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Tunisian Revolution Shakes and Inspires Middle East

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  • Every state and movement in the Middle East is reading into the events in Tunisia its own anxieties and aspirations.
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  • Tunisia revolt makes Islamist threat ring hollow
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Juan Cole, truthout

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The Tunisian uprising that overthrew the 23-year-old regime of strongman Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali had resonances throughout the Middle East.

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Leaders of countries invested in the region’s authoritarian and highly unequal status quo rejected the political revolution, while groups and states that want change welcomed it. The spectacle of masses of demonstrators pouring down Avenue Bourguiba in Tunis recently, overwhelming security forces and putting the president to flight, raised the hopes of the dispossessed and the downtrodden, even as it inspired a gathering dread in the breasts of the region’s dictators and absolute monarchs.

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Whether or not, as many observers rushed to predict, a wave of discontent will radiate from Tunis throughout the Arab world (and there are reasons to be cautious about that prospect), the “Jasmine Revolution” is a Rorschach test for distinguishing reactionaries from innovators in the region.

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Tunisia revolt makes Islamist threat ring hollow, Tom Pfeiffer, Reuters
The absence of Islamist slogans from Tunisia's pro-democracy revolt punches a hole in the argument of many Arab autocrats that they are the bulwark stopping religious radicals sweeping to power.