Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Instability and military rule

The protest I went to yesterday was definitely different then the protests that went on before the Revolution.

First of all it was two sided.

Though both sides were ridiculing Ben Ali and Leila, I think (once again, I'm not sure) the much bigger group was also ridiculing the UGTT, (the main labor union and a major impetus behind the revolution) demanding an end to the mass strike and an acceptance of the interim government.

The side waving UGTT flags was much smaller, and was basically being protected by soldiers.

The UGTT and their supporters want the interim government to be completely purged of all Ben Ali's ministers, or at least the most powerful ones. (defense, interior, etc) However, many of Ben Ali's former cronies (members of the RCD party) have been able to hang on to power and as a result all attempts at creating a unity government have collapsed. This has left Tunisia in a state of parliamentary limbo.

Perhaps people in other regions blame this on the RCD, but in my region almost everyone I talk to thinks that the RCD ministers should be allowed to stay, for the sake of stability.

These people have a point. Even though the RCD did terrible things, most(/all) of the opposition has absolutely no experience running a government. People who were unemployed bloggers or working in Paris a month ago now have prominent positions in government. Many people I talk to say that RCD members should be allowed to stay, at least for the next two months (after which there will be fresh elections).

Also the terrorists killing people in my neighborhood last week were almost certainly security forces loyal to the RCD apparatus. I doubt the military got them all, and a real purge of the RCD would probably mean more indiscriminate violence.

Another reason that people around my way feel amicable to the interim government is that almost all the highranking RCD party members are from my region.(the Sahel)

Regionalism here is at least as bad as racism in the United States, and the Sahel has gotten a lot of investment and development as a result of the RCD's patronage. While everyone in Tunisia sees Ben Ali as a criminal, most people around here want to keep their regional privilege.

In any case all this instability is making an overt military take over of the government more and more likely. General Rachid Ammar is the head of the army, and basically allied the army with the revolution at a very critical moment. No one has a bad thing to say about him at this point, and so far he hasn't seemed particularly interested in making himself the next Ben Ali. However, if the political chaos remains General Ammar will be under pressure from America (supposedly) and even common Tunisians to step in.

I have one close friend who lives in my neighborhood, but whose family comes from Sidi Bouzid. He hates the RCD and thinks that every high ranking member should be deposed and put on trial. I asked him if this was worth instability and he basically told me "whatever, the military can just take control."

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