News / Europe

Europe Watches Arab Protests for Lessons

Thousands of Egyptian anti-Mubarak protesters shout slogans as they take part in a demonstration at Tahrir square in Cairo, Egypt, February 8, 2011
Thousands of Egyptian anti-Mubarak protesters shout slogans as they take part in a demonstration at Tahrir square in Cairo, Egypt, February 8, 2011

Europeans have been closely following anti-government protests in the Arab world with mixed views about their implications back home.  

Just a few months ago, Europe was rocked by popular protests against rising prices, unemployment and austerity measures. Demonstrators took to the streets of Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Spain, Britain and France. Now Europe is watching another set of popular uprisings - in Arab countries like Tunisia, Algeria and Egypt, just across the Mediterranean Sea.

The head of the New York-based Trends Research Institute, Gerald Celente, says what is happening in the Arab world has direct implications in Europe. He believes Arabs and Europeans share the same grievance: the economy.

"Could they care less if it was an autocratic government if people were making money?  Autocrat, dictator, democracy - people could care less, so long as they were doing well," said Celente.

Celente believes the 2010 protests in Europe are just the beginning. He warns the demonstrations washing across North Africa and the Middle East will migrate to Europe.

To be sure, references to the Arab protests can be seen in Europe. Tens of thousands of Serbians rallied Saturday in Belgrade, protesting high prices and unemployment, and calling for early elections. One Serbian opposition-party member said the protests in Tunisia and Egypt sent a message to all governments to listen to their people.

In Italy, a software hacking group called "Anonymous" attacked the Italian government website Sunday to protest its policies. The cyber attack was similar to those it had launched in Egypt and Tunisia.

But the Brussels director of the French Institute for International Relations, Olivier Jehin, doubts Europe will see more widespread protests.

"I think the main austerity measures have been taken last year," said Jehin. "Probably there could be some new demonstrations in a few countries, but it will not take the same importance as in North Africa, except perhaps for some specific countries in the Balkans."

Research fellow Rime Allaf, of the London-based policy institute Chatham House, also warns against comparing European and Arab protest movements.

"Yes, there are great causes of discontent in Europe," said Allaf, "however this would be forgetting that one major component of the revolts in the Arab world and the uprising is not just economic, but very importantly, it is political."

Allaf said that however imperfect European democracies are, they do not deny freedom of expression as do a number of autocratic Arab governments. Nor does she believe, as some analysts suggest, that the Arab world is going through its own version of the fall of communism in eastern Europe.

"The fall of the Berlin wall was the fall of an entire ideology that was running those regimes, which was communism," she added. "In the Arab world, it is not a single ideology that has been ruling - these 22 Arab countries."

Critics like Allaf say that perhaps the main fallout of Arab protests in Europe is the failure of its foreign policy.

"By claiming they were pushing democracy, but when push came to shove not ready to allow people in," said Allaf. "The Arab world to have the same rights as their own citizens in the West."

So today, some analysts say, the main lesson Europe can draw from the Arab street is to listen to it.

 

NEW: Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter
and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

US Urges Restraint in Hong Kong Protests

Protesters angered by Beijing's decision to only approve candidates that it sanctions for Hong Kong's leadership elections in 2017 More

Archive of Forgotten UCLA Speeches Offers Snapshot of History

Recordings of prominent voices in social change, politics, science and literature from 1960s, early 1970s now available on YouTube More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenyai
X
Gabe Joselow
September 29, 2014 6:20 PM
Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Video

Video Reconstruction? What Reconstruction? Life After War in Gaza

It’s been a month since Israel and the Palestinians agreed to a ceasefire to end 52 days of an air and tank war that left 60,000 homes in Gaza damaged or destroyed and 110,000 homeless. Sharon Behn reports that lack of reconstruction is leading to despair.
Video

Video US, Saudi Arabia and UAE Hit Islamic State's Oil Revenue

The United States, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have bombed oil facilities operated by Islamic State militants in Syria. It was a truly collaborative effort, with the two Arab countries dropping the majority of the bombs. The 12 refineries targeted were estimated to generate as much as $2 million per day for the terrorist group. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb has the story.
Video

Video Russia's Food Sanctions Raise Price Worries, Hopes for Domestic Production

Russia retaliated against Western sanctions imposed for its actions in Ukraine by halting food imports from the West. The temporary import ban on food from Australia, the European Union, Norway and North America has Russian consumers concerned that they could face a sharp increase in food prices. But in an ironic twist, the restrictions aimed at the Kremlin have made Russia's domestic food producers hopeful this can boost their business. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Washington to Pyongyang: 'Shut This Evil System Down'

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is calling on North Korea to shut down prison camps and other human rights abuses following a United Nations Commission of Inquiry into "widespread and systematic human rights violations." VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid