Tunisia's popular revolution far from settled
The Jasmine Revolution is a work in progress, to say the least. Khairi Abaza of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies put it this way: "The regime is trying to make a cosmetic change to stay in power, the unity government is falling apart and the streets don't seem to let go."
Among the changes yesterday were the resignation of the interim president, Fouad Mabzaa, and Prime Minister Mohammed Ghannouchi from the ruling party (Constitutional Democratic Rally). Meanwhile, opposition figures in exile are vowing to oppose a government that includes former members of Ben Ali's government:
Moncef Marzouki, an exiled opposition leader and presidential hopeful, on Monday branded his country's new government a "masquerade" still dominated by supporters of ousted strongman Ben Ali.
"Tunisia deserved much more," the secular leftist declared.
"Ninety dead, four weeks of real revolution, only for it to come to this? A unity government in name only because, in reality, it is made up of members of the party of dictatorship, the CRD," Marzouki said. . . .
Rachid al-Ghannouchi (no relation to Mohamed Ghannouchi), the exiled leader of the Nahdha Movement party, told London-based Asharq Alawsat newspaper that leaders of his party had not been invited to participate in the negotiations in forming the so-called unity government.
He expressed anger at the exclusion, but said his party would consider joining the government if asked to do so.
As all of this is going on, order has not been re-established on the streets, as thousands protested and police resorted to tear gas in Tunis. In sum, the opposition and citizenry want a complete break with the past, while remnants of the Ben Ali government are struggling to hold on.
Now a final note: The left blogosphere seems to have wigged out over the suggestion that George W. Bush and the successful emergence of a secular, democratic Iraq has anything to do with all this. For starters, it is amusing to see that those voices, fresh from the smear on conservatives regarding the Arizona shooting, are now all about "causation." But more seriously, had democracy failed in Iraq, had the country descended into chaos, and had Iraqis laboring for a secular, democratic Muslim country been killed and exiled, do we imagine this would have been good for the prospects of democracy elsewhere? Recall that it was the left that said that democracy was alien to the Middle East. Bush was right; they were wrong. And the notion that democratization and rebellion against despotic regimes do not spread regionally after a successful experiment is belied by history (e.g. Central America, Eastern Europe).
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