The following is an excerpt from my recent analysis of Tunisia's current turmoil following another political assassination. Read the full article here at Jadaliyya.
Read the rest here.
Two years ago, hope was not only palpable in the streets of Tunis; it was infectious. Young Arabs had risen up and triumphed against a Western-supported dictator whose police state ran on fear. Similar uprisings across the region seemed to have confirmed that Tunisia had led the way towards a new, more democratic order. And Tunisia was about to lead the way again by holding a clean election, almost unprecedented in the Middle East and North Africa.
Now, hope is in rare supply across the region. Egypt’s elections yielded new leaders that blindly and illiberally ran the country along strict partisan lines until a military coup publicly reasserted old-regime institutions. Libya’s timid leaders and bold militias have hampered democracy, security and institution building. Syria’s revolution turned into a bloody war and a hellish game for external actors, while Lebanon desperately tries to quarantine itself from the neighboring chaos. Western observers use increasingly desperate euphemisms for Iraq’s escalating civil war. No one dares talk about Bahrain, or perhaps no one cares. Other Gulf countries quietly quarrel amongst themselves through political and economic maneuvering in neighboring proxy countries.
While numerous pundits bemoan “Arab Spring” fatigue, many still believed that tiny Tunisia alone might overcome its challenges to create a new inclusive, civic, stable, free, and prosperous political order. But what started in Tunisia may soon end in Tunisia as the gains of the “Arab Spring” are systematically rolled back with the help of old regime forces, ascendant ideological zealots, domestic lassitude, and powerful outside players that are uncomfortable with independent, populist politics in the region.
Read the rest here.