The Meaning of Tunisia

by Bill the Butcher

There can’t be too many today who are entirely unaware of the revolutionary tsunami sweeping the Arab world, so the usual introductory remarks can probably be dispensed with.

But there must be a lot of people who are deliberately hiding the significance of this wave from themselves. There are, of course, none so blind as those who will not see.

Since we have to begin somewhere, let’s take a look at how it all started.

It was a small thing, as such things go: a 26-year-old student, one Mohamed Bouazizi, burned himself to death after the authorities confiscated his fruit stall because he didn’t have a license [1]; and he, almost certainly, didn’t have a license because he didn’t have the money to pay the bribes necessary to get a license. That’s how it goes in far too many nations of the world.

A small thing in itself, maybe, one death, a single tiny tragedy. But remember the story of the straw that broke the camel’s back? Instead of silently moving on, the people of Tunisia, incensed by decades of oppressive dictatorship, finally rose up in revolt. That tired old phrase, the “Arab street”, suddenly took on new meaning as people cast their fear aside, kicked out the dictator, and to this day are intent on ousting the people who succeeded the tyrant. But that was not the end.

Like the spark that sets off the bushfire racing through tinder-dry undergrowth, similar revolutions erupted in – so far – Yemen, Jordan, the Palestinian Authority and most important by far, Egypt, where the government is so spooked that it has shut down mobile phones and the Internet. Unless truly terrified and tottering, governments don’t take such desperate measures. And it is tottering; the Egyptian dictator’s son and heir apparent has allegedly fled the country for Britain, complete with his family and an enormous amount of loot, er, luggage. [2]

Yes, Hosni Mubarak of Egypt is still holding on, but it’s only a matter of time. Nothing is ever going to be the same again.

Now, what is the real significance of these protests, beyond the obvious desire of people to kick venal despots out of power?

Let’s look at a few that may not have been apparent to everyone.

First, every single one of the regimes whose people have revolted, so far, has been a puppet of the Empire operating out of Washington, DC [3]. Ben Ali of Tunisia was one of the United States’ favourite satraps, and so is Saleh, the vile Yemeni tyrant who is one of the Empire’s most servile “allies” in the Global War Of Terror. As for the Palestinian Authority, the Palestinian people aren’t rebelling against the only legitimately elected force there, the allegedly tyrannical and terrorist HAMAS; they’re rebelling against the corrupt comprador Fatah regime, so beloved of the Empire and the so-called state of Israel.

And as for Mubarak. Oh yes, Mubarak. Where to begin? Should we talk about his status as the Empire’s most allied ally in North Africa? Should we mention that he, too, is a participant in the genocidal sanction regime against Gaza, along with the so-called state of “Israel”? Should we mention that the Empire has declared [4], while blood flows in the streets of Cairo, that Mubarak is stable on his throne?

It’s interesting, very interesting, that not one of the Arab countries in Washington’s cross-hairs – not, let’s say, Syria, for instance, or Libya, those allegedly oppressive tyrannies – has seen a single protest, let alone a revolution. Nor has Gaza, where the “terrorist” HAMAS “oppresses” the people by trying its best to provide housing, food, and social services. Nor has Lebanon, invaded – for the latest time – in 2006 by the so-called state of “Israel”, to applause from the Empire. Not one of them has seen a revolt, let alone a revolution.

Isn’t that interesting, now?

I wonder what exactly will happen when Washington’s favourite tyrants begin to topple like, well, ninepins. In this day and age, people aren’t blind, and the Internet has brought the world together like nothing ever has before, as the tottering Egyptian dictatorship obviously recognises. What happens when the fire consumes the Empire’s proxies across the Arab world? Who will feel the most threatened then, with the compliant satraps replaced by democratic regimes answerable to their own people, or at least trying to be?

The so-called state of “Israel”, that’s who.

It’s hardly a secret to those in the know that the regime oppressing Occupied Palestine can continue to do so only because of the tacit, and sometimes not so tacit, support of dictatorships and monarchies across the Arab world. With that covert support stripped away, the Zionists will know their days are numbered. They will be entirely dependent, even more than now, on the Empire for survival. And given their history and what passes for their thought processes, their default response will be to unleash war against all the newly free Arab nations. Washington, which is utterly in thrall to the illegitimate regime, will find a way to approve. It has after all, approved everything so far, including the bombing of schools and hospitals.

But that might no longer be enough.

