Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Syrians are watching - Features - Al Jazeera English

The Syrians are watching - Features - Al Jazeera English

In one of Old Damascus' new cafes, text messages buzzed between mobiles in quick succession, drawing woops of joy and thumbs up from astonished Syrians.

Suzan Mubarak, the wife of the Egyptian president, had flown into exile with her son - so the rumours went - driven out of the country by days of unprecedented protest against the 30-year rule of her husband.

The news from Cairo brought a flutter of excitement to this country, founded on principles so similar to Egypt that the two nations were once joined as one.

Like Egypt, Syria has been ruled for decades by a single party, with a security service that maintains an iron grip on its citizens. Both countries have been struggling to reform economies stifled for generations by central control in an effort to curb unemployment among a ballooning youth demographic.

Could the domino effect that spread from the streets of Tunis to Cairo soon hit Damascus?

"Perhaps the Saudis will have to build a whole village for Arab presidents once they run out of villas," joked a taxi driver, wondering if Hosni Mubarak would go the same way as Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, the Tunisian president who flew into exile in Saudi Arabia after street protests brought down his regime.
The Saudis might be place for a village for exiles. That's what London's for.

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