Two revolutions, two outcomes

While both Egypt and Tunisia have seen Islamist regimes gain and lose power, the differences in their trajectories are stark.

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January 1, 2015 15:43
President Beji Caid Essebsi

President Beji Caid Essebsi, leader of Tunisia’s secular Nidaa Tounes party, speaks during an election rally at Avenue Habib Bourguiba in Tunis.. (photo credit: ANIS MILI / REUTERS)

 
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Two revolutions, two outcomes While both Egypt and Tunisia have seen Islamist regimes gain and lose power, the differences in their trajectories are starkmarked the fourth anniversary of the self-immolation by a despairing young Tunisian vendor in a dusty provincial town – an act that improbably and astoundingly sparked the wave of upheavals that cascaded back and forth across North Africa and the Arab Middle East, toppling regimes and destabilizing the entire region.

Concurrent with the anniversary, developments in Tunisia and Egypt – the election in late December to the Tunisian presidency of 88-year old Beji Caid Essebsi, a former minister in Tunisia’s pre-revolutionary governments, and the acquittal in November of deposed Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak and close associates on charges of responsibility for the deaths of 847 Egyptians during the 2011 “Tahrir Square Revolution” – invited comparisons on what had, and had not, been achieved by the swift overthrow of Mubarak and (one month earlier) Tunisia’s Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

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