Tunisia’s revolt, which was triggered by the martyr Bouazezi’s self-immolation and
helped overthrow the “former” president, Zein Alabideen Bin Ali,
carries many messages and lessons to be read and analyzed. It is an
indicator of the direction of the political and humanitarian compass not
only in Tunisia and the Arab region, but also across the globe – for
what has taken in place in Tunisia is a global event par excellence.

The
very first of such messages alludes to the jubilation with which Arab
nations have welcomed the news; laymen in the Arab world received the
news about Bin Ali’s departure with a note of optimism, believing that
the event will spark change in most of the Arab states ruled by
totalitarian, corrupt regimes. Although Bin Ali is not the first Arab
president to be overthrown in recent times – with Saddam Hussein’s
overthrow in Iraq perhaps the most notorious – the fact that Bin Ali has
been brought down by his own people, without foreign intervention, and
that this was a popular revolt rather than military coup, has been
greeted with general satisfaction, unlike the controversy of the Iraq
invasion.

Many political observers and analysts feel the wave of
protest will not be restricted to Tunisia; they refer in this respect to
demonstrations in Algeria and Jordan
recently – though demonstrations in Jordan have been peaceful and have
not called for the overthrow of the regime. Instead, the demand is for
improved economic conditions and reform of the government’s criticised
economic policy, while re-iterating faith in the monarchy as the
defining identity of the state and guarantor of stability.

Tunisia’s
message will definitely find its way to the mailboxes of Arab rulers.
There is a need to launch genuine political, economic and social reform
processes more significant than the mere superficialities that the
pan-Arab regimes have long practiced by hiding behind a “formal or
pseudo-democracy”, and ultra-nationalist or religious ideologies.

Tunisia
has also highlighted the double-standards adopted by most democratic
states, particularly the Europeans and the United States. Having been
involved in occupying Iraq under the pretext that they wanted to help
the Iraqi people against the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein, the US and
many European nations refrained from advancing democracy and maintained a
foggy attitude vis-à-vis what has been taking place in Tunisia. They
have failed to justify their support for Bin Ali’s regime – which is but
one example that those democratic states are supporting non-democratic
regimes in order to preserve their own vested interests.

By
contrast, the Tunisian uprising has proved that the people remain the
side that has the final say, and that any regime anywhere in the globe
is bound to fall as long as it continues to distance itself from its
people regardless of the size of support it receives from key powerful
countries. History has already proved that powerful allies will not be
able to protect such regimes if the people can no longer abjure
injustice and oppression.

The third message has to do with
Tunisia itself. The Tunisian people who offered the lives and blood of
their sons for freedom should not fall into the trap that opportunists
and power-addicts are trying to set up for them. The Tunisian people
should know that these opportunists who benefited from Ben Ali’s regime
will not easily give up their interests and gains. A case in point here
is the fact that the Tunisian constitution was overlooked when the prime
minister assumed power instead of allowing the house speaker to fill in
the gap as per that constitution. The Tunisian people should not be
tricked by such a move, for the solution definitely does not lie in the
hands of those who helped Bin Ali oppress his people. The solution to
the current political crisis can be achieved through the formation of a
national salvation government that represents all political factions in
Tunisia. The first task such a government should attend to will be to
hold legislative and presidential elections as soon as possible,
provided that such elections are run by an independent commission under
local and international observation. 

Mohammed Hussainy is director of the Identity Center in Amman, Jordan and writes for the Arabic language Al Ghad newspaper. This article first appeared on openDemocracy.net and has been republished under a Creative Commons licence.