Saturday, January 15, 2011

People Power Succeeds Without Western Backing

Analysis by Emad Mekay

"CAIRO, Jan 14, 2011 (IPS) - These are scenes Western powers would have loved to see in Iran - thousands of young people braving live bullets and forcing an autocratic ruler out of the country. But it is in the North African nation Tunisia where an uprising forced the Western-backed autocratic President Zine el Abidine Ben Ali to flee the country.

Western powers remain incredulous. France, the real power broker in the Franco North African nation, was giving Ben Ali tacit support until an hour before he fled Friday.

The French Foreign Ministry said it "backs" the measures announced by Ben Ali by way of overtures to the protestors, but asked for more freedoms. In effect France ignored the movement’s demand for Ben Ali to go, and addressed Ben Ali as the legitimate leader.

The United States was clearly far more busy with the collapse of the government in Lebanon, a country critical to the main U.S. ally in the region, Israel, after the Lebanese opposition withdrew their minister from the coalition government.....

On Friday afternoon, Ben Ali dissolved the cabinet and parliament, and ordered early elections within six months. A couple of hours later, he imposed emergency law in the country. But another two hours later, Arab TV stations reported he had fled the country. "

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