Analysis: A warning to Arab dictators

Some in Arab world hope intifada that erupted in Tunisia spreads to the rest of the Arab countries, signaling start of a new, more promising era.

Riots in Tunisia 311 AP (photo credit: AP)
Riots in Tunisia 311 AP
(photo credit: AP)
Arab dictators have good reason to be afraid in light of the ouster of Tunisian President Zein al-Abideen Bin Ali, political analysts and newspaper columnists in the Arab world said over the weekend.
Some even went as far as voicing hope that the intifada that erupted in Tunisia would spread to the rest of the Arab countries, signaling the beginning of a new and more promising era for the Arab world.
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“The revolution of the Tunisian people has left many Arab leaders panicking,” said political analyst Sami al-Buhairi. “What happened to Bin Ali was an unprecedented humiliation for an Arab leader.”
Ahmed Abu Matar, another political analyst, noted that similar protests in Algeria could also result in regime change.
“The leaders of Algeria and the rest of the Arab world must draw the conclusions from the Tunisia experience,” he said. “The question that needs to be asked these days: Why are Arabs the only ones who fall in love with their seats and insist on staying in power forever?”
Analyst  Ahmed Lashin said he did not rule out the possibility that the entire Arab world would be engulfed in chaos in wake of the Tunisian “revolution.” He noted that anti-government demonstrations have already taken place in Algeria and Jordan.
“The Arabs have been repressed for too long,” he said. “They are eager for change and are on the verge of explosion.”
Under the title, Thank You To the Tunisian People, Abdel Bari Atwan, editor of the London-based Al-Quds Al-Arabi, wrote: “The next few days could be critical for most of the Arab dictatorships. The living conditions in Tunisia are still better than most of the Arab countries. Moreover, the Tunisian dictatorship was less repressive than its sister dictatorships in the Arab world.”
Atwan suggested that the US Administration prepare an island in the Pacific Ocean to receive its Arab friends and dictators “the same way it opened Guantanamo Prison for Al-Qaida men.”
He said that the Tunisian people deserved to be thanked twice – “for proving that the Arab street is not dead as many had expected and is capable of waging an intifada and making sacrifices for change, and for exposing the Arab regimes that claimed to care about human rights and the values of justice and democracy.”
Writing in the same paper, commentator Hussein Majdoubi said that in light of the collapse of the Tunisian regime, the future of the Arab dictatorships was now in question. He added that the rulers of Morocco, Libya, Algeria and Egypt could be next in line. He also expressed disappointment that the West was continuing to support Arab dictators, while ignoring the plight of the Arab masses.
Majdoubi said that the popular uprising in Tunisia showed the Western fear of radical Islam was unjustified and baseless.
In the Palestinian territories, many Palestinians also welcomed the removal of Bin Ali’s regime from power.
The Palestinian Authority, which had strong ties with the Tunisian regime, did not comment on the dramatic developments.  Tunisia played host to the PLO after the organization was expelled from Lebanon in the early 1980’s. Yasser Arafat and Mahmoud Abbas had their offices and homes in Tunis for nearly a decade before they moved to the Palestinian territories after the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993.
Hamas, for its part, warned that the PA leadership in the West Bank was likely to meet the same fate of Bin Ali.
“Mahmoud Abbas and his sons are among the wealthiest Palestinians,” Hamas said on Saturday. “Fatah leaders in the West Bank are very corrupt. “All indications are that the residents of the West Bank, who live under a tyrannical regime, are close to toppling the regime there. The people of the West Bank can no longer accept humiliation.”