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Tunisia Riots
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Dictatorship will be back
Op-ed: Despite revolution, Tunisia to remain a dictatorship, as Arab world incapable of democracy
The revolution’s dramatic moments and images (al-Jazeera did an excellent job) were interspersed with discussions about three clauses in Tunisia’s constitution: Clause 56 pertains to the president’s permanent inability to serve, clause 57 pertains to long-term inability, and clause 50 pertains to the question of what to do when the president is alive a well but is forced to stay away from home.

 

The Tunisians are unfamiliar with this situation. For 23 years, they were dominated by the rule of dictator Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali. Those who did not like the tyrant’s iron fist and those who protested when the greedy fingers of the first lady and her associates found their way into their pockets found themselves in prison, by the thousands.

 

The enlightened world was familiar with much of this violent conduct, but nobody got excited over it. How can anyone speak out against favorable data about a prosperous economy and flourishing tourism industry? Yet over the weekend we learned all of a sudden that only the families at the top of the pyramid and their loyalists reaped the rewards.

 

Memories of Saddam

Suddenly, and amazingly quickly, the old dictator was discarded of. Ben Eli will not be returning to Tunisia; you can count on Saudi Arabia to ensure that. Yet we must say, regrettably, that in the foreseeable future things will remain the same in Tunisia.

 

Democracy does not fall from the skies. The corrupt figures escaped, yet the old guard takes its place behind the microphones, the army patrols the streets with tanks, and the close associates are back in control. They promised elections, but they are already working on ensuring the results. They swear that a national unity government will be formed, yet Tunisia’s opposition again remains out of it, while the tyrant’s closest associate is trying to take over his seat in order to bring Ben Ali back after all.

 

On Saturday, one could not but think about the dramatic chapter in the story of Saddam Hussein’s fall. Ben Ali also maintained a regime of fear. Wealth and politics joined forces in Tunis just like they did in Baghdad. The two tyrants crowded the prisons, filled up their pockets, and silenced their opposition.

 

Ultimately, sad experience shows us that the Arab world is incapable of producing a new spirit and is unable to establish a democracy for itself.

 

 

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