The Tunisian uprising in January has destroyed many New Year assumptions about the future of the Middle East, placing social reform at the top of the news in a region where headlines are usually dominated by wars and efforts to end them, The Financial Times reports.
As the Lebanese government collapsed and south Sudan voted in its long-awaited independence referendum, the overthrow of Tunisia’s President Zein al-Abidine Ben Ali surprised almost everyone and brought some big latent questions in the Arab world into sharp focus.
Events in Tunis have excited populations in the Middle East and commentators outside, with many agreeing it is a possible first sign of important social change – even if they disagree on the likely pace of it.
As Abdulkhaleq Abdulla, professor of political science at Emirates University in the United Arab Emirates, puts it: “It’s inspirational for the people. One fewer bad guy – and this is good for Arab democracy.”
Tunisia’s uprising has set the tone for the year because it has crystallised a much wider debate about living conditions, corruption and autocracy in the Middle East.
Governments from the Maghreb to the Levant have been scrambling to secure their own positions since, most publicly through state handouts to populations angry about rising food costs, unemployment, and graft among national elites.
Read the entire story at ft.com
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