As the year winds down, one must wonder again about the state of the Arab street. Past years witnessed quiescence and relative calm. 2010 may stand as an exception as Tunisia is arguably enduring one of its most spontaneous revolt against the despotic regime of Ben 'Ali. For the past few weeks, the oft marginalized town of Sidi Bouzid has been under the brunt of the police assault of the Tunisian authorities. The protests were triggered by the attempted suicide by immolation on December 17 by unemployed 26-year old man Mohamed Bouazizi. The riots that followed are wholesale rejection of the socio-economic plight of millions of Tunisians lingering in poverty, unemployment and bleak future. The demonstrations are also a rejection of the corrupt and clientelistic regime of Ben 'Ali.
Friday, December 31, 2010
Ben 'Ali condemned the rioters and vowed to create more jobs for the thousands of unemployed youths. Ben 'Ali also pledged that "the law will be applied in all firmness" to punish "a minority of extremists and mercenaries who resort to violence and disorder." Mr. Ben 'Ali, what about your own mercenaries and thugs that have assaulted civilians? Ben 'Ali seemingly does not recognize that this is not a minority of Tunisians, but the majority of his own citizens that are reaching the zenith of their frustration with his police state and dictatorial rule. The riots in Sidi Bouzid soon escalated to other towns outside the capital Tunis, including Kairouan and Ben Guerdane.
This blogger is firmly in support of the brave Tunisians that are rioting against arguably one of the most brutal regimes in the Arab world. Stay steadfast in your fight and protests. As the year 2010 comes to a close, Ben 'Ali should carefully ponder his list of new year resolutions. Top priority on that list must be to loosen up the grip of his mukhabarat state on Tunisia. His tyrannical rule can only be sustained for so long without a mass volcanic-like social eruption.