Open thread, MIC, Tunisia, etc

I am in North Carolina for much of the weekend, presenting at this conference on the military-industrial complex.
Amazing yesterday, driving down here, to hear so many great news reports on the car radio about the unraveling of one small corner of the complex, in Tunisia. There may yet be bloody attempts at a counter-revolution there, of course. But the “big guns” of the MIC are all pretty much well tied up elsewhere and the credibility of the U.S. imperial venture in the region has been in tatters for a long time…
So anyway, this space is for comments. I’ll even try to turn the “pre-moderation” switch off. But I rely on you all to stick to the discourse guidelines. Otherwise, it’ll be instant IP banning for any violators.

11 thoughts on “Open thread, MIC, Tunisia, etc”

  1. Although there are many other autocratic/despotic regimes in the area, I am certain that all US resources are now being turned on Egypt and Jordan to avoid any outbreak of democracy there.

  2. Immediate Revolutionary Tasks in Tunisia
    First of all, our party intends to remain in opposition, and not to enter the next government, although two of our allies in the Alliance for Citizenship and Equality plan to take part in a government of national unity (namely the Ettajdid Movement and the Democratic Forum).
    Our tasks:
    1) To neutralise the criminal gangs which are indulging in plunder and aggression, and which are like a kind of “tontons macoutes” of the old regime;
    2) To support the creation in each district of Citizens’ Committees for Civic Defence to defend people and property from these “tontons macoutes”;
    3) To require the return of the police force and the army to their barracks as soon as possible, and the end of the curfew and the state of emergency;
    4) To create a commission of inquiry to locate the persons who were responsible for the use of live rounds [against civilians during the uprising];
    5) To create a commission of inquiry with the power to expropriate the beneficiaries of corruption and illicit enrichment;
    6) To create a national commission on total reform of the electoral code, the press code, and the law concerning political parties.
    7) To secure the legalisation of the Patriotic and Democratic Party of Labour and other civil organizations.
    Tunis, 15 January 2011.
    Khaled Falah, member of the founding committee of the Patriotic and Democratic Party of Labour of Tunisia [Parti du Travail Patriotique et Démocratique de Tunisie].

  3. The Will of Life
    If the people will to live
    Providence is destined to favourably respond
    And night is destined to fold
    And the chains are certain to be broken
    And he who has not embraced the love of life
    Will evaporate in its atmosphere and disappear.
    Abu Al Qasim Al Shabi, 1909-1934
    [Tunisian poet]
    Thanks to As’ad AbuKhalil for the translation

  4. from angry arab:
    Mossad in Tunisia
    We will soon learn more about how the Mossad had a free hand in Tunisia and how members of the Bin Ali secret police facilitated the movement of Mossad’s terrorist hit teams in the country.
    Tourists? Lies of the Israeli media about the Mossad station in Tunisia (most likely)
    “A group of 20 Israelis was rescued Saturday evening from Tunisia, where a violent uprising has succeeded in overturning the government. The complicated mission was orchestrated by a number of Israeli authorities, including the Foreign Ministry. The tourists were first transferred to a third country, from where are to continue to Israel by plane.” Tourist, my potato.

  5. With Tunisia’s reputation as something of a stable but sleepy backwater, the events of recent weeks have come as a complete surprise to the world. The uprising remains in flux, its ultimate outcome unclear, and there is no certainty that the country is on its way to a democratic transition, let alone a smooth one. However, the demonstration effect of this uprising is likely not lost on the region’s aging autocrats. A pilot who refused to fly Ben Ali’s family out of Tunisia, interviewed on live television, explained that they were “war criminals.” As the region’s other autocratic rulers retire to bed, this forthright message will be a chilling reminder that their people’s quiescence is not guaranteed, nor is it the same thing as legitimacy. If nothing else, the protests have demonstrated that an Arab head-of-state can be toppled from below and, for leaders as well as activists, have expanded popular notions of the possible. While the U.S. invasion of Iraq and the protests of the “green movement” in Iran have had far-ranging regional ramifications, when it comes to promoting Arab democracy, Tunisia’s 2011 uprising may eclipse them both.

    Will Tunisia Be a Turning Point for Arab Democracy?

  6. According to Haaretz today, Netanyahu has a new reason for refusing to consider real peace – the uprising in Tunisia to throw out the despot. In only slightly veiled language, Netanyahu expresses Israel’s fear that the Arab world might go democratic. This would be dangerous for Israel. Not only would democratic regimes not be as friendly and submissive toward Israel’s colonization of Palestine, Israel would lose its fanciful claim of being the “only democracy” in the region.

