It was always going to start with Tunisia. After all, if you carefully study the history of the country, it has been rather an experimenter; for example, Tunisia saw the rise of the first city of Islam in Africa. Further, it has achieved substantial economic growth to become the EU’s 30th Trading partner [Tunisia was the first Mediterranean country to sign an Association Agreement with the European Union, in July 1995, although even before the date of entry came into force, Tunisia started dismantling tariffs on bilateral EU trade. These were finalised in 2008 and therefore was the first Mediterranean country to enter in a free trade area with EU. In 2008 it had a GDP of $41 billion (official exchange rates), or $82 billion (purchasing power parity), one of the highest in the region] . Tunisia also has had a fair share of “democracy” rhetoric from its executive (whether lip service or otherwise) and has a relatively larger middle class in comparisons to other countries in the region. It was always going to start with Tunisia.
Now Egypt is in the throngs of it, and it appears others like Jordan and Qatar may soon follow. Around the middle east a fire of democracy and freedom rages. There has been 4 or 5 vice president’s replaced within weeks in the countries around the area, in acts of nervousness by royals, dictators and other monarchs. The situation is rather grave that it is said that royals are said to be deeply troubled by whats unfolding .
People in the middle east have risen up against their dictators, seeking democracy, freedom of expression, better lives, and less state control and an end to repression. When Ben Ali of Tunisia fled, the world watched in amazement as within days, the Egyptians began their revolution…now as I write this, Mubarak is hanging onto power by mere threads (literally), and it is thought that within 24 hours, it is highly likely that there will be an interim government in Egypt.
I wonder what will come next?
Of course, we all wish the people of Egypt all the best, and their voice ought to be heard since they have the legitimate right to decide on what their country’s future should be. But we don’t really want Egypt joining the ranks of Afghanistan, Iraq or Pakistan, do we?
What I’d most like right now (besides a cold beer or an audience with missus) is some perspective from someone who has lived through such times, someone like Pervez Musharraf.