January 31st, 2011
04:14 PM ET

Social media and Egypt uprising?


A Twitter feed regarding demonstrations in Cairo, Egypt. (PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

As popular uprisings sweep the Middle East, it's hard to underestimate the role played by social media and new technology.

Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, cell phones and even cable news outlets are putting a tremendous amount of power right into the hands of the people. And don't think for a second that the rest of the Arab world isn't watching.

For starters, these communication tools allow ordinary citizens to plan and organize protests in a way that was unthinkable just a few years ago. They can spread the word about mass protests, ensuring more people will show up. In turn, the sheer size of some of these protests makes it close to impossible for officials to stop them.

Thanks to Facebook and Twitter, these protests aren't happening in a vacuum as they might have decades ago.

When young Egyptians take to the streets by the thousands, the world is seeing it and hearing about it in real time through texts, tweets, pictures and videos. It's also why governments, such as those in Egypt or Iran, have tried to crack down on the internet and some of these websites.

In the case of Egypt, social media sites have also put pressure on Washington to act more quickly. With so much information leaking out, it became impossible for the U.S. to downplay what was going on and stay out of it.

No surprise that other dictators in the Middle East are worried. And they should be - they could be next.

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: Middle East • Technology
January 31st, 2011
04:12 PM ET

U.S. role in Middle East political unrest?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

With Egyptian protesters hitting the streets for a week now, there is a growing sense of frustration at the lack of response from the U.S.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2011/images/01/31/art.egypt.protests.jpg caption="Protestors hold an anti Hosni Mubarek sign in Tahrir Square during afternoon anti-government protests today in Cairo."]
Many point to the speech President Obama made to the Muslim world in Cairo in June 2009.

In it, he spoke about Democracy and warned that governments can't suppress the rights of the people.

So... almost two years later - these protesters want to know why President Obama isn't putting his money where his mouth is - and openly supporting them.

It's a reasonable question.

Some in the Middle East are going even farther. The Israeli newspaper Ha-aretz writes that Mr. Obama will be remembered as the president who "lost" Egypt, "and during whose tenure America's alliances in the Middle East crumbled."

The piece suggests President Obama has been too cautious - sitting on the fence and neither embracing despised leaders nor preaching for Democracy.

But supporters of the administration say that abandoning a key ally in a time of crisis would damage America's interests in the region. What kind of message would it send to other allies?

Also, others see Egypt as a moderate force in a region of Islamic extremists like Iran. They say Egypt has helped keep peace between Israel and the Arab world.

Meanwhile, there are signs that after 30 years, the White House is quietly preparing for a post-Mubarak Egypt.

One former Obama official tells the Los Angeles Times that the administration recognizes it has to be "on the right side of history," and that it can't try to keep Mubarak in power at all costs.

Here’s my question to you: What is the U.S. role when it comes to violence and political unrest in the Middle East?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: Middle East