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Tunisian Revolution Shakes, Inspires Middle East

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Posted on Jan 18, 2011
AP / Thibault Camus

A man at an outdoor cafe in Tunis breathes through a handkerchief as tear gas wafts through the street behind him from a nearby confrontation between police and protesters.

By Juan Cole

The Tunisian uprising that overthrew the 23-year-old regime of strongman Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali had resonances throughout the Middle East. Leaders of countries invested in the region’s authoritarian and highly unequal status quo rejected the political revolution, while groups and states that want change welcomed it. The spectacle of masses of demonstrators pouring down Avenue Bourguiba in Tunis on Friday, overwhelming security forces and putting the president to flight, raised the hopes of the dispossessed and the downtrodden, even as it inspired a gathering dread in the breasts of the region’s dictators and absolute monarchs. Whether or not, as many observers rushed to predict, a wave of discontent will radiate from Tunis throughout the Arab world (and there are reasons to be cautious about that prospect), the “Jasmine Revolution” is a Rorschach test for distinguishing reactionaries from innovators in the region.

Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Silvan Shalom worried that the Tunisian events might lead to regime change in other countries. Originally from Tunisia himself, Shalom expressed disquiet that a more democratic Middle East might not share with Tel Aviv a concern with fighting what he called radical fundamentalists, who he said threaten Israel. He was probably talking about the possibility of, say, the Muslim Brotherhood taking over Egypt or Jordan, both of which have peace treaties with Israel that are likely be abrogated if another government comes to power. It is hypocritical, however, for the Israelis, who are always criticizing the Arab world for being undemocratic, to express such anxiety about the prospect of democratization.

Among the more forthright condemnations in the Arab world of the crowd action ironically came from an old revolutionary and populist, Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi. An ally of Ben Ali, Gadhafi insisted that the dictator was still the country’s legal president, and was the best person to rule it. He upbraided his Tunisian neighbors for their impatience, since Ben Ali had anyway Thursday pledged to step down in 2014. All the Tunisians had accomplished, he lamented, was to trade out one known president for an unknown one. He also denounced as fabrications the U.S. cables revealed by WikiLeaks that detailed Ben Ali’s corruption. (A WikiLeaks cable had reported on Gadhafi’s own foibles, including his voluptuous, ever-present Ukrainian nurse.)

The quirky Libyan leader’s cautions were clearly aimed as much at his own people as at Tunis. Although Gadhafi rules brutally, he has been better than other rulers of oil states about sharing the wealth (a notion Ben Ali appears never to have heard of). It is not clear that Libyans, recently able to export and develop their petroleum after years of international boycotts over alleged terrorist acts emanating from their government, want to rock the boat. The only recent major protests in Libya have been by the poor over delays in completing the construction of government-funded housing.

In Jordan, the protests have been more substantive and broadly based. After a big rally condemning unemployment and high food prices Friday, some 3,000 trade unionists, leftists and Muslim fundamentalists staged a protest outside the parliament building in Amman on Sunday. They demanded that Prime Minister Samir Rifai step down in favor of a leader closer to the people, and speakers warmly congratulated the Tunisian people on their victory.

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In Iraq, Arab inhabitants of the Kurdish-dominated province of Kirkuk threatened to mount a Tunisian-style uprising against Kurdish security forces and the Kurdish-dominated police. The ethnic super-province of Kurdistan, dominated by the Kurdish ethnic group, which does not speak Arabic, is attempting to annex Kirkuk to itself, alarming Iraqi Arabs who live there and feel they would face discrimination under such a circumstance.

The Lebanese Shiite party-militia, Hezbollah, expressed its pride in what the Tunisians had accomplished, and compared the Tunisian events to the 1978-79 revolution in Iran. Iran, itself shaken by its own popular uprising in summer 2009, has been more measured in its comments. Both Syria and Iran blamed Ben Ali’s troubles on his overly cozy relationship with a fickle United States.

