The end of the Mubarak regime in Egypt is likely to have a much larger impact on the region than the end of the regime in Tunisia, according to MEC International. Three countries on which the spotlight has fallen are Algeria, Yemen and Libya. The first two have already witnessed protests, although Yemeni attachment to the mildly narcotic Qat, means that most protestors have tended to pack up at midday to go off and chew it. On that basis, say MEC, none of these three countries at present looks likely to go the same way, although analysts have to hedge their bets.
In Algiers police prevented celebrations of the fall of Mubarak on 11 February and are being deployed this morning, (12 February) to prevent a planned anti-government rally, banned under the state of emergency. We circulate below a further comment by a former Conservative MP, Olga Maitland, now chairwoman of the Algeria British Business Council.
In Yemen around 3,000 people took part in a “Friday of rage” demonstration in Aden and other southern towns on 11 February calling for “revolution for the South” but were dispersed by security forces. So far protesters in Sanaa and separatists in the north and south have not found common cause. In Libya there was some civil disturbance last month on a specific issue about housing, but it did not spark anything wider. We circulate below a report about plans for a “day of rage” on 17 February, the anniversary of disturbances in Benghazi in 2006 in which a number of people were killed.
Olga Maitland, Chair of the Algeria British Council writes:
Regarding the Saturday demonstration in Algiers , do follow events carefully. There is plenty of space for a major demo. In fact they will be meeting in 1st May Square and then proceeding to the Place des Martyrs (very symbolic for all those who died in the War of Independence and the Civil War). There will be 20,000 police to block all the street approaches…. Meanwhile the government are trying some appeasement tactics which are minimal and will have no effect at all. My reading is that they are both nervous but also somewhat sanguine that there is no real desire for massive change. ‘People were granted all they wanted after the Civil War’… said a high ranking official to me. Somewhat evading the whole issue. In any case expect a tough crack-down. They have no hesitation in arresting ‘militants’ ie. Any person rioting or demonstrating a real fury. Many are still locked up after regional demos In any case they have continued all last week. In one town, they were workers who had not been paid for months. Take a look at www.TSA-Algerie.com