I knew Egypt was the largest population of the Arab countries, but until I looked up the numbers I didn’t realize how dramatically the demographics of the Arab world are weighted toward Egypt:
What’s more, a healthy share of Iraqis are Kurds rather than Arabs so in some ways this understates it. The point is that a more open Egypt would have a huge cultural impact simply because such a large share of the Arab audience is an Egyptian audience. It’s also worth noting that the last time Egypt had a promising new post-revolutionary regime (i.e., in the 1950s), it swiftly used the combination of ideological vigor and demographic weight to identify the overall Arab cause with the Egyptian state. As detailed in Adeed Dawisha’s excellent Arab Nationalism in the Twentieth Century: From Triumph to Despair this didn’t exactly work out. But the basic logic of the situation is a reminder of why many regimes in the region were very happy with the moribund Mubarak regime.