Two factors make Egypt different from Tunisia. First, Tunisia's government spent generously on education, helping to establish the country's middle class above many of its regional counterparts. The frustration of an educated but unemployed population was key to Tunisia's revolt. (It was also key to the vast post-election crisis that overwhelmed Iran's streets two years ago.) Egypt has allowed spending on education to decay over the decades — some analysts attributing that to a conscious calculation on Mubarak's part.
In Egypt, teacher salaries are so low that it's common for students to pay for private tutorials (often from the same teachers), and social critics have lamented that poor education has deprived generations of the skills needed to think critically — and to dissent. "The 80 million people have no power, no knowledge, and they are not organized," one of Egypt's most outspoken social critics, feminist writer Nawal el-Saadawi, remarked last year. "Change the education. Work on the mind of the people. There is no mind here."
The other factor is the Army. In Tunisia, at a critical turning point, the Army took the side of the protesters in the street: it refused to fire on demonstrators. In Egypt, however, the military stands with Mubarak. The Interior Ministry, which runs the police, stands with Mubarak. Mubarak knows better than to falter on security, Egyptians say. "The government here is stronger than it was in Tunisia — that's why people are scared," says one Cairene citizen. "The jails are for people who protest these days. No one demands their rights anymore."
OK, crazy video, eh? I was thinking: So what if Egyptian Government controls the military, etc, but what can they do if they are clearly overwhelmed by street protesters? Yeah, exactly.
But that hasn't fully happened yet. No regime change and/or revolution yet. And as Goldberg reminds us on his blog today:
1) It's not yet a revolution. It might become one, but one of the reasons I haven't blogged much about this (apart from the snow-related loss of power) is that I have no idea which way this is going to go. I don't believe the Mubarak regime is going to give up power as easily as the Tunisians, for what it's worth. Although that can change very quickly.
And I agree. There is no January 25th Revolution... just an attempt at one.