Whatever happened to Tunisia? The most unlikely starting point of the political turmoil that has swept the Arab world has dropped out of the headlines. While Tunisia wrestles with the realisation that toppling a flaky leader is, in this case, a lot easier than root and branch regime change, the news crews and international affairs pundits have moved on. [Read more…]
My colleagues are departing for North Africa. And I am sitting here left behind in central London wishing I was going with them. History is being made and I want to see it up close.
But what kind of history? Commentators vie with each other for the most appropriate comparison.
– “Is it like 1989 and the fall of the Berlin Wall?”
– “No, this is the new 1968 and The Prague Spring?”
– “No it isn’t, this is just like 1848 and the spate of European revolutions that swept the continent.” [Read more…]
If I was Aung San Suu Kyi, I would be extremely ticked off.
I would be sitting there in Burma watching events unfold in Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain, Libya and I would be thinking:
“Hey. What about me?” [Read more…]
As I write this in Dubai, it seems that Hosni Mubarak’s days as President of Egypt are numbered. It reminds us of the transitory nature of power – although in Mubarak’s case the transit took some thirty years – and he hasn’t gone yet. But regimes that one day can seem to be anchor points on the political landscape, around which governments shape foreign policy and businesses structure their approach to key markets, can the next day be in a state of acute flux.
We seem surprised by sudden change. World leaders caught off guard respond with fancy political footwork and carefully coded statements as they rapidly recalibrate alliances. Markets get the jitters. [Read more…]
The departure for exile in Saudi Arabia of President Ben Ali of Tunisia seems to bear out the axiom that all political careers end in failure. Leaving the stage when the audience is asking you to stay is infinitely preferable to an ignominious scuttle to the airport. The longer you leave it – and the more you are seen to dither – the odds of a happy retirement decrease.
Quitting while you are ahead was as true for Roman emperors as it is today for North African republican “monarchs” or European prime ministers. But if the political ecology is ancient, the circumstances surrounding the “Jasmine Revolution” are very modern. [Read more…]