The Tunisian intifada

Posted on January 21, 2011 | View 706

Democratic Hope Blooms In West Asia 

Events in Tunisia are of far greater import for West Asia,and the Arab world in particular,than the immediate fact of a peoples revolt forcing a head of state out of power.For one,it is a rare example of people trying to force out a regime,rather than yet another coup effecting regime change.Two,this is,patently,a secular uprising,not something instigated by Islamism,the spectre of which is often deployed by the West and the ruling elites in West Asia to maintain the status quo.Three,not without reason,therefore,are events in Tunisia a cause for worry for many of the authoritarian regimes in West Asia.For long,the joke among Arabs has been that thawra(revolution ) is something often heard about in the Arab street,never quite seen.And while some are calling this the jasmine revolution,quite a few Arabs are also calling it the Tunisian intifada.The latter,in its sense of an uprising,not yet a realised revolution,might be more factual.The old regime hasnt quite disappeared,even though former President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and his family fled the country with,literally,more than a ton of gold.Elements from that old structure are still trying to hang on to power after protests continued over the coalition government retaining key ministers from the previous cabinet,some of those ministers have resigned from the RCD,the former presidents party.

But reports aver political prisoners have been freed,and that political cartoons,part of a new-found journalistic freedom,are appearing in local newspapers.But Tunisians are demanding nothing short of a total break with the past,and with it an end to the economic mismanagement that was the immediate catalyst for the uprising,as well as an end to the repressive internal security apparatus.To that end,there can be no feasible option apart from holding free and fair elections as soon as possible.For now,though,the Tunisian intifada has offered hope of a wider,secular Arab democratisation long denied to the people both due to western support for the regions authoritarian rulers and the latters using Israel and Islamists as an excuse to maintain their grip.

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