Africa

What Happened In Tunisia?

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A Tunisian offers a useful perspective at the Aqoul blog:

If there's a place you got to go/I'm the one you need to know/I'm the Map/I'm the Map/I'm the Map

The way riots spread from rural Tunisia to urban Tunisia was through rural exodus and timing coincidence. The details about what occured when exactly vary according to versions—but they generally involve repression during a market day. The most likely version is that Bouazizi's immolation, or his relatives' angry reaction against the administration, would have happened then.

That is, when his relatives started throwing rocks at the police station and/or the governorate and/or the town hall buildings, police reacted with their usual violence, and that further angered the people in the market. Snowball effect to nearby towns and then to the usual unrestive interior and southern Tunisia. Center-coastal (the usual source of the ruling and economic elite) and North (center of power with Tunis) joined only later, when the relatives of interior and southern Tunisians who moved to the capital for economic reasons reacted. They started rioting against the police because of the repression going on in their villages, building up from a few incidents in some working class neighbourhoods of Tunis to a widespread movement.

Human rights and democracy, which two months ago generated cynical smirks and were synonymous with Western oppression of Arabs, suddenly became something to strive for and regained their semantic meaning. The merit goes to laywers and other civil right activists who were the first movers after "the street" and who were key to mobilizing the middle-class and other organizations later.

Unions, which appeared as the primary force after the fall of the regime, were initially split on whether to support it or not. They really united against him late in the stage, and there are pending accounts to settle as a result. The current leadership is contested and its time is probably counted as a result. The first participation was driven by grass-root unionists—basically part of the street—who have only been able to impose their view once it was clear enough that the balance of power changed against Ben Ali.

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  1. I wish I got this story better than I do. Tunisia is kind of a black hole in the already quite dim world I live in.

  2. Is anyone else liking all this unrest?

    1. Mango Punch|2.4.11 @ 10:33AM|#
      “Is anyone else liking all this unrest?”
      Can’t tell so far; lots of dead people. I hope it’s worth it.

  3. “Unions, which appeared as the primary force after the fall of the regime, were initially split on whether to support it or not. They really united against him late in the stage, and there are pending accounts to settle as a result. The current leadership is contested and its time is probably counted as a result. The first participation was driven by grass-root unionists – basically part of the street – who have only been able to impose their view once it was clear enough that the balance of power changed against Ben Ali.”

    Wait a minute: Reason is printing text that strongly implies that unions did a good thing? Impressive!

    1. Well, the ‘unions’ in places besides the US and Western Europe, who’ve basically moved beyond having any legitimate gripes to help their members resolve, have transmogrified into whiny little sucking leach led gimme gimme mobs.

      If there were private property rights and useful labor protections in place, the Tunisian varieties might not be so noble, either.

    2. The subtext I got was that the “labor” part of the unions did a good thing, while the “leadership” part was a bit more ambivalent, but eventually sided with the labor part.

    3. Wait a minute: Reason is printing text that strongly implies that unions did a good thing? Impressive!

      Your reading comprehension needs work, Vanneman. The text implies that union leadership were lackeys of the regime, but that many of their rank and file members were part of the street protests. The unions only officially joined the protests late in the game when it was clear who would win.

  4. Argh. That was meant to be a negative characterization of the Western ‘labor union’ thug led bitch and whine festival organizations.

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