France okayed tear gas as Tunisia revolt peaked
Tue Feb 1, 2011
By Brian Love
PARIS, Feb 1 (Reuters) – France, on the defensive ever since it offered Tunisia its crowd control know-how as protestors died in the streets, risks further embarrassment after the revelation on Tuesday that it authorised tear gas exports at that time too.
Prime Minister Francois Fillion acknowledged in a letter to a member of parliament that permits for tear gas exports were granted as late as Jan. 12, two days before Tunisian President Zine al-Abdine Ben Ali fled in the face of a popular uprising. Continue reading
Bloodshed, tears, but no democracy. Bloody turmoil won’t necessarily presage the dawn of democracy
By Robert Fisk
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
The end of the age of dictators in the Arab world? Certainly they are shaking in their boots across the Middle East, the well-heeled sheiks and emirs, and the kings, including one very old one in Saudi Arabia and a young one in Jordan, and presidents – another very old one in Egypt and a young one in Syria – because Tunisia wasn’t meant to happen. Food price riots in Algeria, too, and demonstrations against price increases in Amman. Not to mention scores more dead in Tunisia, whose own despot sought refuge in Riyadh – exactly the same city to which a man called Idi Amin once fled.
If it can happen in the holiday destination Tunisia, it can happen anywhere, can’t it? It was feted by the West for its “stability” when Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali was in charge. The French and the Germans and the Brits, dare we mention this, always praised the dictator for being a “friend” of civilised Europe, keeping a firm hand on all those Islamists.
Tunisians won’t forget this little history, even if we would like them to. The Arabs used to say that two-thirds of the entire Tunisian population – seven million out of 10 million, virtually the whole adult population – worked in one way or another for Mr Ben Ali’s secret police. They must have been on the streets too, then, protesting at the man we loved until last week. But don’t get too excited. Yes, Tunisian youths have used the internet to rally each other – in Algeria, too – and the demographic explosion of youth (born in the Eighties and Nineties with no jobs to go to after university) is on the streets. But the “unity” government is to be formed by Mohamed Ghannouchi, a satrap of Mr Ben Ali’s for almost 20 years, a safe pair of hands who will have our interests – rather than his people’s interests – at heart. Continue reading
Arab Leaders Keep a Wary Eye on Tunisia
New York Times, January 18, 2011
Abdo Abdel Moneim, a 50-year-old restaurant owner, set himself ablaze outside Parliament on Monday in downtown Cairo.(reuters)
CAIRO — From the crowded, run-down streets of Cairo to the oil-financed halls of power in Kuwait, Arab leaders appear increasingly rattled by the unfolding events in Tunisia and elsewhere in the Arab world, where men continued to set themselves on fire — two more in Egypt on Tuesday, and a third who was stopped.
Though the streets of Cairo, Algiers and other Arab cities around the region were calm, the acts of self-immolation served as a reminder that the core complaints of economic hardship and political repression that led to the Tunisian uprising resonated strongly across the Middle East.
“You have leaders who have been in power for a very long time, one party controlling everything, marginalization of the opposition, no transfer of power, plans for succession, small groups running the business, vast corruption,” said Emad Gad, a political scientist at the Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies. “All of this makes the overall environment ripe for an explosion at any second.” Continue reading
Jan. 15 2011
By JEFFREY CARR, FORBES
On Friday, January 14, 2011, after almost 30 days of increasingly violent protests and government efforts to qwell them, the President of Tunisia Zine el Abidine BEN ALI, who had been in power for 23 years, fled the country. The Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi assumed control of the government and declared a state of emergency. The “Jasmine Revolution” had begun, and immediately made history as Tunisia became the first nation in the Arab world to have its leader removed through a popular uprising of its citizens or, more precisely, its netizens thanks to Tunisia’s modern communications infrastructure, pervasive Internet access and a completely digitized mobile phone network.
BEN ALI’s repressive regime against journalists dates back a long time but the spark for this revolution was the self-immolation of a street vendor named Mohamed Bouazizi on December 17th. Ethan Zuckerman has a great article about events in Tunisia wherein he describes what happened next:
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. But riots have spread from Sidi Bouzid across the country, and the government has responded by closing the high schools and universities, arresting those they perceive to be ringleaders and imposing a curfew. Global Voices contributor Slim Amamou was one of those arrested on January 6th – we’ve not heard from him or been informed of the charges.”
Besides physical protests and demonstrations, many Tunisians used social media to vent their outrage which prompted an increase in an already repressive government censorship program run by the state’s one ISP – the Tunisia Internet Agency. Continue reading
Protesters gather in Tunis. Tunisian President Zine el Abidine ben Ali stepped aside after 23 years of rule amid escalating protests. (Zohra Bensemra, REUTERS / January 15, 2011)
The ouster of Tunisian President Zine el Abidine ben Ali emboldens protesters in other Arab countries, but — lacking a galvanizing event — there is doubt that Internet-fueled movements can seriously challenge entrenched regimes in the Middle East.
Rioting spreads across Tunisia; unrest also reported in Algeria
By Jeffrey Fleishman and Amro Hassan, Los Angeles Times
January 15, 2011
Reporting from Cairo — Hours after riots forced Tunisian President Zine el Abidine ben Ali to flee his country, hundreds of Egyptians poured into the streets of Cairo with a warning to their own authoritarian president, Hosni Mubarak.
“Ben Ali, tell Mubarak a plane is waiting for him too,” they chanted late Friday night. “We are next. Listen to the Tunisians; it’s your turn, Egyptians.”
The slogans were a burst of envy and elation in a country where people have protested for years but have never ignited a mass movement to threaten Mubarak’s nearly 30-year-old police state. Dissidents were finally daring to contemplate the possibility that public anger really could explode with dramatic change. Continue reading