Posted: February 9, 2011 in Current Events

With the new developments in Egypt, it is easy to forget that only a few weeks ago it was Tunisia’s popular revolution which dominated the news.  At that time, it was often said that the events in Tunisia could become a spark that would ignite protest in other Middle Eastern countries.  Truer words…

Ironically, there has been little news about Tunisia since the beginning of the conflict in Egypt.  Latest news states that Mabazaa, who took over from ousted President Ben Ali, has just been granted power to rule by decree,  meaning that he is basically a temporary dictator.  This initially appears as a bad thing, but we have to remember that the General Assembly of the government currently largely consists of supporters of the former president.  They’re not likely to promote the kinds of changes demanded by the Tunisian uprisings.  It should also be remembered that, after the American Revolution, Washington was given the power to rule (admittedly, not by decree) for years before elections were held and he was democratically confirmed as president.  This kind of post revolution situation is not unusual, and is probably necessary.

The wisdom of giving this kind of power to the new Tunisian President will be shown over time.  His current goals seem honest.  Mebazaa wants to bring in human rights legislation and organize political parties in preparation of new elections.  He has order Social Services in the country to distribute welfare funds to the unemployed and sick until more economically sound measures can be established.  Cleaning up this kind of a mess is never easy, probably requires some autocratic decision making, and won’t be accomplished without some heavy handed mob control.  The population, seeing change in the works, will be impatient and will have to be controlled.  Desperation and a measure of ignorance will assure this.

In the meantime, tourism, which is one of Tunisia’s prime sources of income, has seen a 50% decrease.  If the country is to have the economic foundation on which to rebuild a better live, this source of income will be crucial.  A group of travel agents and vacation promotors are visiting the country this week in order to quickly reestablish the tourist industry as soon as possible, possibly by March.

Other than that, there is little news available on the development in Tunisia, which is a shame.  Hopefully the media doesn’t abandon it for Egypt as the new “fad for the week”.  Tunisia has had a noble revolution, -a groundswell of the people.  It deserves whatever subtle and diplomatic support that the western world can provide without violating its sovereignty.  It provides an opportunity for the kind of positive foreign affairs assistance that will make a difference rather than muscle in to take advantage of the situation.  And, make no mistake, a pro-democratic groundswell in Middle Eastern countries is a good development, -except perhaps for those western companies who have made their fortunes along side the totalitarian, oppressive leadership that is being swept away.


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