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Challenges with Democracy within Egypt and Libya

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Egypt is one of the Arab countries which were effectively detribalized. Leaders in Egypt did not depend on support of tribal and clan confederations. Instead, they relied on institutions such as the party system or the military. When these institutions failed, the support declined, and the country’s game was over. Only the army had a continuous support. On the other hand, Libya’s Qaddafi represented the Arab form. He was a tribal leader who continuously talked of pan-Arabic socialism. His Qadhadfa tribe was his main center of support. In 1993, two tribes Warfalla and Magariha planned to overthrow him, as they disliked his tribal government. However, the coup failed since the Qadhadfa was in charge of the air force and managed to bomb all the rebels into submission. Violent crackdowns and protests have kept unfolding in Libya for the last two decades (Badhan, 2010).

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This created an open difference between Libya and Egypt and foretold that the countries might not be getting along well in the future. It was very hard to get information on what was going on in Libya. This was because there were only few journalists in the country attempting to capture everything that happened there. Therefore, the few journalists could not manage to get news from all corners of the world. It took the human rights activists and medical reports to reveal the whole truth of what they discovered in the country (Musbarack, 2010).

Whenever Egyptians rose against the government, the military protected them against violence from any group or the government. On the other hand, whenever Libyans rose against the government, they were cruelly suppressed by the military. This explains the main differences between Libya and Egypt. Egyptian military owns many businesses in the country. In this case, the Egyptians are military’s customers and have to be protected. The military could not afford to kill their own customers. On the other hand, Libya’s economy depended on gas and oil exports. The government was in charge of the exports and the money from these exports. Therefore, neither the military nor the government had an answer for the people. This is the resource curse, which is a classical problem in Libya and other resource-rich developing nations. Government workers in Libya are said to come to work with two coats. They hang one on the door and leave the job wearing the other coat to be seen the next day morning. 

These countries do vary despite the fact that they are all Arab, Muslim, and have a similar geographical location. In comparing the other states to Libya, Egypt appears the closest. Mubarak was in power for 30 years, while Qaddafi was in power for over 40 years already. The two leaders’ similarity was that they both ruled with a metal hand. In Egypt, the situation differed much from Libya, since the Egyptian army was strong and capable of bringing order. They also received social support from the population. The army was strong and pragmatic enough to convince Mubarak to give in even though he was not willing to (Klitgard, 2009).

According to Miguna (2012), the situation was very different in Libya. Unlike Egypt, here the force was marginalized. Qaddafi reshaped his strategies according to his own purpose. It was theoretically done to make sure that no oppositionist could gain power in military, sanctuary, or political domains. Libya also has a different social structure. The tribal-clannish composition determined Qaddafi’s results in his internal strategy. He pursued a perfect strategy of offering the biggest ethnic tribes with the imperfect and temporal admission to power: initially, he favored only one tribe and the moment it gained influence, he began favoring another one. He played out this game very carefully, and this shows why there were no internal forces which could pose any danger to Qaddafi. The situation was dissimilar in Egypt (Miguna, 2012). Mubarak emerged from the military, which was reinforced by the US. Thanks to its army, it could have become a temporary government and assume power peacefully. It would not happen in the same manner in Libya, where there were some problematic conditions (Klitgard, 2009).

Another aspect to keep in mind was the very complicated relationship that Egypt and Libya had experienced with the US. Certainly, both states had had long-lasting leaders in power that the United States had decided to work with. The now retired Egyptian President honorable Hosni Mubarak was in authority for 30 years, and honorable Gadhafi held authority in Libya for above 40 years. However, there was an essential distinction. Whilst Egypt was a serious regional friend of the United States, honorable Gadhafi did not prove to be a reliable mate by any means. All diplomatic relationships had been frozen between Libya and the United States for more than twenty years.

The rift started in the 1970s, when the crowd set on fire the Tripoli American Embassy. This severely tensed relations for a number of years since then. Libyan government was also held accountable for the bombarding of Pan Am Flight 103. However, after the attack of Iraq, Gadhafi opted to return to the diplomatic bench and hand over any strategy for weapons of mass destructions; and in the year 2006, diplomatic associations between the two countries formally restored. It would be unreasonable to argue that those steps were conditioned by the rich resource base in Libya. In fact, very small amount of Libyan oil makes its way to the US. Much of it is sold in Europe. However, there was no concrete reason to believe currently that it would stop flowing. The real issue in these uprisings stands as: what quantities are these leaders enthusiastic to fight over? It appeared Gadhafi was eager to fight to till the end (Branguinsky, 2006).

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Some diplomats and analysts believed Gadhafi’s ejection would be perfect for his people, for the countries whose leaders he had annoyed, and for the United States. Gadhafi's staying in authority did not signify steadiness anymore, they said.

Currently, some wonder if Gadhafi was the Arab equivalent of Nicolae Ceausescu of Romania. As the Berlin Wall came tumbling down, Romania's longtime tyrant was the lone Soviet Bloc leader who terrorized his own people. Ceausescu failed to calm the masses on the place known as Revolution Square. His wife and he were executed by a gunfire squad, sentenced to death by a tribunal.

Variations between Libya Protests and Egypt Protests

The spread of the protest in Egypt that led to the dismissal of its president brought heated debate in the media. The Libyan protest followed almost simultaneously; consequently, there was a diverse change of politics in the region. As anticipated, the protest in Libya ended up in the change of government, as witnessed in Egypt. However, there were several differences between the protests in the two countries. This article expounds on this differences.

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The Libyan protest in 2011 was a result of the coalition between the citizens and the forces of government. The force behind the protest was against the Libyan president Muammar Gaddafi. The protest commenced on February 15, 2011. The Egyptian protest was a result of the reawakening of an uprising that started on January 25, 2011. The protest was characterized by a huge number of demonstrations, rioting, and strikes, as well as fights between the protesters and the government forces that remained loyal to the then president Hosni Mubarak. The protest broke up at once in different cities of Egypt.

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The Libyan protests are related to similar movements in the Middle East and North America. Richard Engel of NBS on February 22 reported that the protest was out of control and could be likened to a war. The uprising, on the one hand, was seen as an effort to reclaim the country from Gadhafi, who was a dictator, On the other hand, Gaddafi himself claimed that it was because of the al-Qaeda and "drugged kids".

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The Egyptian protest was reflected in Tunisia, where the president who had served for a long time was overthrown. The protests in Egypt united millions of people from all walks of life with the aim of overthrowing President Hosni Mubarak.

Current Status

On February 27, the National Libyan Council came up with the idea of uniting the opposition. Rather than attempting to come up with perfect government, they meant to control the resistance between rebels and come up with political opposition to show up for the world. On February 10, 2011, Mubarak addressed the nation formally around the period of an intense military coup. It was the expectation of many that he would announce his resignation, but he instead announced the transfer of presidential powers to his Vice President, Suleiman, as he retained his title as the Head of State of Egypt. The people’s reaction was seen in the increase of protests and their intensity, and by February 11, 2011, Mubarak's resignation was officially announced by Suleiman (Huntington, 2000).

Similarities and Differences

Libya protests

  • ·Commenced as a series of collisions between the citizens and the military.
  • ·The driving force of the protest was the leadership of Muammar Gadhafi. People wanted him to resign.

Egypt protests

  • Were a result of the uprising that had started on January 25, 2011.
  • Started when Mubarak resigned on February 11, 2011.
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