The Great Arab Revolt: Cole in the Nation

My essay is out in The Nation, entitled “The Great Arab Revolt”.

‘These governments took steps in recent decades toward neoliberal policies of privatization and a smaller public sector under pressure from Washington and allied institutions—and the process was often corrupt. The ruling families used their prior knowledge of important economic policy initiatives to engage in a kind of insider trading, advantaging their relatives and buddies.

The wife of Tunisian dictator Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali, the notorious former hairdresser Leila Ben Ali, placed her relatives in key business positions enabled by insider government knowledge and licenses that allowed them to dominate the country. The US Embassy in Tunis estimated in 2006 that half the major entrepreneurs in the country were related by blood or marriage to the president. In Egypt, Ahmed Ezz, for example, benefited from his high position in the ruling National Democratic Party and his friendship with Hosni Mubarak’s son Gamal. Ezz has been formally charged with usurping control of a government-owned steel concern and of rerouting its products to his own, privately owned Ezz Steel company. In the past decade, Ezz went from controlling 35 percent of the Egyptian steel market to over 60 percent, raising a chorus of accusations of monopoly practices. Since the Mubaraks rigged the elections so that the NDP always won, and the party officials favored by the president prospered, Egypt was ruled by a closed elite.’

Read the whole thing.

5 Responses

  1. Of course, the neoliberal privatization and deregulation measures in the developed Western countries, have been scarcely less characterized by cronyism and corruption.

    It’s the nature of neoliberlism to be cronyist and corrupt.

  2. How about something on Libya ? Or is the Oil price too high to tolerate that ?

    • I hope you are safe.. It’s now five days after you posted and happenings in Libya are on the world radar that’s for sure but not exactly as people would want. The twitter feeds you listed are currently posting news of a terrible night going on in Tripoli.. The world powers want peaceful transition to democracy but the last I heard oil production was still up despite all the violence against the people.. It’s like a nightmare going on and I can’t help but think that the world in general is more interested in free enterprise zones to promote commerce than giving protection to people threatened from repeated use of heavy weapons and mercenary forces. Hopefully armed forces will stop abuses.

  3. Countries would be wise to concentrate on preparations to ward off famine and other stress increasing things like water shortage and climate change effects because those may be not far off.. The thinking that oil is a source of wealth needs to change because it’s opposite of reality if the planet is going to stay a nice place to live. Not only that but the world doesn’t seem to have reserves of strategic supplies to meet energy requirements to retool to keep global warming down and to meet people’s basic needs unless fossil fuel is used which simply exacerbates the situation. Avoiding runaway global warming is essential and all nations need to cooperate.

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