The Uprising of the Tunisian People … Analysis and Concerns
Tunisia’s first president El Habib Burgiba held a unique place in Tunisia’s recent history. Despite his numerous faults and some unforgivable actions, he was the leader of the nations’ struggle against colonialism and the “father” of Tunisian Independence. During his tenure he achieved many great feats for his country including spreading constitutional awareness among the Tunisian masses which consolidated the principal of a peaceful transition of power in Tunisia. This constitutional awareness was so ingrained in the people that towards the end of the Burgiba era it was impossible for the army to play a decisive role in political life.
However, Burgiba failed to live up to those constitutional values when he refrained from relinquishing power even though his advanced age and deteriorating health impeded him from ruling the country competently.
His ever grateful people reluctantly indulged him in appreciation of his historical role and his unquestionable devotion to his country and the wellbeing of his people throughout his reign. Public constitutional confidence was encouraged by the fact that Burgiba had named no successor or heir.
The strong constitutional foundations he had laid made the peaceful transition of power a formality. Upon his death a new president would be sworn in by means of a modern constitutional mechanism. The world would witness the first successful democratic process in the Middle East outside of Israel. Tunisia would never again fall from that modern and sophisticated path, and would escape the primitiveness of Arab world politics. In so doing, Tunisia would set a precedent in that politically pitiable part of the world.
This process however did not meet western designs for the region.
The common western influenced cycle of power transition was employed to begin to eradicate this democratic process. A western backed agent (Ben Ali) was introduced to peacefully usurp power from the “senile president” invoking a “legal” revolution for the so called “benefit” of his own people and stability of the country.
In so doing Ben Ali and his backers, in my view, efficiently aborted a potentially successful Tunisian experiment, thus depriving the region of a successful precedent that could easily spread throughout the region.
President Ben Ali ruled Tunisia with obvious western backing for 23 years, and erased a great deal of Burgiba’s constitutional legacy. By usurping power as he did the first precedent of a peaceful and democratic transition of power in the Arab world was purposefully nullified.
The Burgiba generation is now all but gone and has been replaced by the Ben Ali generation with the Tunisian public no longer able to bear the corruption of the Ben-Ali regime. The West, in my view, deemed the time right to execute the final part of the plan and push Tunisia back into the quagmire of Arabian politics.
Western support for Ben Ali was lifted with a sudden loud expression of displeasure at the “excessive use of force” against his own people in order to maintain power. The traitor was abruptly abandoned and left with no option but to flee the country; but not before deploying the army to “maintain law and order in the streets.”
Now that the army is the de facto ruler in Tunisia, will it retreat to its barracks once a new government is decided upon? Or will the constitutional establishment Ben Ali left in tatters be incapable of completing the Tunisian precedent of a civilised and peaceful transition of power, causing the country to descend into chaos and leaving the people with no option but to turn to the army to save them?
This, in my opinion, is what the -USA led- West is relying on, in order to maintain Israel as the sole real democracy in the region.
Mohamed Ben Ghalbon
25 January 2011