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Indonesia and Egypt separated at birth? No, just completely separate.

Indonesia and Egypt are large. They're Muslim. They've thrown off long-standing dictators. These similarities aren't particularly meaningful.

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So, the geographic and economic reality couldn't be more different between Egypt and Indonesia. Indonesia was a funnel for foreign manufacturing investment before the 1998 economic crisis that led to Soeharto's downfall, and was so again a few years after. The country was soon booming again –thanks in part to having China and India nearby – creating jobs and leading average Indonesians to be happier with political change. Egypt, with creaky infrastructure and low productivity, has been losing manufacturing jobs for years. Egypt's prospects for a fast economic recovery – let alone a boom like Indonesia's – are much grimmer, and economics influences politics.

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Sidel's comparison of the revitalization of the Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI) under Megawati Sukarnoputri in the early to mid-1990s and the rise of the Kifaya (Enough) movement in Mubarak's final years is also misplaced.

Megawati, as the daughter of Indonesia's founding president Sukarno, had an almost pre-fab cult of personality around her, with many early supporters muttering that she had some of her father's mystical aura. The PDI was one of two opposition political parties legally tolerated by Soeharto, and he allowed her to take the reins, reasoning that a poorly-educated and inexperienced housewife would prove easy to control.

Soeharto's guess was wrong, mostly because an ambitious group of reformers hitched themselves to Megawati's star and started real opposition politics as Soeharto's family members began jockeying to succeed the aging leader.

She was eventually removed as the head of the party, though perhaps had the last laugh when she became Indonesia's president in 2001. Once in power, she demonstrated autocratic tendencies, a hyper-nationalism that sought to forgive human rights abuses by the Indonesian military, and an unwillingness to take steps that might effect the power and privilege of the Indonesian elite she'd been born into.

The Kifaya movement in Egypt was a far looser protest movement opposed to the continued rule of Mubarak and the obvious plans the regime was laying for succession by his son, Gamal (another superficial, but not particularly interesting parallel with Soeharto; despots frequently like dynastic succession). But Kifaya hasn't existed in any real sense for years, never had a unifying political personality like "Mother Mega" (as her fans called her), and the activists that worked with it years ago have splintered into various political camps – socialist, Islamist, etc... since.

Immediate aftermath

And though the ultimate cause of Soeharto's demise was the military withdrawal of support, as was the case with Mubarak, Soeharto was immediately replaced by his civilian vice president, BJ Habibie. Egypt's military, meanwhile, has ruled directly for the past year in a fashion more like the military command council that followed Soeharto's 1965 coup than post-Soeharto Indonesia in 1998.


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