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26 January 2011

Tunisia and Egypt, why now?

What triggered all of this? True, it is good to see an attempt in both of these countries to bring in less authoritarian governments, but why would this be the time? There are many things that influence the mood of people. Certainly the unemployed man that lit himself on fire was, pardon the pun, the spark to these events. The leaked information about former President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali may have contributed and certainly the highly educated being unemployed all contributed to the unrest in Tunisia. Egypt has had a similar lead up, with the spark there being the overthrow of Tunisia's government.

However there is something notable about national revolutions. They tend to occur, not when there is injustice and corruption, but at times of insufficient food. Starvation is common in the developing world, and each year, when food supplies begin to run up the "Hunger Season" begins. Americans can take a new apprication for July 4th, that would have been the 13 colonies hunger season- harvesting (for longer season crops) doesn't really get going until late summer. The storming of the Bastille, which kicked off the French Revolution, occured after a failed harvest sent bread prices to ridiculously high levels. The Russian Revolution, triggered during World War I, strained food supplies, sending prices much higher.

The hunger season is almost always the same time that next year's crops are being planted, grown and just before they are harvested. The growing season in Tunisia and Egypt is currently in full swing. Compounding the problem is a global food crisis. The price of food is in the middle of skyrocketing the same way it did in 2008. During that food crisis, both Guiena (Conakry) and Mauritania had their governments overthrown.

*Picture from the AP.

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