Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Tunisia North Africa's 21st century Algeria?

Apologies for the lack of updates but my final term of uni will start up soon and I've been busy writing up my Dissertation. Its about the Soviet Afghan War for those interested.

Anyway to make up for it I offer up this quite enlightening interview by the Real News Network discussing the developments of the Tunisian Revolution and the environment in which developed and grew.

Unsurprisingly it seems the revolt was sparked after decades of corruption and false democracy supported to the hilt by the liberal democratic west (of course), including the USA, whose war on terror band wagon Tunisia like most oppressive regimes with an Islamic population jump aboard head first as it was the perfect cover for increased oppression at home without fear of any messy human rights violations inspired diplomatic incidents mucking up the waters, and with a good chance of getting discounts on weapon systems and increased financial aid.

Though of course the main accomplices to the Dictatorial regime in Tunis is France and the EU, the former has regarded North Africa like its own back garden and treated much like the US government treats Latin America with a lot of "de-weeding" and preferential use of miracle grow. With latter not batting an eye at a system it claims to find anathema so long as thousands of sun starved Euro plebs can shrug off their troubles and let off some steam by the beach on a package holiday.

Still things do look promising right now, of course given the rapid pace of Revolutionary moments that doesn't mean much. The army not defending the regime of the unlamented ex president Ben Ali is a mixed blessing. Its good that the military is refusing to attack its own citizens and become a blunt tool of the ruling clique, but on the other hand they haven't fully come over to the people's side (as an institution)as yet which does leave open the possibility that they will back another less radical "leader" against the Tunisian peoples wishes and then start to crack down on all this spontaneous organising, all in the name of stability. Still time will tell.

You know I've noticed a very disturbing trend, a hell of a lot of these tropical paradises and other holiday hotspots that seem like paradise to us Northern hemisphere folks are in actuality despotic nightmares for the people who live there. Tunisia, Egypt, Thailand, Spain first became a tourist hotspot in the 1970's during the dying days of Franco's regime, and Greece for much of the 20th century was run jointly by the military and Monarchy.

My family and I went on holiday to Egypt about 6 years ago, it was lovely, everything was sparkling and ordered..... inside the hotel once you got out into the streets amongst the beggars and security thugs (Tourist Police) and breathed in the real none plastic Egypt it wasn't long before my mood soured, I think it was when I saw six Tourist Police with Ak's strike a one legged beggar and then chuck him into the back of a van with his young child. Fortunately a few days later I saw the one legged man and his son again a few days later with only some bruising, I and my mother and father gave him all the Egyptian currency we had on us to assuage are guilt and then enjoyed the rest of are stay. But for me it was my last holiday abroad I just can't get rid of the bad feelings that I was in some small way oiling the wheels of tyranny*.

Oh, for those wondering the title alludes to a similarly turbulent chapter in the history of Tunisia's neighbour. Algeria and its struggle for independence from the yoke of French Colonial domination. Particularly the urban Guerilla movement and the street battles of the capitol Algiers, if you want a quick summary of the conflict then I strongly recommend watching The Battle of Algiers as a film it is stunning and is the most grown up and intelligent depiction of a insurgency war I've either seen it is a lot better then those Revisionist Vietnam war films the yanks came out with.

*I'm fairly certain I read that somewhere.

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