What, precisely, happens when the wave of revolution washes away such verminous scum as the House of Saud? Will a democratic successor regime continue to supply oil to the Empire? Will Iraq’s comprador regime continue in power, and how, by massacring its own people? Will the other oil-producing monarchies in West Asia democratise quickly to survive, or wait to go under?

And then, what happens when the democratic nations of the Arab world act according to the wishes of their peoples, and not according to Washington’s dictates? What happens when the Empire finds its unmentionables trapped in an energy squeeze? Caught between its own survival and that of the illegitimate and murderous regime in Occupied Palestine, what will the Empire do? Can it invade and occupy the Arab world, or will it finally abandon the Zionists?

Democracy in the Arab world, then, is bad. It’s terrible. If at all possible, it has to be stopped.

How?

Well, there is the theory that allowing democracy in the Arab world throws the door open for Islamic parties. Ergo, allowing Arab democracy means allowing Islamic fundamentalism. I’m predicting right now that you can expect this idea to play all over the so-called “international” media in the coming days. (It’s already begun, with news reports of how Tunisia’s “Islamists” have returned home with the revolution, and how the Muslim Brotherhood – a decaying collection of fogies utterly overtaken by events in Egypt [5] – will rule the Arab world, post-revolution.)

It’s a ludicrous proposition, of course.

If we’ve seen anything at all, it’s that suppressing Islamic parties is what leads to Islamic revolutions. It happened in Iran, and in Algeria [6], where the army took over with overt Western support after a religious party overwhelmingly won an entirely democratic election. And let’s not forget (though I’m sure a lot of people reading this will try their best to forget it) that the raison d’être of that bogie of bogies, Al Qaeda, isn’t blind hatred of Western “freedoms”; it’s opposition to the utterly vile House of Saud ruling from Riyadh.[7]

Allow Islamic parties to take part in democratic elections, and you’ll see how fast Islamic extremism will wither away, if only because those in power will try and stay in power by appealing to the broadest base possible. Look at Turkey, for instance.

But people who could be deluded into believing that Saddam Hussein was behind 11/9, and that London was “45 minutes from destruction”, can be deluded into believing anything, it appears. At least the Empire will hope so, and act on that hope. Its economy needs Unending War, after all.

Meanwhile, as far as I can see, what happens in Egypt will prove decisive. The illegitimate Zionist entity obviously realises it, too, [8] and will do whatever it can to prevent that from happening. But, apart from putting pressure on the Empire, it can’t do much. At the time of writing, the next couple of days will prove to be the making or breaking of the Revolution. Mubarak will either go under or try and stay in power by a massive, blood-soaked massacre [9] of the protestors, a massacre that might be justified by tales of armed terrorists hiding amidst the people. (And if that happens, you can imagine the relief with which the Empire’s Mubarak Fan Club [10] will leap to his support).

Expect interesting times.[11]

But the floodgates are creaking, and the democratic momentum is unstoppable. It might take a while more, but the writing is on the wall.

Even King Knut couldn’t turn back the tide.

Postscript: While the “Arab Street” burns, and young men and women give their lives for a better tomorrow, we in India are launching our own revolution. We forward text message jokes about our kleptocratic “leaders”, and are yet to see even a single mass protest about spiraling prices and rampant corruption.

Every people deserve the leaders they have ruling over them.

Sources:

[1] http://www.ibtimes.com/articles/101313/2….led-tunisia.htm

[2] http://www.wallstreetnewscast.com/news/2011/january/egypt5326.html

[3] http://original.antiwar.com/justin/2011/01/27/the-revolutionary-wave/

[4] http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/01/2….WEN640520110127

[5] http://www.ocregister.com/opinion/army-286175-egypt-police.html

[6] http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/petero….t-our-business/

[7] http://www.twq.com/05autumn/docs/05autumn_bradley.pdf

[8] http://news.antiwar.com/2011/01/31/israe….yal-of-mubarak/

[9] http://willyloman.wordpress.com/2011/01/….ian-revolution/

[10] http://original.antiwar.com/justin/2011/01/30/the-hosni-mubarak-fan-club/

[11] http://www.antiwar.com/blog/2011/01/31/and-there-it-is-neocons-test-idea-of-us-intervention-in-egypt/

5 Comments on “The Meaning of Tunisia”

  1. Things have started moving very quickly, as you predicted. Because of the perspective you raised with your article, my heart didn’t skip a beat or my brow raise an inch when the news coverage said protesters claimed the pro-Mubarak demonstrators were government employees. Nor am i any near surprised that both Mubarak and the US government advocate a “smooth transition.” They need time to insure the proper pecking order is in place to keep the wheels greased for their own pocketbook rewards. True change is never a smooth transition because it means radically changing the value system currently controlling government policy, of relinquishing the hold on outdated ideas, and shaping a new plan that will work for the benefit of the public. A smooth transition means no change, just a transference of policy to a new figurehead.

