Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Soldiers on the streets as Tunisian violence reaches capital

بن علي يا جبان شعب تونس لا يهان

Troops protect embassies and state buildings in Tunis as protesters criticise unemployment, corruption and repression

The Guardian

"Soldiers have been deployed in the centre of Tunis amid violent unrest that officials say has killed 23 people.[The real number is much higher]

In a Tunisian provincial town that was the scene of some of the worst clashes at the weekend, witnesses said a large crowd had gathered to demand the resignation of President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali and that police were nowhere to be seen. [This is usually the pattern towards the end of dictatorial regimes. When the police and the military sense the approaching end of the regime, they desert it fearing the wrath of the masses. The key here is the size and the spread of the protests and their escalation and continuity.]

Protesters are angry about unemployment, corruption and what they say is a repressive government. Officials claim the protests have been hijacked by a minority of violent extremists who want to undermine Tunisia.

The protests have been continuing for nearly a month and are the worst in the north African country for decades. They are being watched closely in other Arab countries with potential for social unrest......

Two witnesses said that several thousand people had come out on to the streets in Gassrine, about 120 miles from Tunis, to protest against the government and its crackdown on the protests.

People were chanting "Go away Ben Ali," one witness, Mohsen Nasri, told Reuters by telephone.

"There are about 3,000 people here protesting," said a second witness. "There are no police, they have fled to their barracks.""

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