Tunisia and Steps to Overthrow the Dictator Ben Ali
For two weeks expanding protests have been taking place in Tunisia initially flaring in the state of Sidi Bouzid. Security forces confronted protestors, arresting lawyers and activists who were in the forefront of the demonstrators. Police and demonstrators scuffled briefly as up to 1,000 Tunisians held a rare rally calling for jobs in a show of solidarity with youths protesting in poorer regions.
The protests prompted Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali to promise that all responsible for the protests would be severely punished, describing those accountable as extremists and instigators, accusing them of spreading violence and riots in the streets.
According to Rashid Ghannouchi, Islamic intellectual, and leader of Tunisia’s Al-Nahda Islamic Movement, Rashid Ghannouchi accused President Zine El Abidine Ali’s ruling regime as being widely responsible for the aggravation and escalating events taking place in the country; stressing that the protests came about as a result of the unemployment crisis and against the backdrop of demands for better economic conditions.
Ghannouchi stressed in a statement to the Muslim Brotherhood’s website, Ikhwanweb that the regime must bear responsibility for the bloodshed after it continued to strip the country’s citizens of their livelihood, stressing that anger erupted because young people feel their horizons are blocked, and because of a sense of injustice. He slammed the tactics used by the regime as security forces faced protestors firing live bullets at them.
He accused Europe of being a partner in advocating such a leader, calling on the European and Islamic nations to unite with the oppressed and to stand in the face of a country suffering under corrupt authority, which does not hesitate to fire live bullets at people whose only crime was demanding their most basic rights; the right to live.
Also speaking to Ikhwanweb, coordinator of the International Campaign for Human Rights in Tunisia, Ben Arfa, highlighted that the events taking place in Tunisia follow the anger by the people after they suffered failed economic and social decisions by the government and the absence of equitable distribution of wealth. He added that the authority’s failure to benefit from the lesson of the previous wave and the frequency of disregarding calls by the opposition and civil society forces will only result in dire consequences which will threaten the future of the country. Ben Arfa stressed that the crisis would only end through constructive national dialogue. He expressed disappointment with the President’s speech where Ben Ali hoped to emerge from the crisis by insisting on a solution based on security.
An article in the Guardian commented on the large protests taking place in Tunisia, says writer Brian Whitaker in his article in this regard:
That a small incident where a man committed suicide because of unemployment has become the catalyst for a wave of mass protests taking place in Tunisia, could possibly threaten the end of the presidency of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.
The writer goes on to say that most Arab regimes are based on patronage networks in order to stay in power, but the base of support of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, seems relatively small and fragile, as WikiLeaks has uncovered documents highlighting that Washington believes that the regime in Tunisia must communicate with the people, and tolerate any advice or criticism concerning the rampant corruption in the country.