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Is the Wall Street Action Linked to the Arab Spring?

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Excerpted from Al Arabiya English:

By Peter Apps

After the "Arab Spring" and unrest in Europe, New York's "Occupy Wall Street" movement may be the latest sign of a global, popular backlash against elites with increasingly shared rhetoric and tactics.

On almost every continent, 2011 has seen an almost unprecedented rise in both peaceful and sometimes violent unrest and dissent. Protesters in a lengthening list of countries including Israel, India, Chile, China, Britain, Spain and now the United States all increasingly link their actions explicitly to the popular revolutions that have shaken up the Middle East.

The slogans on the streets of Manhattan and other U.S. cities also show a host of other intermingling influences, from the British student protests last year to the "indignados" (indignant) anti-austerity demonstrations in Greece and Spain.

What they all share in common is a feeling that the youth and middle class are paying a high price for mismanagement and malfeasance by an out-of-touch corporate, financial and political elite.

When hundreds of protesters blocked London's Westminster Bridge on Sunday in anger at upcoming changes to Britain's National Health Service, they took on slogans from U.S. protesters who describe themselves as the "99 percent" paying the price for mistakes by a tiny minority.

A global narrative of anger

With the economic outlook darkening just as the growth of social media helps disparate groups around the world knit together a global narrative of anger, there may be more to come.

"This is most definitely going to be a multiyear trend, perhaps even a decade," says Tina Fordham, chief political analyst for U.S. bank Citi. "What's interesting is the way you're increasingly seeing these ... strands come together. So far the policy impact has been minimal, but that could change. An extended period of low or no growth could galvanize these emerging movements into political forces."

While those largely leaderless groups taking to the streets might be getting better at articulating what they are against, they still struggle to define what they actually want. But they are still gaining traction.

Already, the tactic of occupying a location -- be it a park, the central square in an Arab city or a university common room -- appears to be becoming commonplace, allowing debate and providing a focal point from which to engage the media and authority. So too are "days of rage," a term first used during the Middle East risings, not to mention the use of social media and messaging systems to stay one step ahead of authorities. (READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE)

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