As I write this evening the people here in Jordan have been glued to their tvs watching events unfold in Egypt. The internet cafe where we are working is switching the tv back and forth between soccer and events in Egypt. We are in a smoke-filled room of young men smoking from hookas. As you are probably aware, Al Jazeera has been shut off in Egypt, as have been internet and wireless phone services. Yet, young people in Egypt have been beating the censors and figuring out how to use dial-up and other ways to get around the media blockade. Tonight (Sunday) the Arabic channels on live feed here in Jordan show Mohammad al Baradi has joined the demonstrations in Cairo. I have nothing to add at this point in terms of new information, as I presume the information you are getting on the Web, CNN, BBC, etc. is giving pretty good coverage. Our hotel has only one channel, and that is in Arabic. It is interesting to watch the Obama administration squirm and evaluate out how it can hedge its bets, but that seems impossible at this point. The Egyptian pillar of U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East is about to fall, and no one at this point can predict where things will go.
Like Egypt and Tunisia, Jordan has serious economic problems as well; the price of fuel and food is driving people to distraction. Gas is over $4.00 per gallon, food prices are going up, and salaries are low. Earlier this week there were demonstrations in Amman against a sharp rise in fuel prices. A young high school teacher, with whom we spoke, makes about $300 per month and wants to leave his country, but doesn’t know where to go or what to do. We will be in Israel and the West Bank late in the day on Tuesday.