I was not present in Egypt yesterday, June 30, but I watched some of the wall-to-wall broadcasts on Egyptian television of packed squares and streets across the country, of gesticulating orators, defensive government spokesmen, and articulate commentators. The demonstrations across the country were, by consensus estimates, 7 to 10 times larger than the biggest anti-Mubarak crowds in early 2011. They dwarfed street rebellions such other those in Iran in 1979 or Peking in 1989. Simply put, they were probably the largest political demonstration in human history.Sponsored Ads
Iron Fist is one of the latest signs that Japan’s anxiety about China’s insistent claims over disputed islands as well as North Korea’s escalating nuclear threats are pushing Japanese leaders to shift further away from the nation’s postwar pacifism.
The new assertiveness has been particularly apparent under the new prime minister, Shinzo Abe, a conservative who has increased military spending for the first time in 11 years. With China’s maritime forces staging regular demonstrations of their determination to control disputed islands in the East China Sea and North Korea’s new leader issuing daily proclamations against the United States and its allies, Mr. Abe’s calls for a bolder, stronger military are getting a warmer welcome in Japan than similar efforts in the past.
“This is a very serious rethink of Japan’s security,”…
The Palestinian leadership is hoping that anti-US demonstrations and uprisings will scare Obama and force him to exert even more pressure on Israel.
There are many signs that the Palestinian Authority is seeking to escalate tensions in the West Bank ahead of US President Barack Obama’s visit to the region next month.
Although the Palestinian Authority probably does not want an all-out confrontation between Palestinians and Israelis at this stage, some Palestinian Authority officials in Ramallah believe that a “mini-intifada” would serve the Palestinians’ interests, especially on the eve of Obama’s visit.
The officials hope that scenes of daily clashes between Israeli soldiers and Palestinians in the West Bank will prompt Obama to exert pressure on the Israeli government to make far-reaching concessions to the Palestinian Authority.
I was in Xuzhou, a city in China’s coastal province of Jiangsu, on September 16, 2012. While walking in the largest public square of the city, I saw young people gathering from different directions. They soon formed a large crowd of a few hundred people and began to march along the main street of Xuzhou. In fact, visitors to China that weekend could see a similar scene in over one hundred Chinese cities. The anti-Japan demonstrations occurred following Japan’s decision to buy the disputed islands in the East China Sea. Holding banners and flags that they had prepared earlier, the crowds in front of me began to shout slogans. Suddenly, I heard them shouted something very familiar to me: “Wuwang Guochi!”
The English translation of the Chinese phrase “Wuwang Guochi” is “Never forget national humiliation.” It is the title of the book that I have just published. In this book, I refer to it as the “national phrase” of China. The Chinese characters associated with this motto are engraved on monuments and painted on walls all over China. For the Chinese, historical consciousness has been powerfully influenced by the so-called “century of humiliation” from the First Opium War (1839-1842) through the end of the Sino-Japanese War in 1945. The Chinese remember this period as a time when their nation was attacked, bullied, and torn asunder by imperialists.
Headquarters of the Muslim Brotherhood’s political front, the Freedom and
Justice Party, were ransacked and burned in Alexandria, Port Said and
Ismailiya. Protesters described Mr Morsi as “Egypt’s new pharaoh” and said
his declaration on Thursday night was a “constitutional coup”.
In Cairo, the biggest demonstrations for months filled Tahrir Square, reviving
the spirit and chants of last year’s revolution against the country’s former
leader, ex-President Hosni Mubarak. “Out, out,” the crowd chanted. The
people want the downfall of the regime.”
Mr Morsi publicly defended his decision to make his decrees unchallengeable by
law as necessary to complete Egypt’s transformation. He told a crowd of
supporters gathered in front of the presidential palace that he was trying
to stop a “minority” trying to “block the revolution”.
Japan’s “purchase” and “nationalization” of China’s Diaoyu Islands is putting China-Japan economic and trade ties at risk due to man-made factors.
Despite repeated protests from Beijing, Japan launched its unilateral move to “purchase” the Diaoyu Islands, which are Chinese territories, on Sept. 10 this year.
The move not only ruined the political basis for China-Japan relations, but also greatly harmed Chinese people’s feelings. It was not in line with the overall situation of bilateral relations highlighting peaceful development, and it ignited demonstrations across China.
Unfortunately, however, there is a real danger that the rapid growth of the region may be threatened by growing nationalism, complicated by muscle flexing by China, which is clearly on the rise economically and militarily.
The dangers were illustrated by the recent visits, or invasions, depending on your point of view, by small groups of hotheaded but well-organized nationalists to isolated rocky Senkaku Islands (called Diaoyu by China) in the East China Sea.
Japan’s ejection and deportation of the Hong Kong Chinese sparked a patriotic outcry throughout China, with demonstrations in a dozen cities. Televised pictures of a Chinese police car being overturned and bashed by mobs in the city of Shenzhen just over the border from Hong Kong puzzled my Japanese friends until they understood that it was a Japanese car and realized how serious the situation was.
The outpouring of public anger is emblematic of the rising discontent facing Chinese leaders, who are obsessed with maintaining stability and struggling to balance growth with rising public anger over environmental threats.
Such protests “suggest that the middle class, whose members seemed willing to accept in the 1990s that being able to buy more things equaled having a better life, is now wondering whether one’s quality of life has improved, if you have to worry about breathing the air, drinking the water, and whether the food you’re eating is safe,” said Jeffrey Wasserstrom, of the University of California Irvine.
The protest followed similar demonstrations against projects the Sichuan town of Shifang earlier this month and in the cities of Dalian in the northeast and Haimen in southern Guangdong province in the past year.
Two other constrained dictatorships, Russia and China, want to keep Assad in power. Both shudder at a fellow totalitarian regime falling to a disorganized opposition. They will abandon him (with great fanfare) only when it is clear that he has lost. China and Russia have their own disaffected minorities, disgruntled workers, and ideological opponents. Their one-party states lack legitimacy, and they know it. They consider themselves under constant threat, fearing the single spark that brings millions to the streets. They must snuff out any spark — a lone barefoot lawyer or an 18 year old girl throwing a rock at security forces – that could conceivably ignite a Tahrir Square.
Russia and China’s one-party dictatorships face different threats. China’s Communist Party (CPC) must firefight grievance demonstrations. Putin, on the other hand, must confront direct challenges to his legitimacy.
And Putin’s return to the Stalinist practice of sending police to search opponents’ homes, combined with his attempts to ignite hostility between social groups – for example, between provincial Russia and the urban middle class – is deepening antagonism and distrust among citizens. In this way, Putin’s regime intensifies political dissenters’ longing for retaliation – thereby hindering peaceful change.
Already, longstanding tensions have begun to boil over; tens of thousands of people have taken to the streets since Putin’s 2011 announcement that he would reclaim the presidency. His return to the Kremlin has incited some of the largest protests that Moscow has seen since the 1990’s. And, while popular demonstrations have diminished – largely as a result of draconian new anti-protest laws – the more conflict accumulates beneath the surface, the more devastating the eventual explosion will be.
By censoring the media, discrediting moderate opposition, and provoking popular discontent, Putin is playing with fire. It is impossible to predict when Russia will detonate, but the system’s fissures are undeniable – and growing.
Pressure is building in Russia toward revolution. The timing is impossible to know, but the direction is clear. Putin is in trouble.