Monday, January 17, 2011

Could ‘Tunisia effect’ topple more Mideast regimes?


Egyptian opposition activists carry an Egyptian flag, at left, and a Tunisian flag during a protest in Cairo, Egypt, Saturday, Jan. 15, 2011 in support of Tunisian protests which swept the North African Arab country driving the Tunisian president from pow 
Egyptian opposition activists carry an Egyptian flag, at left, and a Tunisian flag during a protest in Cairo, Egypt, Saturday. | Associated Press 
 
By Shashank Bengali and Miret El Naggar,
McClatchy Newspapers, Jan 15, 2011 
 
BAGHDAD _ In a historic winter of discontent in the Arab world, the uprising that forced the president of Tunisia from power has instantly reverberated across a region with no shortage of equally unpopular despots.

“To the Tunisian people: Thank you!” exclaimed an editorial Saturday in Al Quds Al Arabi, an independent pan-Arab newspaper.

While Arabs took to the streets _ and many more to Facebook and Twitter _ to celebrate the region’s first true popular revolution in decades, political activists expressed hope for a domino effect in the Middle East. The ouster of Tunisian President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali is the clearest indication that change is coming to a regional status quo marked by authoritarian rulers, systematic corruption, bulging youth populations and an endemic shortage of decent jobs.

Already this winter, demonstrations and riots have erupted in Egypt, Algeria and Jordan, all countries where long-serving rulers for years have used a combination of heavy force and well-timed subsidies to tamp down popular frustration.

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