On 19 January 2011, the Dutch Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal is reported as saying that he is "very concerned about the way things are developing in Tunisia."
"The situation is deteriorating rapidly and is becoming more dangerous." (Europeans warn nationals to avoid Tunisia)
"Fidelity and its affiliates helped dozens of Americans and other foreign workers leave the country over the weekend." (Cisco latest firm to suspend Tunisia operations)
In Washington, "Undersecretary for Management Pat Kennedy has approved the authorized departure of dependents from Tunisia." (Tunisia.)
"Men in unmarked cars had been driving around Sousse and shooting random people out of their cars." (RI blogger reporting from center of unrest in Tunisia)
According to Oxford historian Mark Almond (What comes next could be even worse):
"President Obama has welcomed the changes in Tunisia...
"The discontent in Tunisia will only increase. Tourism has been for Tunisia what oil is for its neighbours. The mass evacuation of Western holidaymakers is a warning of further economic troubles to come..."Tourists will not enjoy shootings, riots, bodies in streets... horrific
Are NATO security services involved?
Jan. 16 (Tunisian security forces arrest eight foreign nationals) - "The Tunisian army and security forces arrested eight foreign nationals including four Germans, the Tunisian television reported Sunday.
"Tunisian TV showed footage of the men arrested, as well weapons, maps, electronic equipment and identity papers.
"The group was travelling on board three taxis, when they were intercepted.
"They are said to have entered Tunisia on Jan. 9.
"Some of them were wearing military outfits."
We should not forget that the CIA has supported Islamists in such countries as Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, Iraq and Kosovo. (THE CIA'S MOSLEM FRIENDS, FROM BIN LADEN TO THE MOSLEM BROTHERHOOD.)
Tunisia's Islamists seem to be getting a bit of a boost from the media.
On 18 January 2011, the Guardian has an article by Soumaya Ghannoushi entitled 'Tunisians must dismantle the monster Ben Ali built'
Among the points she makes:
1. The people have to forge a coalition of socialists, Islamists and liberals for real change.
2. "The sense of despair and profound humiliation Arabs felt with the toppling of Saddam's tyrannical regime by the US contrasts sharply with their euphoria at the ousting of Tunisia's dictator."
3. In Tunisia, "the apparatus of repression laid down by Habib Bourguiba, Tunisia's charismatic 'founding father', was fine-tuned by the general who inherited it."
4. The task now facing the Tunisian people - is to build a wide coalition of the forces that can dismantle the legacy of the despotic post-colonial state.
This has been the driving force for the alliance being forged between the Communist Workers' Party, led by Hamma al-Hammami, the charismatic Moncef al-Marzouqi's Congress Party for the Republic, and (Islamist) Ennahda, led by my father Rachid Ghannouchi, along with trade unionists, and civil society activists.
The Tunisian stock market began to fall before the riots began - Bloomberg (Website for this image)
In 2006, US embassy cables considered the question of finding a successor to Ben Ali in Tunisia
(US embassy cables: Finding a successor to Ben Ali in Tunisia)
Cable dated: 2006-01-09 - SUBJECT: SUCCESSION IN TUNISIA: FINDING A SUCCESSOR OR FEET FIRST? - Classified By: AMBASSADOR WILLIAM HUDSON
Among the points made:
1. the US-Tunisian bilateral relationship is likely to remain unaffected by the departure of Ben Ali.
2. X recently told the Ambassador X that Ben Ali wants to avoid the "difficulties" that arose when Tunisia's first president, Habib Bourguiba, declined in 1987.
Some people may state their hope that U.S. and European pressure could force Ben Ali to ... relinquish the presidency.
3. POSSIBLE SUCCESSORS
Minister of Defense Morjane: affecting the credibility of succession scenarios is an oft-repeated notion that the US is favoring Morjane in the succession race.
May 2010 - General William E. Ward, commander of U.S. Africa Command, visited Tunisia and met Tunisian Minister of Defense Ridha Grira.
"Minister Grira had recently returned from very positive talks in Washington with Secretary of Defense Robert Gates." (Tunisia - U.S. Africa Command Blog)
October 2010 - Sakhr El Materi, chairman of the Tunisia-US Parliamentary Friendship Group, had talks with top Americans in the Pentagon and the State Department.
November 2010 - A cable from the US embassy in Tunis released by wikileaks describes Tunisia's President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali's family entourage as a "quasi Mafia" because of its "organized corruption".
17 December - Mohamed Bouazizi, a 26-year-old university graduate, reportedly set himself alight in the central Tunisian town of Sidi Bouzid in a protest over unemployment.
Tunisia's current president is President Fouad Mebazza.
Was Tunisian army chief General Ammar part of the plot to topple Ben Ali?
According to the Independent (Head of Tunisian army.):
General Ammar "advised the President, claim Arab sources, that his safety could not be guaranteed if he attempted to cling on to power.
"Gen Ammar subsequently withdrew the vast bulk of his forces from the capital...
"Walid Chisti, a political analyst, said: "He does not have to do anything, just watch and wait. He is an ambitious man."