Saturday, January 15, 2011

Congratulations, Tunisia!

One of those dictators most appreciated by both the Israeli and American governments had to leave town Friday, the ill-named Zine al-Abedine ("the servant of faith") Ben Ali. For those who haven't followed the story, on December 17th, the police confiscated the fruit and vegetable stand of an unemployed college graduate for not having a permit, and he set fire to himself in despair. And the Tunisian people finally had enough.

Youtube video of the demonstrations in Tunis.

A little out of date, since Ghannouchi had to resign and make place for the parliament speaker. According to several reports, the army and the regular cops have stood with the people, while the security cops have been running around shooting people, just as happened in Romania in 1989, when Ceausescu went down.

Deputy Prime Minister Silvan Shalom on Israel's grief at the prospect of democracy in the Arab world. Interesting to see this report in al-Ahram, Egypt's semi-official paper, since the Egyptian government may well be next and could not have been happy. A crowd outside the Tunisian embassy in Cairo was rejoicing and shouting "Mubarak next!" and the cops did not dare to beat them up as they usually do.

The chorus of the Tunisian national anthem sounds prophetic:

When the people will to live,
Destiny must surely respond.
Oppression shall then vanish.
Fetters are certain to break.

But for former president Ben Ali, now in Jeddah where Idi Amin retired before him, I offer this old standby from Ray Charles:

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