Every state and movement in the Middle East is reading into the events in Tunisia its own anxieties and aspirations. Powerful states facing opposition such as Libya and Israel were unnerved, and the Tunisians have done us the favor of allowing us to see the similarities between Tripoli and Tel Aviv in this regard. Both appear to feel themselves under siege by rapid and unwelcome change in the region. Oppressed minorities, such as Arabs in Kurdish-dominated areas of Iraq, took heart from the Tunisian achievement. Those movements challenging the status quo, whether Hezbollah in Lebanon or leftists and Muslim fundamentalists in Jordan, were the most vocal in congratulating Tunisia and associating themselves with its achievement. The status quo states afraid of change, including Libya and Israel, have powerful allies in the West and substantial monetary resources. The odds are stacked against people power of the Tunisian sort.


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Shenonymous's avatar

By Shenonymous, February 23, 2011 at 12:01 pm Link to this comment

The smell of freedom is intoxicating and becomes a viral infection
even if the people in rebellion do not know what it would mean if
they were to be victorious. They move as a maddened whole.  Yes,
they are a mob, a mob who smells the perfume of liberty.  Liberty is
a sensation, a feeling on the skin, an adrenalin rush, a blindness in
the eye!  It is heard and tasted.  The incredible access to information
is now unstoppable in spite of 30 to 40 years and more of severe
tyranny closing off internet connections.  This is a new world and
tyrants of any stripe need to be cognizant of that!  I do not think
the MSM can do anything to keep news from the public anymore. 
First Tunisia, then Egypt, now Gaddafi’s haven, it’s happening and
it is unstoppable.

But even in furious antagonism against what might be perceived as
gross injustice I would not under any perceived mistreatment with any
histrionic parody, call myself a Cretin.  I do not call myself names even
in the swoon of feverish diatribe and ridicule against an identified
enemy of my beliefs.

It should be known by now after being a character on Truthdig, a
truthdipper, that arguing against one religion for me would be to argue
against all.  I do not think this is the forum to do that.  I think this is
the precise place to rail against cruel and despotic secular tyranny and
what disobedience and the human spirit to rebel against it, to be a
Dissenter in capitalized form.  Much to the chagrin of some, and
agitation with my perspective, I do believe, however, that a day of
reckoning is coming when all religions are just another passing moment
in human history.  In the meantime, I, who am not a ‘religious’ person,
would physically fight for religions to have their freedom to practice as
they see fit and that all have the organic right to sort out for
themselves what life means to them and how the universe happens. 
Nevertheless, I do not believe this is a religious moment, it is a
serendipitous moment of revolt for independence. Independence cannot
legitimately or reconcilably be spoken defensively or offensively in the
same breath with religion.

I can only reiterate what Gen. Yusuf Ahmed Khayr, the security minister
in the northern Somalia region of Puntland said about the incident of
the Somalia pirates, “This incident is a clear message and alarm that it’s
time the world community quickly steps up to stop these pirate criminal
activities. They should be treated mercilessly.”  I would only add that
they must be stopped once and for all.

I am normally against violence and speak against what I have
determined to be unjust wars in which the US has been chosen to be
the big contributor since the 70s and most vocally the two wars going
on as we breathe.  And despite that, and however immoral it might be,
I take that dose of immorality in view of the fact that there are
individuals in this world who are so anarchistic that they think they can
damage and kill others for their own gratification whatever that might
be without retribution.  And they must be removed by whatever means. 
If that means capital punishment, then by my standards so be it.

Report this
Shenonymous's avatar

By Shenonymous, February 23, 2011 at 11:58 am Link to this comment

The fact that pirates now are holding 30 ships and in excess of 660
hostages is flabbergasting.  What is the world doing?!!! Not doing is
the better question?  That there is any debate at all about eliminating
these Somalians with the morals of a pigsty once and for all is an
unconscionable negligence for the rest of the world. 

