Cause: The Jasmine Revolution. The Tunisians have had enough of the soaring food prices, the crippling unemployment rates, the ostentatious extravagant lives the tiny ruling family enjoy, and the constant fear/censorship of any political dialogue. They want a democracy and for 29 days of peaceful protests, they have succeeded in making Ben Ali run for his life.
Special Mention: On December 17th, Mohamed Bouazizi, the 26 year old from rural Sidi Bouzid, who couldn't take any more of his unbearably shitty life, set fire to himself after authorities once again confiscated his vegetable stall on the grounds that he was not licensed. The police insulted and slapped him around a bit as well, getting their fill of fun for the day. Bouazizi had a university degree but unable to find a job, supported his family by selling vegetables. His sacrifice served as the catalyst to the Tunisian protests/intifada.
Ben Ali's wife: Leila Trabelsi, she of the "wooden smile" and parasitical mafia family. Most of her extended family have huge businesses run by state funds, and they get their way because It's Trabelsi dude. If the name won't send you vomiting up five 'democratic' terms of Ben Ali's regime, here's what they've been doing while the rest of the population wallow in misery.
- Freight ice cream from St Tropez for a dinner party
- Feed four chickens a day to a caged tiger in one of their homes
- Own a large stash of fancy expensive cars
- Own a string of ostentatious villas
- Get away with murder and other crimes, because corruption is a sport
- Swim in molten gold
Tunisians barely concealed their immense hatred of the first lady and small wonder.
On the run: Ben Ali's plane first headed toward the Arabian Gulf countries before it changed course and made way for Paris, France. Sarkozy gave them the finger so the plane moved on to Sardinia, where it wasn't given permission to land. After circling around and non applicable diplomatic calls, the plane landed in Saudi Arabia, the camel jockey haven of murderers and mad men. Duh!
Reaction of the West: The imperial powers that be have been gob-smacked by the rapidity and success of this intifada, and wasted no time in assuring the world that the Tunisian people have a right to democracy and that they have been neutral during this historical achievement etc. Then they can cosy up to the newly elected President and presumably go about their business by attempting to pull his strings.
One positive thing (in the long run) about an uptight controlling authoritarian police state is that opposition political parties are banned. This sounds very undemocratic and all, but this intifada lasted for TWENTY NINE DAYS and has already achieved what it had set out to gain. The people were all united under one main cause and they never lost sight of that because they had no other political affiliation to concern themselves with or to promote this party or that. One thing we've been thinking about...if a man set himself on fire in one of the villages surrounding Ramallah because the Palestinian Authority's security forces have once again after three arrests accused him of causing 'political dissent', what would the Palestinians do? Would they rage and riot, stage peaceful protests until the PA is dissolved, or simply shake their heads, mutter something about the man's insanity, and move on? The sad thing is, we honestly believe people will go with the third option. Maybe it's because they have to wait for old man Abbass to be in power for 23 years before they decide to take any action.
Khubiz, hurriyeh, karama watania. Bread, freedom, national dignity.
Tunisia, please don't eff this up. We don't want to hear reports in two months' time of a new autocratic government and people still finding difficulty buying food or getting a job.
Will Egypt be the next regime to fall in the domino line? Or is this just wishful thinking?