Welcome to the Middle East Today

The Middle East has traditionally been important for the world economy. The Middle East situation today has an impact on all aspects of life in America and much of the world.

Only by understanding the motivations of the various factions in the Middle East can we hope to understand how to promote peace and national security for Middle Eastern nations, Europe, and the United States.

Jan 20, 2011

Tunis in the news

Tunis and the people’s rage against their previous head of state Ben Ali are still front-page news. A mafia consisting of two clans ruled the country: that of Ben Ali, the ex- President, and of Al Tarabulsi, the ex-President’s wife. The new acting Prime Minister, Mohamed al Ghanoushi, stated, “ Laila Al Tarabulsi was the actual ruler of Tunis.” In a statement released to the press he said that members of both clans should be investigated for corruption and the abuse committed against the Tunisian people.

Billions of dollars have been smuggled illegally out of Tunis and invested in Western and South American banks by members of both clans. The French newspaper, Le Monde, reported that the accumulated wealth of Ben Ali during the past 23 years of his rule was estimated at 5 billion Euros. It was reported that his wife, Laila Al Tarabulsi, embezzled 1.5 tons of gold from the Tunisian Central Bank before she fled the country.

Despite the Tunisian’s people success in removing their corrupt dictator from power after more than two decades of ruthless suppression, some of his cabinet ministers are still running the government. The Tunisians are objecting and are demanding their resignation.

Al Ghanoushi himself was part of the Ben Ali corrupt regime. Ironically he is trying to establish a transitional government and is calling for free election! He should not be permitted to head the transitional Tunisian government. There are very highly qualified Tunisians who could arrange for free election and be trusted to initiate the drafting of a new constitution for a secular state.

Prior to the uprising, Wickileaks revealed that a wide scale corruption is going on in Tunis. Both the United States and French governments were aware of it. In general Western politicians overlook the corruption of Arab head of states as long as their national interest is served. They react to events such as the uprising in Tunis after the deluge, and begin talking about “democracy” and “free elections.” This is a shortsighted policy, and the public in the Arab world is definitely resenting it. A reaction that might lead to some drastic conclusions!

Unfortunately, in the United States and the West in general, politicians have failed to learn from previous mistakes when dealing with corrupt regimes in the Middle East. A classic example is the way the US government dealt with the Shah of Iran, an ally, when the people in Iran revolted against him. He was refused political asylum in the United States. A second example is the most recent reaction of the French government who refused to allow the Tunisian president to seek political refuge in France. Hence, political leaders in the Arab world should not rely on Western powers to protect them, or guarantee the survival of their regimes. People’s wishes and determination are usually attained irrespective of any suppression.

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