It would appear that no one the hell cares one second that these
rapacious degenerates get to spend their extorted 9.5 million with
some kind of dispensation granted by an impotent eye.  It does not
matter one bit on what they spend their extorted gains.  It also does
not matter one bit that a quantity of Bibles were on board unless these
beasts were incensed by them enough to kill over it.  And it does not
matter one bit that it possibly was retaliation for imprisoned other
brutal comrades that these mongrels need to be eliminated.  This is a
horrid and stinking to high putrescence malignancy in the world. This
despicable criminal activity cannot be allowed to continue. Does that
sound enraged?  You bet it does!

When religious fanaticism is involved such violence is the rule, not the
exception.  Is it known for a fact that these four people were murdered
because of their cargo of Bibles?  Or that the pirates might have known
of their religious mission?  Missionaries have been massacred and
slaughtered for thousands of years. From the CBS News article it could
very well be the case since the Americans were not used as hostages.
But exactly how toxic could these four people have been?  They did
not have any notoriety!  It is conjecture at this point.  Their boat was
known as it was tracked by the pirates.  Their killing is a grotesque act
by savages and does not seem at all to be the just unmitigated act of
businessmen, by any perversion of that word, looking for vast
amounts of ransom money.  Nor do they seem to be insurgents but
they do seem to be fanatics of a type.  From the stories printed or
broadcast, while Islamists, this gang of thugs does not seem to be
operating in the name of Allah!  They are antithetically operating for
their own evil incentives.  These are not the romantic pirates of fiction,
these are brutal and wanton anarchic killers.

Report this
OzarkMichael's avatar

By OzarkMichael, February 23, 2011 at 1:09 am Link to this comment

thoughtful, She.

yes, the story doesnt fit the reassuring narrative that the media wants the people to be comforted by, namely how nice the Pieceful Religion is and its all going to work out wherever the revolutions are happening. We all know revolution is democracy so celebrate and dont worry! yey for revolution!

However the piracy story is online:

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2011/02/22/501364/main20034691.shtml

the story emphasizes that there has been a history of American military response to the piracy and backhandedly suggested that is why the Americans were killed.

Buried in the story you will find a more likely reason why the Americans were killed, and for that reason the story wasnt pushed. I assume you already know of what i speak.

What you might not know is that the media doesnt want to incite us ‘Cretans’ to the violence which we purportedly aim at Religion of Pieces here every time there is a threat to us from that minority. However, there has never been a backlash by us Cretans and there probably never will be.

So that backlash theory has been completely bogus, it is really a permanent prejudice in the MSM against the Cretans, and i think somewhere you referred to a statistical report of hate crimes which demonstrated that the ‘backlash’ theory has no basis in fact.

If anything, the news should be very careful to stop painting the Bob Dylans as bad guys, if they worry about backlash it is the Bobs who are most victimized. But they dont seem to worry about criticizing the Neighborhood Bully at all. Bob will just have to take his chances.

So really its all about elevating the Religion of Pieces. Which isnt so peaceful unless we walk around it bowing and scraping like our Fearless Leader and mainstream press does.

After promising to be silent about the interplay of Pieces, Cretans, and Bobs, i have spoken anyway, but did so in such a way that you will have to use your Universal Secret Decoder Ring. The last number you sent was 12.

the 4 americans were probably doing some sort of Cretan thing and so death is not the worst outcome. Hope it all works together for some good.

Report this

By samosamo, February 22, 2011 at 12:19 pm Link to this comment

****************


shenonymous,

Something isn’t quite right here for sure. I can only think
those pirates are still operating as being part of some other
purpose. Surely o has news of this, if not the first to know, so
why has o not ‘commander-in-chiefed’ an attack against
those or some pirates?

Report this
Shenonymous's avatar

By Shenonymous, February 22, 2011 at 11:05 am Link to this comment

Because Truthdig has not seen fit to tell the report of the murder of
the four Americans on the yacht by the Somalia pirates, I wiil bring it
up here.  Always tolerant of most people who are different than
me, when a real tragedy and travesty happens, I balk and I am utterly
surprised more do not given the pathetic outcry over partisan politics! 

