Monday, January 17, 2011

Tunisia had a revolution! Did you notice?

"Revolution" is a big word for Americans. Our own nation was founded by a Revolution where our founding fathers wrested control from a monarchy to found a Republic. So, whenever another country cries "Revolution", we are usually quick to sit up and take notice. But not so much with Tunisia, the north-easternmost country in Africa and a neighbor to Libya.

On December 17, a 26 year old Tunisian man named Mohamed Bouazizi reached the end of his rope. An unemployed university graduate, Bouazizi had become a seller of fruits and vegetables in the southern Tunisian town of Sidi Bouzid. When authorities confiscated his wares to punish him for selling without a license, Bouazizi set himself on fire...Bouazizi’s suicide struck a chord with other frustrated Tunisians. Thousands took to the streets in Sidi Bouzid to protest widespread unemployment, government corruption and lack of opportunity. Another frustrated youth in Sidi Bouzid, Lahseen Naji, killed himself by climbing an electricity pylon while crying out “No for misery, no for unemployment!” before grasping the high voltage line. The Tunisian government responded by sending baton and teargas-wielding reinforcements to the city and by promising future economic development projects...The director of Mr. Ben Ali's presidential security force was arrested in the afternoon, and after nightfall army special forces battled armed units loyal to the former president that had holed themselves up in the presidential palace on the outskirts of Tunisia...Tunisia's caretaker prime minister said a new coalition government would be announced Monday that includes members of the country's opposition and some leaders, like himself, from the previous regime—a move that could fill the country's power vacuum and help stabilize the tense North African country.
But America has barely been paying attention, distracted by the shooting in Tucson and the NFL playoffs. Now is the time to catch up with your knowledge of Tunisia as this revolution is expected to have international repercussions, and may trigger other revolutions across Africa.


"Nick" said...

I did notice. I read an article pointing out that this was essentially an Arab dictatorship and pinted out that the people of other dictatorships in the area share similar feelings.

So this could be the beginning of good things happening in that part of the world, with people ready to throw off kings, caliphs and dictators and at least attempt some sort of democratic rule (especially since the current governments are keeping most of the people pretty poor). We'll see.

Nomad said...

Since Libya is next door, it will be interesting to see i Tunisia truly is just the FIRST domino to fall. It also will be interesting to see if they truly form a more representative democracy (their system is parliamentary in theory, but was a dictatorship in reality) of if they just get a new strong man at the top.