Arab Spring Update: Poll Shows Egyptians Oppose Peace Treaty With Israel; Morocco Reacts to Protests With Bribes (Again)
In Egypt, the military regime has responded to Muslim protests against having a Christian governor who was a senior police officer under Mubarak by suspending him from ruling for three months. There are two dynamics at play: Muslim resistance to being governed by a non-Muslim and the backlash against anyone associated with Mubarak. It is important to realize that Christians also participated in these protests.
In some disappointing news, a new Pew poll shows only 36% of Egyptians want to preserve the peace treaty with Israel and 54 percent want it gone. This contradicts another poll that shows 60 percent want to keep the treaty. The latter one includes the caveat that the treaty is supported if it guarantees the creation of a separate Palestinian state, so that may account for the discrepancy.
The United Arab Emirates have been mostly spared from the Arab Spring so far, except for some vocal demands for democratic reform. The government seems worried still, as it has arrested five pro-reform activists for promoting “acts that threaten state security and public order.”
The Arab Spring has settled down Morocco for now, but protests continued on Sunday. Thousands demonstrated for the release of political prisoners, anti-corruption measures, an independent judicial system, and other improvements but not regime change. The report says that organizers claimed there were 20,000 participants in Casablanca but a reporter put it at half of that. The government has reacted by agreeing to spend $5.4 billion over three years to raise the pay of public sector employees and raising the minimum wage for those in the private sector.
In Bahrain, the crisis with Iran continues to escalate. The Royal Family has expelled an Iranian diplomat for allegedly being linked to a spy cell in Kuwait.
In Saudi Arabia, the Royal Family is still dealing with low but consistent levels of unrest in the Shiite-majority Eastern Province. Two Shiite bloggers have been arrested for their role in protests.
In Yemen, the opposition is warning the Saleh regime that the nearly-finished deal could be scrapped in the wake of renewed violence against protesters. On Wednesday, 12 were killed by gunfire in Sanaa. President Saleh is now refusing to sign the agreement if representatives from Qatar are present at the event but the deal is still expected to be finalized on Saturday.