It is unconscionable that the Somalia pirates are able to continue to
exist.  They should be blown out of the water with no thought of self-
recrimination and once and for all!  The world obviously does not need
them. They are not like vermin, they are vermin.

Report this

By jc, February 22, 2011 at 12:58 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Left out in North Africa an Islamic-bank is doing a better job of being a bank than lets say fed. bank USA, so those profits are cutting into privately owned banks profits… As one person on website always says, follow the money.  When leadership is helping their own and doing a better job at it, instead of saying good job, motto is lets’ ensure all profits are ours.

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OzarkMichael's avatar

By OzarkMichael, January 21, 2011 at 6:28 pm Link to this comment

I said: So put your money on the Fundamentalist Muslims to come out on top. Think of Iran in 1978.

Lafayette opined: This is far-fetched nonsense

So i asked him: So a question for you Lafayette and please give an answer, “Is there a Tunisian political party that wants to implement Sharia law?”

Lafayette, i was patiently waiting for your response to my question. But this just popped up:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/tunisia/8274517/Islamist-movement-at-forefront-of-Tunisias-protests.html

When you opine that what i say is far-fetched nonsense you ought at least respond to my counter-questioning. What i was wondering about seems to be within the realm of possiblity whether you will admit it or not.

You asked me: Have you ever been to Tunisia? I have, many times.

You have taken the position of authority on this, and i can respect that, but you should at least stand and deliver.

Let me give you a hint… An ad hominim attack on me right now will not go over well. Put something worthwhile into this conversation instead.

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By ejreed, January 20, 2011 at 8:47 pm Link to this comment

Confusion Reigns in Tunisia
Tunisian’s are glad that former president Ben Ali has been ousted, but they are keen to see the country up-and-running again. However, there are still protests on the streets of Tunis, and the current caretaker government is in a precarious position. http://www.newslook.com/videos/284586-confusion-reigns-in-tunisia?autoplay=true

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By tedmurphy41, January 20, 2011 at 5:47 am Link to this comment

Do you ‘really’ think so?
If I were you, I truly wouldn’t hold my breath.

Report this
Shenonymous's avatar

By Shenonymous, January 20, 2011 at 12:18 am Link to this comment

“It will take time, but Tunisia does not have any oil revenues and
tourism is their main export business. There is very little likelihood
that Tunisia will radicalize itself.”
Is the rationale that a small
country has to belong to an oil cartel in order to want a government
of the people by the people?  This tourist country just had a major
revolution.  The Guardian headlines today, “New president promises
‘complete break from past.’  Maybe that is an ‘Oh Yeah,’ but the
expressions on the women’s faces who were among the protestors in
the photo in the article is obviously joy.

If domino theory has any credibility and if “a wave of discontent
radiates from Tunisia to throughout the Arab world,” it could be a
stunning and intense time for the Middle East.  There could be an
infection of regime changes! Does Cole caution that possibly new
regimes could be worse than present ones?  Or is there any legitimate
basis to worry about a democratic Tunisia?  Shalom is breathless that a
“more” democratic Middle East would attend more casually, uh rather,
haltingly to resisting radical Islamist fundamentalists in their threat to
Israel.  Ought that to be a concern of Tunisia?  I scare quoted the word
“more” since the implication is that there already exists degrees of
democracy throughout the Arab world.  If Tunisia develops consensus
democracy then as broad a range of opinions as possible will be
embraced and minority opinions are likely to be ignored.  Dissent
would be as suppressed as it would under a tyranny.  Or Tunisians
could choose direct democracy, where those who select to participate
make the laws, vote politicians in or out of office, and enforce laws
through the court trials.  Representative democracy is also an option if
there are tribes or districts where officials may be elected as a subset
of the electorate.  A couple of other species of democracy,
constitutional, deliberation, social, are also possibilities, or it could even
fall into sortition, a democracy without elections where random selection
decides state action.  But whatever form of democracy it chooses, the
power of government will be rooted in the people.  In such a sea of
discontent, once the taste of such power is had, it is unlikely a different
path will be taken. 