  2. Update:

    There are four main thoughts I have in my mind at this moment about the current situation in Egypt.

    First, it’s obvious that Mubarak isn’t going to go without a fight. He’s trying by any and all means to stay on, even if that means major violence. He’s avoided, so far, the temptation to use the Army, more likely than not because the Egyptian army isn’t enthusiastic about shooting up its own citizens and not because of a belated flush of morals or whatever passes for them in his head.

    Instead, he sent in thugs and hooligans. Was it an effort to beat the protestors into submission? I somehow don’t think even a deluded man would’ve thought his goons could turn back the tide by themselves. No, what’s much more likely is that yesterday’s punch-up in Tahrir Square was something far more sinister: Mubarak probably intended to incite the demonstrators into overreacting and unleashing violence on a large scale. The spectre of anarchy would’ve given him the excuse he needs to use any and all means possible to subdue his opponents. And it might even be working to some extent, since the Egyptian Army brass asked the people to return home and life to ‘return to normal.”

    Fortunately, the revolutionaries haven’t been fooled.

    Now, I’ve come across several people who think it’s hopeful that Mubarak said he’ll step down in September, when presidential “elections” (such as they are) are due, and think the protestors should declare victory and go home. That’s the worst possible thing they can do. There’s a moment in time when a window opens, but it doesn’t stay open long. Mubarak made the concession only because he’s tottering, and he knows he’s tottering. One hard push and he’ll fall. Stepping back will not only leave him back in place, it will allow him to make sure such large scale protests aren’t ever possible again. Stepping back now will negate the revolution.

    Oh, and for Mubarak’s concessions? He’s even refused to rule out the possibility of his son and heir-apparent Gamel running for president come September. If that doesn’t open some peoples’ eyes, nothing will.

    Then, just imagine if these protestors had guns. All too often we hear all the pro-gun activists claiming tyrants could never hang on to power if the people had guns. Well, if these people had guns, you’d have seen Mubarak unleashing a bloodbath of proportions that would’ve put Lebanon 2006 and Gaza 2009 to shame, and throw in the Zionist-supervised Shatila Refugee Camp massacre as well while you’re about it.

    If these protestors had guns, you can just imagine the Empire falling over itself to announce that they were all Islamofascist terrorists in the pay of Al Qaeda, and anything and everything that Hosni the Great and his legions did to suppress them was part of the Global War Of Terror. And just in case they somehow did overthrow the dictator, the illegitimate Zionist entity’s Empire-made fighter bombers would be voiding incendiary bombs over Cairo’s roofs and its tanks rolling over the Sinai desert towards the Suez Canal. Because it’s a peaceful revolution, that hasn’t happened, though you can bet your life the Zionists would’ve loved it. Greater Israel, you know. But if a genuine democratic regime takes over in Cairo, the Zionists can’t even carpet-bomb Gaza when they feel like it.

    The third thought is the pernicious idea that the Arab world is somehow “not ready” for democracy, and any attempt to grant Arabs democracy will mean them coming under the Islamic heel. The commonest excuse given for this is the Iranian Revolution of 1979, an “argument” that has sucked in some otherwise intelligent people.

    This is, of course, a racist argument at its roots, and has a good heavy dose of hypocrisy and historical illiteracy thrown in the mix. The most obvious point is, of course, that Tehran 1979 isn’t Cairo 2011, and that things in the world have changed almost beyond recognition since the advent of the Internet. And the Islamic hold on Iran was immeasurably strengthened by the Empire-instigated Iran-Iraq war, and the current Empire-imposed sanction regime. Don’t tell me the Empire isn’t aware of this.

