After the coup in Tunisia, many Arab potentates tremble before the wrath of their people. For investors in these countries is not that bad.
Cairo is a multilingual city. In addition to standard Arabic and the Egyptian-Arab national language is English for the upper and middle layers of the eight million city for granted. Entrepreneurs in Germany have no major problems with staff to find passable knowledge of German, and more and more Egyptians to learn Chinese today. But French? This is new.
"Degage stand on many posters in the bloodily suppressed demonstrations against President Hosni Mubarak the middle of last week. "Away with you" in French slang – written off by the banners of the Tunisians, who have fallen in their country’s autocratic ruler Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali. The revolution seems to wander through the Arab world, is brought by the social media on the Internet through YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. Mubarak’s regime has responded not only with the bullets of security forces on protesters in Egypt is Twitter off. Probably too late to the spirit of revolt to get back into the bottle.
Arab rulers want to curb protests
Across the Arab world the rulers try to stem the wave of protests. In Tunisia neighboring Algeria, where were gone in December, the people against the rising food prices and stagnating incomes in the street, the government responded with mandated price reductions for rice, flour and other products: As long as the price of oil rises, the ruler of the state agricultural producing countries like Algeria and Libya in a position to provide cheap cooking oil.
Accordingly, the ruler of Kuwait last week, each of its nearly three million subjects a money promised gift of 3,500 dollars. In lower-cost crisis is passing exercises the ruling family of Qatar, even richer. All in the Arab world broadcast Qatari television station Al-Jazeera examines the anti-Western revolt in the sense politicize – especially against the Palestinian Fatah Government and the anti-Western coalition in Lebanon.
"This is about our dignity, not about the bread"
The events in Egypt and Tunisia have quite different causes and consequences. At the beginning of the North African protests were also rising prices for basic foods. An annual inflation of about six per cent was for all North African countries is nothing new. Important for the growing discontent was the fact that everywhere on the southern edge of the Mediterranean world in crisis broke in 2009, foreign investment, add to the very liberal economic advisor to rulers such as Mubarak and Ben Ali for years. Therefore, increased unemployment, real wages fell just the well-educated workers. In the presidential palaces, the problem was entirely recognized: policemen, soldiers and other strategically important public servants have benefited enormously increasing salaries – the more the frustration has grown all the other, from construction worker to the salaried manager.
The frustration is mixed in Tunis in Cairo, but probably also in the Moroccan city of Casablanca and Damascus in Syria with the fury of a dictatorial ruling caste that has enriched itself uncontrollably, never met credible allegations of corruption and stifle freedom of opinion. In the age of Facebook and Twitter can be well-educated, ambitious and open-minded citizens do not like such things. Even if the dictator a lower price of bread as Ben Ali announced, in his last televised speech before the fall. "He had understood nothing: This is about our dignity, not the bread," commented the Tunisian cultural manager Hisham Ben Khamsa. The Tunisians, the educated people of North Africa are based, not on the much-described Arab revolutions of the 20th Century, the riots were all of the military, but to the revolutions in modern French history, when the people got up each time to weak and dictatorial rulers.
What with a view to further economic development was not the worst. In all some very bloody political turmoil of the revolution were in the 1789, 1830 and 1848 milestones in the transformation of France and other European countries, industrialized societies. "For us, surely it can only be good if we are buying a new property for a factory do not have to make sure that also the brother of the Tunisian president’s personal benefit," a German investor says with much experience in North African countries. The rampant nepotism applies to experts has long been a major obstacle for an uprising in Egypt out of poverty. That the new wave revolution because things will change is always possible. But by no means certain.
Not only because the highly privileged secret police and bodyguards of the president and king of Morocco to Kuwait are now looking very closely to Tunis, to learn from the mistakes of their colleagues there. The crucial question is whether the large Arab states are wide enough for a real modernization. Much speaks against it: Egypt, for example, seemed politically ever to be as far as Tunisia today. That was long ago, in 1952 after the fall of the last king. But it was an economically incompetent socialist military dictatorship, which turned slowly in an economic liberal, but corrupt clique rule. Something like that would be feasible in 2011, to replace the socialist officers of the last century were allowed to be religiously motivated violence rulers such as Iran or Sudan in the Arab state border.
Fear of Islamists in North Africa
A nightmare for the West, and just because the former has mainly colonial power France held the previous Tunisian regime, the long rod, have maintained for decades, the U.S. friendship with Egypt’s Mubarak. In this case no one knows how strong are the so-called Islamists in North Africa, as long as they are politically oppressed – and as radical.
Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood have old ties to terrorist groups like Palestinian Hamas and the global al-Qaeda and their current spokesman, however, to connect much more moderate. The Tunisian Islamists have taken their place with very mild tones in the revolutionary movement and are committed to democracy.
In all North African countries, there are Islamist groups, but more than 20 or 30 percent of the vote in democratic elections, trust them to an expert, a crash into the Middle Ages as three decades ago in Islam in North Africa is almost unthinkable. "The Jasmine Revolution in Tunisia is not a fake flower," said Volker Perthes, director of the Berlin Foundation for Science and Policy and author of several books about the Arab world.
Strong regional differences
Perthes warned however about to overlook the differences between the various Arab countries and other oil states, nation states and countries with large well-established minority groups such as the Berbers in Algeria or the religious groups in Lebanon, countries with strong and weak Westernization. Egypt, with its strong gap between urban and rural areas (57 percent of Egyptians live in the village compared with 33 percent in Tunisia) and the Muslim-Coptic opposition is perhaps not a good candidate for a democracy, Tunisia already. "The Tunisians are in fact as far as the Spanish and Portuguese in the seventies, when there failed dictatorships," said Perthes.
Spain and Portugal have since gone through a very convoluted development – through to their precarious financial situation today. But living standards and access to the world market have improved dramatically in three decades. Should such a development now used in Tunisia and even in Egypt, in addition to the Tunisians themselves and German would be the beneficiaries. Currently, according to a census of the Tunisian-German Chamber of Commerce 280 German companies operating in the North African country, especially in the textile and auto components industry. In the riots have locals especially German companies successfully protected from looters, Fausi Najjar tells of Germany Trade and Invest in Tunis. Whoever is soon expected to rule in Tunisia, the German investor is less resentful than their French competitors who wheeling and dealing going with the Ben Ali regime. At a similar advantage over the U.S. investors should expect German and other Europeans in Egypt after the end of the Mubarak era.
Exception, then, could a revolutionary wave of German companies make a lot of fun.