Regardless of how long it takes, just remember Volya naroda was
the cry of the Russian people.  Haiti is a modern example.  It does not
seem that Cole is far off the mark when he says, “Every state and
movement in the Middle East is reading into the events in Tunisia its
own anxieties and aspirations.”  It seems a foregone conclusion that the
next decade will be a tumultuous one in the Middle East and anyone
who watches the birds for predicting the future might just start
seriously looking skyward.

Report this
moonraven's avatar

By moonraven, January 19, 2011 at 8:26 pm Link to this comment

Lafayette:

A “spokeperson” for Baby Doc indicated this afternoon that they are demanding that the Nov. 28 election results be cancelled so that Bady D can run for president.

Poor Haiti.  The last straw falls on its back.

A few weeks back I read Graham Greene’s The
Comedians.  Set during the Papa Doc period, it was a terrifying look at the dynamics of Haiti during the Duvalier nightmare.  Well worth reading now.

Report this
Peter Knopfler's avatar

By Peter Knopfler, January 19, 2011 at 8:06 pm Link to this comment

I hope this becomes a womans movement and that the
next pres.of Tunisia is Female, I know wishful
thinking, I wonder if Obama sends in Air attack
requested by King of Saudi like in Yemen a few months
ago this why mainstream news says little because the
American administration knows not what they want to
do. Mean while the women are organizing. Obama bows
before Communist China and King of Saudi this bowing
to the two worst countries for Human right in the
world and Obama kisses their ass so maybe He will
bomb the Tunis movement like Obama does everywhere
else. Drones will be sent in and Arms sent to Libya
Omar Mamoud will come to the rescue under the Shadow
of USA military solutions never let a disaster go to
waste we already sold huge arms shipment to Libya so
says C-span. America supported a 23 year dictator
that tortured their public but then Bush admitted to
torturing and said he would do it again. So Obama
shows his real Corporation Colors. Govenor of Hawaii
says there is no record of his birth, so that is why
the bowing!

Report this
OzarkMichael's avatar

By OzarkMichael, January 19, 2011 at 7:50 pm Link to this comment

I said: So put your money on the Fundamentalist Muslims to come out on top. Think of Iran in 1978.

Lafayette said: This is far-fetched nonsense.

I hope it is, but some people dont think so:

Tunisians are on the path to establishing Islamic rule in their country after having toppled a Western-backed dictator, Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Wednesday.

“It is very clear that the nation of Tunisia rose up against a Western-backed dictator using Islamic, humane, monotheistic and justice-seeking slogans,” he told a cheering crowd in the central city of Yazd.

“In one word, the Tunisians are after establishing Islamic law and rules,” the hardliner said in a speech broadcast live on state television.

Ahmadinejad’s remarks come after 228 lawmakers in the 290-member Iranian parliament voiced their support on Tuesday for what they termed the “revolutionary movement” of the Tunisian people.

http://www.thenewage.co.za/8287-1019-53-Tunisia_on_the_way_to_Islamic_rule

I am unsure if the Iranians know something or if this is just theatrics. So a question for you Lafayette and please give an answer, “Is there a Tunisian political party that wants to implement Sharia law?”

Report this
Lafayette's avatar

By Lafayette, January 19, 2011 at 3:54 pm Link to this comment

OM: So put your money on the Fundamentalist Muslims to come out on top. Think of Iran in 1978.

This is far-fetched nonsense. Have you ever been to Tunisia? I have, many times.

They are the least radical of the Mahgreb (which is what Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco are called) countries. So much so that the French PM suggested yesterday that the French community in Tunisia remain there and not to panic.

The Tunisian political exiles who lived in France have all returned and promise a democratic government along the lines of the French one. The French have committed full support to their efforts.

It will take time, but Tunisia does not have any oil revenues and tourism is their main export business. There is very little likelihood that Tunisia will radicalize itself.

