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International Issues/ Economy/ Foreign Affairs

Will Tunisia cause a ripple effect?

I lived for 4 years in the Middle East on overseas job assignment, prior to my return to India after my marriage! So, I have seen the benefits as well as the drawbacks for public in general, under an authoritarian regime ( though ‘monarchy’ is a better term in KSA)! In such a regime, there is not much room for public dissent. This fact was experienced by most of us, friends and colleagues, during our stay in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. It is another thing, Saudi Arabia was well ruled by King Fahd and he contributed to it leading the Arab world in terms of economy, trade and Arab culture. But, what happens if monarchy rule turns to be autocratic, with no good interest for its people? This is what happened in Tunisia. For long, there has been youth unemployment ( leading to self-immolation in their protests), poverty conditions, autocracy and absence of human rights in there.

Interpol, the international police agency, has confirmed that its National Central Bureau in Tunisia has issued a ‘global’ alert to seek the location and arrest the 74 year old ousted president of Tunisia, Zine El Ben Ali and six of his relatives. In addition, the National Central Bureau is asking its “member countries to search, locate and provisionally arrest” Ben Ali and the relatives with a view to their extradition to Tunis. If and when the individuals are located, Tunisian authorities will forward any formal request for extradition via diplomatic channels,” Interpol said.(Source:CNN News Report)

Zine El Ben Ali, who ruled Tunisia since 1987, fled (he vanished!) to Saudi Arabia earlier this month amid mass public protests against the government for corruption, poor living conditions, high unemployment and repression.The grass-roots protest has strengthened people in Egypt and Algeria to take their complaints to the streets. It also has generated admiration across the world.

President Barack Obama, in his state union address, made reference to Ben Ali’s rule, saying “the will of the people proved more powerful than the writ of a dictator.” But, the Western world, particularly the United States, should tread ahead with care and forethought; do not interfere in the process taking shape to form Interim government in Tunisia – in a haste to bring upon democracy. Tunisia has to solve its problems on its own! By interfering, US will invite only criticism of its foreign policy and face failure like experienced in Iraq and Afghanistan. More than 100 people have died in Tunis, by protesting in recent weeks; there have been protests regularly in Tunisia, which gained its independence from France in 1956.

What needs to be watched is – whether the present situation in Tunisia will create a ripple effect in other Middle East countries like Jordan, Egypt, Algeria, Yemen, Israel – facing public unrest for long? Will there be meaningful political reforms in Tunis and how far the newly formed interim government be successful in bringing justice to the table, liberalize media, or will the autocratic ‘army’ rule will continue under a different leader?

Will Tunisia change now?

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About Raman Ramamurthy

I am a Management consultant, an avid reader, play Lawn tennis in my leisure time and love Music. Presently, I am settled in India along with my wife and my son.

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