This individual—let's call her Meg—was raised in the U.S. but moved to Yemen over a decade ago. She married a Yemeni man, converted to Islam, and has several children. She lives on the outskirts of a large city. I asked her:
One question people are asking here is how connected (or independent) all of these national struggles are from one another. Some, like Yemen, seem to be about corruption. Some, like Bahrain, seem to be about Shiite vs. Sunni. Some seem to be "bread revolutions."
So they have different causes... but they're all happening together.
Her (lengthy, enlightening) response is below the jump. The Iranian political scientist says the link between the revolutions in the Middle East is technology. Meg-in-Yemen says it's corruption and poverty.
Their answers aren't mutually exclusive...
Meanwhile, hundreds are dead in Libya (Gaddafi's cronies have decided to fight it out), the protesters in Bahrain are still holding steady, and Moroccans (despite predictions to the contrary) are making noise about regime change as well.
Well, people have been encouraged by what happened in Tunisia. The man who started it all was a 24-year-old, educated man who was unemployed. He finished his university and had no way of getting a job. He had applied at the Ministry of Labor and no luck. Then he had to sell fruit and vegetables out of a wheelbarrow. Soon the tax collectors came and took his wheelbarrow away. This man had already had a hard time feeding his family and now he had no way of making any money at all. So he went back to the Min. of Labor and they turned him away.
Feeling useless and fed up, he poured a bottle of petrol on himself and lit himself up in front of the Min of Labor. He was the one who literally struck the match for people to wake up and protest. Their president had been in charge for a very long time and the only people who could get jobs were ones with connections. He was very rich and the people had nothing. Corruption was rampant there. Now he left the country and is in a coma in Saudi Arabia.
Corruption, bribes, taking money from NGOs that try to help and anywhere they can get it is very normal in Arab governments. There are very little to no public services. Unemployment is sky high. And prices have risen like mad.
The govts are doing little to nothing to help the people. They are feeding themselves and to hell with the rest.
In Yemen for example, the literacy rate is 50%. The hospitals are low-standard. There are not enough public schools. There is a lot of corruption in the govt. And there have been few promises kept by the president of 32 years. People want change and they are tired of the same faces telling them to "calm down."
Libya's leader, Gadafi, has been ruling for 42 years. His time is up. 5 million people and everyone is poor where there is so much oil and wealth to be spread around.
Mubarak is worth at least $70 billion. And his people are highly educated, yet are driving taxis and doing low standard services.
Yes. It has been a domino effect. It will continue too. The people have seen results and want a change in the regimes that have rules them for generations.
They want a real democracy. They want to be able to go to the government facilities to get services without having to pay bribes. They want better pay. Education for their children. Welfare systems. Food on their table.
The life here in Yemen is SO different from America. You can't compare it. If someone is too poor to pay their bills, they have to rely on kind people to help them. If you don't have enough money to pay for the hospital after having a baby, they don't let you leave. It only costs 3,000YR, about $15. And some people can't even afford that. The husband has to go out into the street and beg for money to get his wife out of the hospital. I witnessed that myself. People want a change and no corruption.
It is a "virus" spreading throughout the region. That is what Ali Abdullah Saleh, the president of Yemen has said. He is completely right. And it's coming to him. And all of the other countries that have had the same old leaders for too long.