Report this

By Gladwyn d'Souza, January 19, 2011 at 11:49 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

It’s not a good sign that their American supplied, stocked, and fed military are playing
the good guys in the background. After generations of dictatorships there is a vacuum
that public negotiated multiparty government will have a difficult time overcoming and
continue the violence at the core of our lives. Its ominous that we can keep Lavalas from
running in Haiti and not condemn Duvalier’s return or the crimes in Honduras.

Report this

By marta, January 19, 2011 at 8:37 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Concerning Tunisia, remember what 2 countries that want to eliminate Arabs/Muslims and have created turmoil to prove it,—- so wonder what the US and Israel has to do Tunisia???

Report this

By samosamo, January 19, 2011 at 2:17 am Link to this comment

****************

 

The u.s. department of shock doctrine is most likely working
overtime time to ‘settle’ Tunisia down for the imf, world bank,
wto to go in and ‘work their magic’.

Report this
OzarkMichael's avatar

By OzarkMichael, January 19, 2011 at 12:31 am Link to this comment

The way the article is written, you would think that something really good has happened.

I am not so sure. Partly because Tunisia is in transition to god-knows-what, and what the widespread effects in Middle East will be, that is even less clear.

“Leftists and Fundamentalist Muslims” cheering together. Thats a picture we see more and more often. This is an alliance that I think Truthdig hopes for and encourages here at home and abroad.  But it seems obvious to me that both groups have completely different agendas, and in governance you really cant have both at the same time. One will use the other, bending the other to its will. Think of Iran in 1978. 

I think Leftists are clueless about how smart and committed the Muslims are to Islam. The Fundamentalists understand the Left better and play them pretty well. So put your money on the Fundamentalist Muslims to come out on top. Think of Iran in 1978.

What is the alliance good for then? Only two things. It leverages against Jews and believing Christians. Specifically, it is an alliance to destroy Israel abroad and to isolate/weaken Fundamentalist Christians politically here at home. This makes the alliance quite palatable to both the Leftists and the Fundamentalist Muslims who have so little in common otherwise.

From the article: Powerful states facing opposition such as Libya and Israel were unnerved, and the Tunisians have done us the favor of allowing us to see the similarities between Tripoli and Tel Aviv in this regard.

It takes a Leftist to write a sentence so ‘profound’ and smirky. Let me throw it back at you, Mr Cole. I thank the Tunisians for showing us the similar reaction between you and Hezbollah. Congrats Tunisia, you went through upheaval and face an uncertain future just so we can see that Juan Cole is in the pen with Hezbollah.

I miss the old Left. They were a little more principled and a whole lot smarter. 

Whether Tunisia will end up with more freedom and happiness is unknown. I suppose a chance for better is preferable to no chance at all, but things could actually end up worse than ever. To cheer because it seems to put Israel in the same pen as Tripoli shows Mr Cole’s ignorance and reveals that he couldnt care less about the people in Tunisia.

Another awful Truthdig article. A decent post ITW(I ought to acknowledge it since I call you out otherwise). Nayereh Tohidi brought some info to the table. I hope it portends a better future, but we will have to wait and see.

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PatrickHenry's avatar

By PatrickHenry, January 18, 2011 at 7:36 pm Link to this comment

As the picture depicts, the outdoor cafes are still open.

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By samosamo, January 18, 2011 at 7:21 pm Link to this comment

****************


As of this morning, baby doc was arrested in Haiti.

Report this

By Nayereh Tohidi, January 18, 2011 at 5:52 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Another piece of good news is that a feminist scholar, Dr. Lilia Labidi, is appointed as the Minister of Women’s Affairs to the transitional government of Tunisia. I see this as a good sign since I have known Lilia for several years now as a good friend and colleague and am familiar with her progressive politics.
I wish her lots of good luck in this uncertain and perilous time for change.
Thank you Prof. Cole for updating us with your excellent analyses on Tunisia.

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Lafayette's avatar

By Lafayette, January 18, 2011 at 2:48 pm Link to this comment

fel: The Tunisian revolution should, and probably will, ‘shake-up’ the Middle East.

Let’s hope so. It would be nice to see the backside of Gadaffi. And Moubarak of Egypt, who is programming his replacement by his son.