  7. A couple of questions:
    what role do women play in the Tunisian Revolution?
    will to be possible for a coalition government containing Islam and Marxist parties to work together?
    thank you,

  8. Women have also been demonstrating in Egypt today – see photos on Al Jazeera web site.
    Biggest demos in Egypt for 40 years, they say.
    Big enough? We’ll see.

  9. Tunisia: West could scupper genuine democracy with ‘Islamic alternative’
    Samir Amin
    Samir Amin discusses the Tunisian uprising and the country’s prospects for building ‘a democratic government supported by the people’, in an interview with Aydinlik Magazine.
    Professor Samir Amin, respected political thinker, economist and writer, evaluates developments in Tunisia in an interview with Aydinlik Magazine. We also asked Samir Amin his views about Hu Jintao’s visit to USA and currency policy of the China. We present a broad summary of the interview with Amin, who answered our questions from Dakar by telephone.
    AYDINLIK: How do you interpret the movement in Tunisia?
    SAMIR AMIN: The events of Tunisia must be interpreted as a very powerful popular movement uprising, a general uprising. About 80 per cent of the population of the country in many areas including in the capital were out in the streets for 45 days and continue to do so. They carried on their protests in spite of the repression and did not give up. This movement has political, societal and economic dimensions. Ben Ali regime was one of the most repressive police regimes in the world. Thousands of people in Tunisia were assassinated, arrested and tortured, but Western powers best friend never allowed these facts to be known. The Tunisian people want democracy, respect of rights.
    Economic and social factors were also influential in the uprising of the people. The country experiences rapidly escalating unemployment, particularly of youth, including educated young people. The standard of living of the majority of the population is decreasing, in spite of the growth of the GDP praised by World Bank and international Agencies. Growing inequality explains it. The influence of the mafia type of organisation is also another important factor. The system was managed to the almost exclusive benefit of the Ben Ali family and its organisation.
    There is another aspect of the movement that is very interesting. The Islamic influence was not effective in the uprising. Tunisia is really a secular country. People manage to keep religion and politics separate. This is very important and positive. It was said Ben Ali protected the country from fundamentalist Muslims. He used this argument very effectively for many years. Actually it wasn’t Ben Ali but the people that protected the country from fundamentalists.
    The fact that the army wasn’t against the people gave strength to the people in the streets. The Ben Ali government gave support and financial aid to the police not the army. This is why the police played such an important role in the suppression of the events in the past.
    AYDINLIK: Who or which power leading this movement?
    AMIN: I want to emphasise again this movement doesn’t belong to a particular group of people. This is a popular general movement. There are no foreign countries or groups behind it. It is social in essence. However it must be said that the Western powers will try to create an Islamic alternative and will try to support a movement of this sort in order to avoid a really democratic alternative. They already have started to do it, re introducing in the country the language of ‘Saudi Arabia’ as some commentators of the Tunisian people have already said.
    It is very difficult to try to guess what the future holds for the country. For sure the establishment of a democratic and secular regime is not easy. Assuming the best – that is a democratic government supported by the people – (and that is not absolutely guaranteed), such a government will be confronted with the economic and social challenge: How to associate this democratisation of the political management with social progress? That is not easy. Tunisia’s ‘success’ for some time was based on three sources: The delocalisation of some light industries from Europe, tourism, mass out migration to Libya and Europe. Now those three channels have reached their ceiling and even start to be reversed. By which macro policy they could be replaced? Not easy to imagine for a small country, vulnerable and with little resources (no oil!). Solidarity and South-South cooperation might turn to be vital for an alternative. The Western powers will do all they can to have the democratic regime unsuccessful in this respect, and create therefore conditions favourable for a false ‘Islamic alternative’, labelled ‘moderate’.
    AYDINLIK: China President Hu Jintao met with Obama in Washington. Before going to USA, Hu Jintao said that the ‘system dominated by dollar is the product of past’. What is your opinion?
    AMIN: China may smile towards the Americans but the will never compromise their policies. The winner of the Hu Jintao-Obama meeting was Hu Jinto, as was expected. China did not make any concession with respect to their independent management of their currency, the yuan. The life expectancy of the dollar that rules the international monetary system will come to an end, sooner or later. Chinese are well aware of this. Yet for the time being China doesn’t suggest to create a different alternative global currency (Chinese understand that this is not mature and therefore remains an illusion). China is concentrating at the moment on developing relatively free and independent regional alliances. China will struggle for such realistic possible answers to the challenge: Reinforcing regional agreements in Asia and Latin America, not on a global level.

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