The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

Don't forget about Tunisia

I think I forgot to post my long article about Tunisia last week that appeared in The National:

No one knows where Tunisia's revolution is headed. Not ordinary Tunisians who, a fortnight after the departure of their dictator of 23 years, Zine al-Abedine Ben Ali, are eager for a return to normality and the opportunity to earn a living in what will remain a battered economy. Not the young activists, many of them new to dissent, who express their euphoria on Avenue Habib Bourguiba, Tunis's main thoroughfare. Not the wealthy elite, who from their villas in Tunis's lavish suburbs largely welcome the fall of Ben Ali, though they fret about the direction the revolution might take and want to see their factories reopen. And not the politicians and technocrats who - together with one blogger who is a member of the Pirate Party, an international movement of hackers best known for their defence of illegal downloading - form the interim government. Their coalition is tasked with preparing for elections within six months. It may not last that long, at least in its current shape.

Perhaps not even Rachid Ammar can guess the course the revolution will take, though it was him, as the general at the head of the military, who refused to fire on protesters and is widely said to have told Ben Ali that his time was up. Tunisia is still in flux, and will remain so for some time.

There's been a lot of updates in Tunisia since, of course, not least of which is that the army has called up reservists to deal with the ongoing security situation and rebellion against governors, police commissioners and other figures of authority in the region. I feel Tunisia might be a preview of what will come in Egypt, both positive and negative, so it's well worth keeping an eye on.