News Release

Tunisia: U.S. Backing Dictatorship over Pro-Democracy Movement


Tunisia ProtestCNN is reporting: “Police in Tunisia’s capital city used batons and tear gas to clear a peaceful demonstration on Friday. … [This occurs] after days of riots that have killed at least 21 people.”

Zunes just wrote the piece “Pro-Democracy Uprising Fails to Keep Washington From Backing Tunisian Dictatorship.”

Zunes is professor of politics at the University of San Francisco and senior policy analyst for Foreign Policy in Focus.

CHRISTOPHER ALEXANDERTunisia: Stability and Reform in the Modern Maghreb
Alexander is director of the Dean Rusk International Studies Program at Davidson College in North Carolina and a specialist on Tunisia. He is author of Tunisia: Stability and Reform in the Modern Maghreb.

He said today: “Until this week, I was betting that [Tunisian President] Ben Ali would ride this out. But the regime’s traditional tools can no longer address the situation.

“There’s broad-based social unrest, people have no faith in the government given the mafia-type corruption around the president’s family, human rights abuses, and until yesterday, his refusal to make any kind of political reform.

“Economics is huge in this. In mid-December, a university graduate lit himself on fire after police busted him for selling vegetables. The economy has generally been unable to generate good jobs for university graduates and has gotten even worse since the global recession, especially since Tunisia is largely dependent on exporting to Europe.

“The U.S. government has been predictably quiet given that Tunisia  has been pro-U.S. Some WikiLeaks revelations regarding Tunisia became public in November. What struck many Tunisians was that U.S. diplomats seemed to privately have the same conception of Ben Ali that they did. Another aspect of what is happening is the role  social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, has played in protesters organizing themselves.

“General strikes now underway in Tunisia are particularly significant given how hard Ali has worked to co-opt the unions.”

Earlier this month, Foreign Policy published a piece by Alexander titled “Tunisia’s protest wave: where it comes from and what it means

Graphic video and regular information about Tunisia is available via:

Twitter feed about Tunisia

Twitter feed from Tunisiatranslation plug-in available

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167