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Mid East countries ripe for popular revolt

New York: A wide arc of countries in the Middle East from Yemen to Bahrain were ripe for popular revolt, unless sweeping political changes were made, a report ordered by US President has warned.

Egypt, which witnessed a political turmoil leading to the toppling of 30-year-old regime of strongman Hosni Mubarak was identified as a flash point for the region by the report which wanted US to push for political changes in the region.

The report known as Presidential study directive identified the new flash points post-Egypt and asked for proposals on how US could push for political changes in countries with autocratic rulers, who are also valuable allies of America, New York Times reported.

"There`s no question Egypt was very much on the mind of the president," said a senior official who helped draft the report and who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss its findings.

"You had all the unknowns created by Egypt`s succession picture ? and Egypt is the anchor of the region," he added.

The report was ordered in the backdrop of Mideast leaders repressing their people and small protests by people already surfacing.

"Whether it was Yemen or other countries in the region, you saw a set of trends," said another official, who described the trend as "real prescription for trouble.

"The trend included ? a big youth population, threadbare education systems, stagnant economies and new social network technologies like Facebook and Twitter."

The officials said that the report focused on how to balance American strategic interests and the desire to avert broader instability against the democratic demands of the protesters.

"We really pushed the question of who was taking the lead in reform," said an official.

"Would pushing reform harm relations with the Egyptian military? Doesn`t the military have an interest in reform?"

The White House held weekly meetings with experts from the State Department, the CIA and other agencies, according to NYT, but the project was kept secret to avoid pressure from Arab allies.

The report helped shape the message given by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Qatar in January, in which she criticised Arab leaders for being slow on change.

"If a leadership won`t pursue such a path towards development, it`s very hard for anyone on the outside to make this happen," she said, last month.


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