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And what of Tunisia? Everyone seemed endlessly enthusiastic about the deposing of secular dictator Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali. Now, we hear nothing about progress in that powerful source of the so-called Arab Spring. Prime Minister Beji Caid Essebsi took over for Ben Ali, but Tunisians believe he is a representative of the old guard – and now it looks as though there is a serious shot that Ennahda, an Islamist political party, will win the next open election. Says one Ennahda opponent, with Ennahda in power, “It would be Iran.” Ennahda pays lip service to openness and moderation, and the world press seems to have bought the line – but that doesn’t mean there’s any evidence at all for it. Ibrahim Letaief, a radio host in Tunisia, says, “They’re doing doublespeak, and everyone knows it.” According to the New York Times, Letaief says Ennahda “has only tempered its rhetoric in a bid to win votes, but in power would impose strict Islamic law.”
Should Muammar Qaddafi have been left in power? Of course not. But the fault here lies with the Obama Administration, which did nothing to find US allies in Libya and forward their agenda, rather than following the chaos from behind and dropping bombs from on high. The Obama Administration chose the same path in Egypt, and the result has been their strong move towards Islamism; the Obama Administration did the same thing in Tunisia, and now they too stand on the brink. Should we find comfort in the idea that the Obama Administration is now calling for the ouster of Syria’s President Bashar Assad? If past history is any indicator, Assad will be replaced by someone even worse.
There are three real victims in all of this. The first is the moderates in these countries, who fight for their freedom, only to fall victim to the well-organized Muslim Brotherhood-backed movements that usually take power. They simply transition from life under tyranny to life under more strict Islamist tyranny. The second group of victims is the world markets, which are now subject to the oil whims of Islamists. The third group is the Israelis, who are the scapegoat for all Islamist racism and ire, and whom the first two groups are only too happy to blame for all of their problems.
So, should we celebrate with Ajami? Not yet. After all, Iran once had a revolution, too. Not every revolution is the American revolution. In fact, very few are, and none have been in the Muslim world.
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