Posts tagged ‘Tunisia’

2011/03/03

Analysis: Revolutions, Regime Change, and State Collapse in the Arab World

[Ed. Note: The commentary below, abridged from the original available at the Carnegie Middle East Center, provides an important overview of events unfolding throughout the Middle East and North Africa and should serve to temper those swept up in the emotional exuberance of the Arab Awakening and its potential to reorder the lives of millions. The link to the full article is available at the end.]

Of Revolutions, Regime Change, and State Collapse in the Arab World by Marina Ottaway and David Ottaway

With breathtaking speed, massive popular protests across the Arab world have swept away two Arab strongmen and shaken half a dozen monarchies and republics to their core. But the Arab world has yet to witness any fundamental change in ruling elites and even less in the nature of governance.

Libya now seems poised to be the first country to see a true change in governance, thanks to Muammar Qaddafi’s megalomania and his amorphous jamahiriya (state of the masses). But such change may not have a happy ending. The damage Gaddafi has inflicted on his country is likely to extend well past his demise because he leaves behind a weak state without functioning institutions.

The uprisings sweeping across the Middle East have similar causes and share certain conditions: authoritarian and ossified regimes, economic hardship, and a growing contrast between great wealth and dire poverty, all worsened by the extraordinarily large number of young people who demand a better future. But the consequences will not be the same everywhere.

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2011/03/03

Rebels Repel Pro-Gaddafi Forces In Brega

On TV, Gaddafi Threatens “Bath of Blood”


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In the fierce day-long battle, Libyan rebels were able to repel an aggressive attack launched by Libyan Army forces backed by artillery and war planes against Brega, an oil-refining town approximately 500 miles east of Tripoli.

At least six were confirmed dead with that number expected to rise, according to witnesses cited by the New York Times.

During the day, Muammar Gaddafi made another appearance on state TV. The embattled dictator said that he would “fight until the last man and woman” and warned of “baths of blood” if Western forces intervened.

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2011/02/23

Revolution and the Muslim World


Revolution and the Muslim World by George Friedman

The Muslim world, from North Africa to Iran, has experienced a wave of instability in the last few weeks. No regimes have been overthrown yet, although as of this writing, Libya was teetering on the brink.

There have been moments in history where revolution spread in a region or around the world as if it were a wildfire. These moments do not come often. Those that come to mind include 1848, where a rising in France engulfed Europe. There was also 1968, where the demonstrations of what we might call the New Left swept the world: Mexico City, Paris, New York and hundreds of other towns saw anti-war revolutions staged by Marxists and other radicals. Prague saw the Soviets smash a New Leftist government. Even China’s Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution could, by a stretch, be included. In 1989, a wave of unrest, triggered by East Germans wanting to get to the West, generated an uprising in Eastern Europe that overthrew Soviet rule.

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2011/02/19

Rage, Rap and Revolution

Bobby Ghosh, the author of the below analysis, which focuses on the connections of the younger generation that has just toppled two tyrants, just gave an excellent interview on the Charlie Rose show. One important point he made on the show that is not included in the article is the military’s role in each of the countries experiencing protests.

In Egypt, the Army has traditionally seen its role as the protector of the country. In other states, however, the military’s role is the protection of the regime.

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2011/02/18

Battle Lines Harden Across Mideast, Africa


Security forces and government supporters employed a growing panoply of violent force — from tear gas and batons to shotguns and grenades — in pitched street battles with anti-government protesters in Libya, Bahrain and Yemen on Friday.

The clashes followed a week of deepening unrest as protesters, emboldened by the toppling of President Hosni Mubarak in Egypt and President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali in Tunisia, have called for swift revolutions in their own countries. The battle lines between protesters and authoritarian rulers across the Arab world appeared to be hardening, with governments turning to an increasingly brutal script in trying to quash the protests that have swept the region.

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2011/02/17

Lebanon’s Rivals See What They Want

by Michael Young, author of The Ghosts of Martyrs Square: An Eyewitness Account of Lebanon’s Life Struggle

Although Hizbollah and Iran hailed the ouster of the Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak as a political defeat for their enemies, it is not at all certain that Sunnis in some parts of the Arab world, particularly in Lebanon, were distressed by the transformations in Cairo.

Iran’s satisfaction, and that of its Arab followers, derived from a short-term appraisal that Mr Mubarak’s departure was a setback for the United States. However, nothing yet indicates that Washington has “lost” Egypt. In fact, America’s regional role may be strengthened if its Arab friends become more democratic, or just more pluralistic. After all, the protests in Tunisia and Egypt confirmed the deep detestation for – and therefore the fragility of – an American-led network of regional alliances resting on a foundation of despotism.

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2011/02/15

Leaders Are Gone, But Regimes Are Not


The Presidents Left, the Regimes are Still Here
by Marina Ottaway, Carnegie Middle East Center

The removal from power of Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak were historic moments for the entire Arab world. But the old regimes—the submerged icebergs of personal connections, institutions, and common interests of which the presidents and their immediate entourage were the visible tips—are still there and they are fighting back to retain as much power and control as they can. These are still only the early days of a long process of transition, but it is clear that the battle to disband the regimes will be difficult. In this battle, street protest remains essential.

Early moves by the members of Egypt’s Supreme Council of the Armed Forces suggest that it intends to preserve as much of the regime as it possibly can. It has announced that the present government, composed entirely of Mubarak appointees, will remain in power until the end of a transition period lasting a maximum of six months. It has dissolved the parliament and abrogated the constitution, measures demanded by the opposition because last year’s parliamentary elections were rigged to the point of absurdity and the constitution was designed to protect the regime from real competition and perpetuate its power.

