The Counter-revolution Spreads: First Egypt, Now Tunisia
Several months after the world rejoiced following the 2011 Arab Spring took the world by storm, and replaced one dictator in the MENA region with what appears to be another now that the US-endorsed "democratically elected" Mursi is better known as Morsillini, having granted himself "temporary" dictatorial powers, we warned that it was only a matter of time before the Arab Spring turns into an Arab Thermodorian Reaction, aka an Arab Counterrevolution. And this time the world is devoid of such romantic concepts as a season of the year to tie this logical reaction to, as it now appears certain that this is going to be a long and drawn out process, lasting not only longer than just one season, but stretching years. Sure enough, after Egypt succumbed to the inevitable power vacuum response, it is now the turn of the place that started it all: Tunisia, where the local national guard is firing against its own people once more.
Reuters reports that "Tunisian security forces fired tear gas and live rounds into the air on Saturday to try to disperse thousands of protesters in a town that has seen days of clashes over economic hardship. National guard forces belonging to the Interior Ministry fired tear gas and rounds from inside armoured personnel carriers in the town of Siliana, southwest of Tunis....At least 252 people have been wounded by birdshot, according to state news agency TAP. Medical sources say 17 have been blinded." Sadly, when violence leads to hope and the hope fades, it is time to revert back to the violence.
"Get out, get out!", "With our blood and soul we sacrifice ourselves for you, Siliana" and "Siliana will be the graveyard of the Ennahda party" the protesters, who numbered about 3,000, chanted while throwing stones at security forces.
Police chased protesters down streets.
The Islamist Ennahda party that won Tunisia's first post-Arab Spring election last year is struggling to revive the economy of the north African state due to lower trade with the crisis-hit euro zone.
Disputes also continue between secularists and hardline Salafi Islamists over the future direction of the country.
Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki asked the Islamist Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali in an address on state television on Friday to appoint a new cabinet in response to the protests.
On Saturday, Jebali seemed poised to remove the controversial Siliana governor to ease tensions. A statement on state news agency TAP said a deputy had been put in charge of the governorate's affairs pending a "final decision".
The protests are the fiercest since Salafis attacked the U.S. embassy in Tunis in September over an anti-Islam film made in California. Four people were killed in that violence.
And in a complete shock to everyone who believes in the now defunct concept of democracy, it appears that one dictator is no beter than another, in a world in which cheap plantiful credit is no longer available for anyone and everyone to emulate that much vaunted American lifestyle where the average credit card debt is tens of thousands per capita:
Navi Pillay, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, said on Friday authorities must stop using firearms against demonstrators, in some of her harshest criticisms of the government elected after veteran ruler Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali fled was overthrown in January last year.
The tactics used to put down the protests have stirred anger among secular politicians in Tunisia, who say the new government is adopting the kind of harsh policing employed by Ben Ali.
So much for the Tunisian revolution. One can only hope that the CIA is more adept at placing a replacement puppet dictators who does a better job than the previous guy.
As for Egypt...
Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi called a Dec. 15 referendum on a draft constitution and urged a national dialogue on the "concerns of the nation" as the country nears the end of the transition from Hosni Mubarak's rule.
Mursi was speaking after receiving the final draft of the constitution from the Islamist-dominated constituent assembly.
"I am issuing my decision to call people for a referendum on the draft constitution on Saturday, Dec. 15," Mursi said in an address to the constituent assembly that approved its final draft on Friday before handing it to Mursi.
Mursi hopes approval of a full constitution approved in a popular referendum will end a crisis over his assumption of sweeping powers by decree.
Mursi may want to learn a lesson or two from the Eurozone: when usurping supreme control from the people, demanding a popular validation of such a fresh dictatorial aspiration is probably not a good idea. Recall how quickly poor former Greek PM G-Pap lost his job when he threatened to ask his people directly if they wanted to be part of a grand technocratic monetarist experiment lead by unelected central planners.
Which only means that the Egypt conflict will get even more acute until one day in the next 1-2 weeks someone remembers, as in 2011, that the Suez Canal is a rather critical point of geographic interest in times when political control in Egypt is falling apart.