left Vienna, where he lives, for Cairo on Thursday to join a growing wave of protests against Mubarak inspired by Tunisia’s overthrow of their authoritarian president. He told Reuters he would not lead the street rallies, but that his role was ‘to manage the change politically.'” On Friday, however, ElBaradei was placed under house arrest in Egypt.
In my 2009 non-fiction book, Inside The Revolution, I described Mubarak as a “classic Resister” — he doesn’t want real change of any kind. He just wants to retain power, keep things stable, keep wealth and power for himself, and pass the keys to the kingdom on to his son, Gamal. But such resistance to positive change is inflaming the “rank-and-file,” every day Egyptians who feel increasingly desperate, and see others in the region (Tunisians, Iraqis, and the people of southern Sudan) as changing their governments and having more say in the affairs of state. They are yearning for something better, and now they’ve taken to the streets in hopes of getting it.
Meanwhile, protests have mounted in recent days in Jordan. Reports the AP: “The economy saw a record deficit of $2 billion this year, inflation rising…to 6.1 percent just last month and rampant unemployment and poverty — estimated at 12 and 25 percent respectively. ‘The government buys cars and spends lavishly on its parties and travel, while many Jordanians are jobless or can barely put food on their tables to feed their hungry children,’ said civil servant Mahmoud Thiabat, 31, a father of three who earns $395 a month.”
In Egypt, I don’t see the protests being driven primarily by the Muslim Brotherhood (which started in Egypt in the 1920s) or by Radicals in general, though they’re certainly trying to take advantage. This would be a nightmare scenario we need to pray never happens. We don’t want this to be another Iranian Revolution where an Islamic Radical madman takes over. If Mubarak falls, we want to see a group of pro-democracy, pro-free market, serious Reformers come to power. In Jordan, there is a very high risk that Islamic Radicals would take over the regime. As I write in Inside The Revolution, “It is precisely because the Jordanians have made such progress [with positive political and economic reforms in the past two decades] that I am worried by the Radicals’ determination to launch a jihad there, seize the capital, and create a new anti-Israel, anti-Western base for Iran and al Qaeda. Therefore, I often pray for Jordan’s peace, prosperity and continued progress. I pray for King Abdullah’s health and safety, and I pray that the Lord would grant him the wisdom to know how best to move forward in such challenging times.”
Please keep praying for Egypt’s 80 million people — for freedom, for safety, for courage, and for the gospel to be spread to an entire nation desperately needing God’s love and plan for their lives.
Pray, too, for the people of Jordan and all the nations of the region as instability rises rapidly.
Note: For the past several years, The Joshua Fund has been supporting ministry leaders and projects in Egypt and Jordan to share the gospel, make disciples and strengthen the Church. Please pray these investments would be fruitful, and please help us if you can.