SPECIAL NOTICE: Due to technical problems with Word Press, the server of the israelstreet blog, this blog is appearing later than usual today–and may appear at erratic times in the next few days until Word Press works out problems with its server.
UPDATE (10 pm Sunday): A half hour ago an IDF base at an undisclosed location in Samaria was attacked by Palestinian terrorists with Molotov cocktails.
It has now been over 15 months since Mohamed Bouazizi , a 26 year old Tunisian street vendor, set himself on fire in protest of the treatment that he received from a municipal official in his hometown of Sidi Bouzid–and thereby lit the spark that began the so-called Arab Spring.
It is not necessary to recount here again how the Arab Spring turned quickly turned into the Arab Winter (a phrase that originated in israelstreet blogs). What has happened throughout the Middle East is that Islamists have either taken power through elections (Tunisia), or authoritarian regimes have become more entrenched (Syria, Jordan, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Iran), or something disguised as democracy is still under the control of the military (Egypt). Despite the grand hopes of leaders in the West, there is little to no democracy anywhere.
But because Tunisia is the one supposed “success story”, events there in the last week deserve discussion. You will recall that the Islamist party Ennahda was elected after the regime of Zine Abidine Ben Ali was overthrown. Ennahda was elected on a platform of establishing a country based on Islamic law while at the same time protecting the rights of women and “minorities.”
Ennahda has been embraced by the U.S. Obama Administration in the United States which agreed through its emissary Hillary Clinton two days ago to provide $100 million in cash to the Tunisians for “short term fiscal relief”. This is on top of a $3o million dollar “sovereign loan guarantee agreement” which provides over $200 million dollars in new financing from international capital markets for the Tunisian government.
But all of Clinton’s talk of financial support came as little comfort to the Tunisia’s 1500 member Jewish minority as 7000 Salafists (members of an ultra-Islamist group which along with Ennahda used be be banned) greeted Clinton’s arrival with a demonstration in the main square of Tunis. As it turns out, the demonstration was not so much against Clinton or the United States as it was against Jews.
For several hours, the Salafist leaders exhorted their crowd with chants of “Slaughter the Jews!” and “Kill the Jews!”
Welcome to the Tunisian Arab Spring: Version 2012.