Saturday, January 29, 2011

Middle East in Turmoil

Israel's Neighbors Want Democratic Values


Nadene Goldfoot

Joining Tunisia and Algeria in riots against their respective government are Yemen, Jordan and Egypt. Egypt is on Israel's west side and Jordan is on the eastern side.

Egypt is the 5th largest country in the Middle East and is a country of 77,100,000 people of which 90% are Sunni Muslims who have a state religion and a semi-presidential republic. It's a poor country with a GDP of 5,491. News on television just said that internet and twittering had been stopped in this 5th day of rioting but had just started up again. I was saddened to hear that rioters had entered a famous museum and had torn off the heads of a couple of mummies. That's the trouble with rioting. People get too carried away and start destroying. It's no wonder that the government came out with tanks and they in turn have killed many people now. Our TV news said that street venders may be college graduates but can't find jobs. Prices are high and Mubarak has put money in his homes but has not invested it for the people. I guess there's no need to do so when he's got a lifetime position. He's 82 years old and still has black hair. I can't believe it's been 30 years of power for Hosni Mubarak. I can't imagine having a president for that long a time. Thank goodness we vote every 4 years for one and they can only serve for 8 years at the most. Egypt has been receiving US Aid for the past 60 years. In 2009 its FY (Foreign Operations Budget Request) was 551,255,600. In 2010 the FY was 20,700, 790. Egypt is the 2nd largest recipient of US money. Egypt has signed a peace treaty with Israel. It has honored the peace made by Sadat. I taught with an Egyptian Jewish lady teacher in our English department. Where there used to be many Jews living in Egypt, there are very few left there now.

Yemen happens to be the 16th largest country with a population of 23,013,376 where 99% of the people are Sunni and Shi'a in their Islamic state which has a Presidential republic. Their GDP is only 2,335. Yemen was where Ofrah Haza, the Israeli singer, had come from. She was my very favorite when I lived in Israel from 1980-1985. Sadly, she has died. Yemen wants a change in government from their President Ali Abdullah Saleh who has ruled them for the past 32 years with a corrupt government. Oil is the country's only source of income. The country is the poorest of all the Middle Eastern countries. The police only have used batons against rioters as that's all they could afford. The country has no proper sanitation nor paved roads. Our USA government gave them 250 million in the last 5 years and gave them 300 million in 2010 while expecting to give them 250 million or more in 2011 to fight terrorism as it's been a haven for al-Qaida militants.

Jordan is the 30th largest country with 5,568,565 people of which 95% are Sunni Muslims with a state religion and a constitutional monarchy which has a king. Their GDP is 4,886. Jordan has been having many demonstrations for the last few years but this time it was over price increases and economic austerity. It started on January 4th at the U. of Jordan which is outside of Amman and spread to four other towns. This happened while King Hussein was in Washington at a meeting so his brother, Crown Prince Hassem had to take over and ask for calm. Jordan has also been receiving US Aid for 60 years. In 2004 it received 400 milion dollars per year from USA. Its FY in 2009 was 515,749,676 and in 2010 the FY was 336,398. Jordan has signed a peace treaty with Israel.
Update: 1/30/2011 NBC this morning stated that Egypt receives 1.3 billion from USA.
Lebanon's government collapse, which I wrote about on January 12th in this blog, has continued to have riots and just voted in Nijib Mikati of Hezbollah to lead the new government. There has been 7 shot in continued rioting in clashes with Shiites in Beirut. Harari said that he didn't want to be in the Hezbollah coalition but may change his mind as today he said it's just a Sunni Clan family riot. Lebanon, on Israel's northern border, is the 35th largest Muslim state with 4,196,453 people where 60% are Muslim and the rest Christian who are of a mixed Shi'a/Sunni Islam and is not of any state religion supposedly with a Parliamentary democracy. Their GDP is 11,270. In 2004 Egypt was receiving 2.2 billion dollars per year from USA.
Right now Israel is surrounded by rioting states buffered by Gaza and the West Bank. It's not a pretty picture. Welcome to 2011.

Resource: http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20110130/wl_nm/us_egypt
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/ml_yemen_protest
http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P2-1186285.html on Jordan
http://www.usaid.gov/policy/budget/money/
http://www.usaid.gov/policy/budget/cbj2011/
http://mideast.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2011/01/29/time_for_the_us_to_put_its_money_where_its_mouth_is http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110129/ap_on_re_mi_ea/ml_israel_egypt
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_muslim_majority_countries
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Israel_%E2%80%93_United_States_relations
http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/news/after-riots-and-rage-lebanon-is-ready-to-move-on-1.339397
NBC Meet the Press 1/30/2011
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