The resignation and escape of the Tunisian President Ben Ali, is a serious precedent to the other Arab autocrats, many of whom have spent over two decades or more in their thrones, all the while ignoring the pressing need for development of their nations. These obscene incumbencies have led to disaster, and inevitably involve rampant corruption among a select group of crony yes-men.
The uprising against Ben Ali was no less momentous than the Arab peoples’ battle against the British, Italian, French and Ottoman colonizers during the previous centuries, which resulted in their freedom and independence. Protests in Tunis built into a crescendo during the last three weeks, after a jobless man, in a raw display of hopelessness, set himself on fire in protest of dismal employment prospects in the country.
Daily riots by justifiably angry youths were motivated by scarce access to basic necessities and jobs, as well as concern for very modern rights like open media and free communication. The massive strife finally gave the President no choice but to quit the country and seek safety in Saudi Arabia.
Cutting prices of basic foodstuffs, dismissing ministers, promising future changes, and appealing for aid from other nations could not satisfy the Tunisian masses, who were irreversibly committed to a better future and fed up with the regime’s lies and outrages. They were literally dying for a better life.
The example of Tunisia will affect the whole Arab world, but mainly those presidents and monarchs who rely on the bankrupt wisdom of their inner circles. Some countries, like Jordan, Syria and Egypt, have decided to cut the prices of basic foodstuffs. Decision makers their have carftily revised their policies and addressed the dire needs of their populace.
Yemen, Sudan, Lebanon, Iraq, Iran, Egypt, Syria, Libya, and Algeria are facing the same threats as Tunis and may have the same fate if they decide not to take immediate action against dire political and social challenges.
Governments and rulers are charged to serve their communities, and bad examples should be exposed to the public and made to answer for their errors and crimes. In this regard, will Yemen accept the new amendments to the constitution? Will the parliamentary election take place on time, on 27 April?
Will the Yemeni government accept another round of negotiations with the opposition parties? And will the visit of Hilary Clinton affect the dispute between the government and the opposition parties?
How will the government deal with rioting in the southern governorates after Tunis? How will Yemen handle the political situation over the course of the next two months?
I think Yemen and some other Arab countries will have in mind a hundred questions, and they need to implement just as many serious changes in order to avoid the Tunisia debacle. The spectacle witnessed there will wake up hundreds in the Arab corruptocracies to the reality of their need to serve their peoples.
The Yemeni Government could benefit from the example set in Tunisia, and work urgently for the welfare of the people as a whole, and forget its petty disputes with the opposition party. Petty vendettas will harm everybody, and all players will lose at such a game and might soon find no table to play at it again. Who’s next?