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2011/02/13

The Roar of the Democratic Wave


[Ed. Note: While not all of the recommendations in the following commentary, The Roar of the Democratic Wave, are agreed with, much of the overall analysis is quite insightful. Bold and audacious, de Vasconcelos lays out a path that could keep “the wave” cresting. In regards to the current fast-moving events in Egypt, his call for US pressure on Egypt’s military is absolutely the right one. Mubarak’s not going to budge but if the generals issue orders to shoot protesters, it is a very open question whether they would be carried out.]

The Roar of the Democratic Wave
By Álvaro de Vasconcelos

Has the uprising in Tunisia sparked a new democratic wave that will conquer Egypt and eventually sweep away the authoritarian “Arab exception”? After southern Europe in the 1970’s, Latin America in the late 1980’s, and Central and Eastern Europe in the 1990’s, it seems that now it is the Mediterranean region’s turn. For Europe, democratization immediately to its south is a vital interest.

Zine El Abidine Ben Ali’s ouster in Tunisia signaled the collapse of the Arab “stability” model, praised by many Western leaders, consisting of authoritarianism and overrated economic performance. The surge of anger and revolt in Egypt, whatever its final outcome, marks the beginning of the end for authoritarian nationalist Arab regimes.

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2011/02/10

The West Must Work With Dictators

The uprisings in the Arab world have prompted much hand-wringing among Europeans, who worry that the West has been too lenient with the region’s autocrats. Sometimes, however, tolerating dictators is very much in the West’s best interest.

The popular movements in the Arab world have generated surprisingly little political resonance in the streets of European capitals. There have been no significant expressions of sympathy for the demonstrators, and no angry protests in front of the embassies of those Arab countries where police and security services have shot regime opponents or beaten them to death.

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2011/02/10

Lessons In Social Unrest


Representatives of the young anti-government protestors camped out on Cairo’s Tahrir Square could join talks between the Egyptian government and other opposition leaders on Thursday. The disparate factions on Tahrir Square have resolved their differences and have formed a delegation that includes Egyptian-born Google executive Wael Ghonim, who was recently released from custody.

Ghonim, the head of marketing for Google in the Middle East and North Africa, spent almost two weeks in custody for his role in organizing the protests. Upon his release, he gave an emotional speech honoring the protestors who lost their lives that turned him into the face of the protest movement.

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2011/02/09

Tunisia: Another Black Eye For France

As the crisis unfolded in its former colony, Paris was caught entirely off guard, recalling recent stumbles in Haiti and Ivory Coast.

Whither now French diplomacy? A week after Tunisian President Zine el Abidine ben Ali fled into exile, France has acknowledged being caught off guard by the protest movement that led to the ouster of an autocratic ruler it had supported for 23 years.

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2011/02/07

Tunisia, Egypt: Reporter Relies On Twitter

Knight Digital Media Center

Events in Egypt have been unfolding too fast for traditional narrative-style reporting to keep up. This is where skilled use of social media as a curation tool can help journalists keep up with events—and keep interested audiences in the loop round the clock.

In an interview with Ethan Zuckerman of Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society, NPR senior strategist Andy Carvin explained how he’s been using Twitter to curate many streams of information about the protests in Tunisia and Egypt.

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2011/02/07

Why Tunis, Why Cairo?

Why Tunis, Why Cairo? by Issandr El Amrani

‘Egypt is not Tunisia,’ the pundits repeatedly said on television after Zine Abidine Ben-Ali fled Tunis for Saudi Arabia. They pointed to the differences between the two countries: one small, well-educated, largely middle-class; the other the largest in terms of population in the Arab world, with a high rate of illiteracy and ever widening inequality. Tunisia was a repressive police state in which information was tightly controlled and most people never dared to criticize the leadership out loud. Egypt was a military dictatorship that allowed a fair amount of freedom of expression, as long as it had no political consequences: you could criticize the president, but not launch a campaign to unseat him. In Tunisia, a rapacious first family indulged in widespread racketeering, alienating every social class. In Egypt, most of the elite benefited from the stability the regime maintained, and while corruption was endemic, it was not generally identified with a single clan.

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2011/02/05

Chomsky: US Fears 2nd World Freedom

ED. NOTE: I really don’t want to be associated with many of the fringe-types that follow Noam Chomsky as if he were a demi-God, but I do believe he has a viewpoint worthy of dissemination, and that those who work to suppress his voice are wrong to do so.

It’s Not Radical Islam That Worries the US – It’s Independence
By Noam Chomsky

‘The Arab world is on fire,” al-Jazeera reported last week, while throughout the region, western allies “are quickly losing their influence”. The shock wave was set in motion by the dramatic uprising in Tunisia that drove out a western-backed dictator, with reverberations especially in Egypt, where demonstrators overwhelmed a dictator’s brutal police.

Observers compared it to the toppling of Russian domains in 1989, but there are important differences. Crucially, no Mikhail Gorbachev exists among the great powers that support the Arab dictators. Rather, Washington and its allies keep to the well-established principle that democracy is acceptable only insofar as it conforms to strategic and economic objectives: fine in enemy territory (up to a point), but not in our backyard, please, unless properly tamed.

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2011/02/02

The WikiLeaks Revolt

Ed. Note: Not sure if I’m particularly open to assigning blame to the GW Bush administration for the situation in Egypt – five consecutive administrations have been strongly supportive of Mubarak – but I did appreciate this commentator’s attempt to put some perspective on events.

The current popular unrest in the Arab world has a lot of lessons for Washington. Undoubtedly one of the most jarring is this: The leak of a simple series of cables from a U.S. ambassador in an obscure country — officially condemned by Washington — may have done more to inspire democracy in the Arab world than did a bloody, decade-long, trillion-dollar war effort orchestrated by the United States.

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