    And, unlike Ayatollah Khomeini, who was always the defining figure of the Iranian revolution, the Egyptian revolutionaries, as well as those in other Arab nations, aren’t beholden to any one party or charismatic figure. They simply want a better life, free of corruption, and if the Islamists can give them that, they’ll settle for it. The allegedly “shadowy” Muslim Brotherhood isn’t even a major force in Egypt, and was so completely bypassed by the events that it’s still belatedly scrambling to catch up. It, in any case, officially abandoned violence long ago, an act that earned it the bitter enmity of…Al Qaeda. That’s right, the people the Empire fears will take over Egypt are Al Qaeda’s enemies.

    Also, just why doesn’t the Arab world have many democracies? Isn’t the reason the simple fact that the Empire has worked hard, after the end of the Second World War, to overthrow, supplant and crush democracies in the Arab world, as well as in Iran and other Muslim nations like Pakistan? Isn’t it true that the Arab world’s one true functioning democracy at the moment is the HAMAS regime in Gaza, and the act of daring to vote openly for HAMAS has earned the people the enmity of the Empire and the illegitimate Zionist entity?

    Therefore, isn’t it hypocrisy for the Empire to deny the Arabs the right to overthrow despots because they “don’t have democracy”, when the reason they don’t have democracy is the Empire in the first place?

    My fourth thought: Just where will this wave of revolution end? Will it stay confined to the Arab world? There are plenty of mismanaged, corrupt nations in the world, with pseudo-democratic regimes in power, ruled by people whose only loyalty is to themselves. I don’t have much hope for a spineless de facto feudal monarchy like India, but if the Arab world frees itself, how long before people elsewhere get the clue? What if new revolutions break out across…Russia, let’s say, or Nigeria, or Mexico? How long before the sanctimonious West, its own cupboards creaking with skeletons, feels the fire?

    What happens now in Egypt is vital for us all.

    Further Reading: http://original.antiwar.com/justin/2011/02/01/egypt-battle-of-the-narratives/

  3. You made several points that i found interesting. Your first, concerning tactics and concessions, were thoughts that had already crossed my mind. This is the usual sand throwing of the propaganda machine. To a mainstream, conscientious in trying to reach an understanding of the conflict, presenting a citizenry willing to fight back for their imposed government and a leader who is “trying” to amicably preserve relationships, seems to present the earmark of a more or less benevolent government in unfortunate circumstances. The issues are obscured for the appearance of civilized negotiation. This is business as usual.

    It’s the observation about guns that threw me off a little and caused some serious reflection. The United States has a dual perspective concerning violence. It abhors physical violence; that is, street fights, old fashioned fisticuffs, striking back for mental or physical injury, but it clings to its guns as the ultimate solution. They are taught from elementary school age to never strike back physically at your aggressors. You take your grievances to the authorities, who are assumed to give equitable judgment, but rarely do. This non-combative mentality, instilled from childhood, has created a cat and mouse game within the legal institution, making it very difficult to tell who is the victim and who is the perpetrator. You want to ruin your neighbor? Just harass him enough to strike out at you, then sue.

    When you add in the list of heroes who brought law and order at the point of the gun to American history, there’s very little wonder that Americans consider guns the ultimate solution and the primary necessity for active revolution. Before i was allowed to take part in the anti-nuclear demonstrations of the seventies, i had to first take a course in passive resistance. It was probably the most difficult course i’ve ever taken because it involved refusing to get angry when pushed, shoved or insulted. Those who partook in the demonstration understood they could, and probably would be threatened, kicked and beaten, but the idea was to stand firm until hauled off to jail. It worked then, but the American mood is much uglier now and less inclined to be physical. Their guns give them comfort because it removes them from physical contact and removes them from the personal encounter of inflicting harm.

    “Not ready” for democracy is an oxymoron as it takes very little education to understand the principle behind having more than one candidate to choose from for political office. Ideally, the two party system gives one the choice between conservative or liberal policies, with the dual representation creating a balance from going to extremes in either direction. “Not ready” means, this isn’t the direction we want to see the public take, not that the public has the right to make the choice.

    Where will the revolution end? Where isn’t the question, but when. Latin America has been in the throes of revolution for quite awhile. Its remaining dictators are only kept in office through US government funding. Russia routinely solves its problems through revolution, but considering their dwindling population, i doubt they very much relish the thought of another blood bath. Civil unrest has ignited around the world. Barely a day goes by without reading of protests, demonstrations and violent confrontations. What has been started can not be stopped without brute force. What has been ended through brutality only leaves a festering wound that will open again, more infected, more virulent than before.

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