And Iran’s Mollah Khameni who crushed a popular uprising there. Which shows how difficult it will be ... and remains wishful thinking for the moment.

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By felicity, January 18, 2011 at 1:50 pm Link to this comment

When the Afghanis defeated the Soviet’s Red Army, it
signaled to ‘satellites’ of the Soviet Union that the
Red Army could be defeated, previously believed not to
be the case, and the great ‘break-up’ of the Soviet
Empire followed.  The Tunisian revolution should, and
probably will, ‘shake-up’ the Middle East.

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Lafayette's avatar

By Lafayette, January 18, 2011 at 1:33 pm Link to this comment

French news is saying that Baby Doc Duvalier has been detained “for questioning”.

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By Steve, January 18, 2011 at 1:12 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Deputy Prime Minister Silvan Shalom’s misguided concerns notwithstanding, it would certainly be in Israel’s interest to have friendly relations with an Arab democracy and not just two frightened, Arab dictatorial regimes. Sure a lot of bumpiness in the short term can be expected between any nascent Tunisian democracy and the current Likud/Shas government, but beyond that, an open, mutually beneficial relationship is in Tel Aviv’s and Tunis’s interest.  It can’t hurt (or maybe it could?) that so many Israelis are of North African descent.

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By Inherit The Wind, January 18, 2011 at 7:47 am Link to this comment

It’s interesting that Juan Cole had to seek out the Deputy PM of Israel to find an Israeli public figure who was negative on the overthrow of Ben Ali.  You’d have expected a quote from Netanyahu, or from that skunk Avigdor Lieberman, the Foreign Minister, or even Ehud Barack, who just quit Labor to side with Netanyahu, but whoever heard of Shalom?

Personally, if Tunisia forms a democracy, and doesn’t just replace Ben Ami with another strong man, I’m happy for them.

Quirky personal note:  When I was in college, in the ‘70’s, a grad student I knew was Haitian and had gone to school with Baby Doc Duvalier.  He said that in school, Baby Doc had said he wouldn’t be like his father, he’d clean things up and be for the people. Then story-teller shook his head and muttered that it didn’t turn out that way, and Baby Doc was as bad, if not worse than Papa Doc…Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

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Lafayette's avatar

By Lafayette, January 18, 2011 at 6:17 am Link to this comment

More background on Baby Doc Duvalier - the 20th century Caribbean Pirate - here

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Lafayette's avatar

By Lafayette, January 18, 2011 at 6:12 am Link to this comment

Kadaffi: He also denounced as fabrications the U.S. cables revealed by WikiLeaks that detailed Ben Ali’s corruption. (A WikiLeaks cable had reported on Gadhafi’s own foibles, including his voluptuous, ever-present Ukrainian nurse.)

Goodness gracious. Ben Ali had no entry on Facebook, so he was flying under our conventional radar screens?

Of course not. His life-style, the arrogance of his wife and her pirate-family that plundered the Tunisian economy were well-known and published (on the Internet) by Tunisian exiles in Paris. In French, mind you, so maybe that’s why the international press did not pick them up?

Why the American media outlets did not investigate the Great Pillage of Tunisia that has been happening for the past 20 years is anybody’s guess. Plutocrats are in such great favor in America they’re prime-time celebrities. Maybe that’s why?

POST SCRIPTUM

Baby Doc Duvalier, a thief from a previous era, has returned to Haiti. Where’s the American press on this one? Asleep?

The guy has been spending his life in the south of France and suddenly he feels a nostalgic attachment for his native country-in-need. Remember, he is reported to have absconded with nearly 900 million dollars (given Haiti in aid).

He returned to the country two-days ago telling reporters that he had returned to “help Haiti”. Nice talk, but what about the numerous requests of the Haitian government to recuperate the stolen funds during his 25-year exile in France —to which the French authorities have never responded?

And he is in the country for what purpose and on who’s behest? To set himself up as dictator once again?

How did he get into a country from which he is a fugitive?

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