Sunday, January 30, 2011

"Anarchy" in Cairo

Reports from Cairo indicate that state authority has collapsed, except for a military presence at a few strategic locations (reports NPR). The police have fled, prisons have emptied, and shops have been looted. Citizens are forming neighborhood defense squads. Apparently, this prevents people from protesting, but it seems that the protests have served their purpose (eliminating the Mubarak government) and the revolution has entered into a second stage.

Sunday is a business day in Egypt, but shops are largely closed in Cairo. The NPR reporter suggested that this is mainly due to security concerns. However, another thought occurred to me: do they have a currency anymore? I'd like to know what has happened to the Egyptian currency. A government-issued currency typically becomes worthless when that government is on the verge of collapse. However, I've seen little indication that that the Egyptian protesters are pushing for the type of revolution that would nullify the currency -- many of them seem to simply want Mubarak to leave.

So this period of "anarchy" is unlikely to last long, since the Egyptian people probably are not anarchists. As with many revolutions, this one may quickly degenerate into a civil war among various statist factions, each seeking to dominate the entire society.

  • Rising food prices (i.e. inflation of a sort) may have been the trigger for these protests.
  • As of Friday, the Egyptian pound was falling on international exchanges, as were other currencies in the Middle East. Likewise, the credit rating of the Egyptian state had been downgraded. Egyptian banks are closed due to the protests (by government order, I believe).
  • Fun Facts from Wikipedia: this all started on "National Police Day".

John Robb at Global Guerrillas reports rumors of police being involved in the looting, and speculates about the use of looting as a counter-insurgency strategy. Tip to Reason.

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