The Tunisian Revolution is already being compared to the fall of the Berlin Wall:
Andoni, Lamis. To the tyrants of the Arab world …. Al Jazeera. 2011 Jan 16. Available from: http://english.aljazeera.net/indepth/opinion/2011/01/2011115135046129936.html.
The head of the Arab League has warned Arab heads of state that they might be next if they don’t clean up their acts:
Arab leaders warned of ‘revolution’: head of Arab League warns regional leaders that recent political upheaval is linked to deteriorating economic situation. Al Jazeera. 2011 Jan 19. Available from: http://english.aljazeera.net/news/middleeast/2011/01/2011119165427303423.html.
Nor is this entirely speculation. Not only have there been recent violent confrontations in Albania, Algeria, and Yemen (so far!), but in Albania, even prime minister Sali Berisha has made the comparison with Tunisia:
Four shot dead in Albania clashes: four people killed and dozens injured in extensive anti-government clashes with police outside PM’s office in Tirana. Al Jazeera. 2011 Jan 22. Available from: http://english.aljazeera.net/news/europe/2011/01/201112119754408514.html.
Although, in an unintentionally comic twist, Berisha has compared the socialist leadership of the protests to the ousted Tunisian dictator:
Berisha called the protests an opposition attempt to foment a Tunisia-style uprising. “The bastard children of Albania’s own Ben Alis conceived Tunisian scenarios … for you citizens of Albania,” he said, comparing his Socialist political opponents with the ousted Tunisian president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.
In Yemen, demonstrators are calling for the removal of President Ali Abdullah Saleh; their chant of protest is “Oh, Ali, join your friend Ben Ali”:
Yemen protests urge leader’s exit: thousands of students, activists and opposition groups stage anti-president protest at Sanaa University. Al Jazeera. 2011 Jan 23. Available from: http://english.aljazeera.net/news/middleeast/2011/01/201112314714887766.html.
In Algeria, demonstrations are being held in the face of martial law, which has been in place since 1992:
Algerian democracy rally broken up: several injured as police disperse 300 people who defied a ban and attempted to demonstrate in capital, Algiers. Al Jazeera. 2011 Jan 22. Available from: http://english.aljazeera.net/news/africa/2011/01/2011122105819527114.html.
In Tunisia itself, the Revolution is not over. There are continuing protests against the interim government, which still contains many faces familiar from the ex-president’s sham government, and which remains so unpopular that even some of the police are now putting down their batons, and joining in the protests:
Police join protests in Tunisia: PM’s pledge to quit politics after elections fails to pacify demonstrators demanding dissolution of interim government. Al Jazeera. 2011 Jan 22. Available from: http://english.aljazeera.net/news/africa/2011/01/2011122133816146515.html.
Since the Tunisian Revolution is worldwide news, we should keep our eyes on simultaneous protests against autocratic rule even in places where the influence of the Tunisian example is not yet evident, such as Belarus:
Belarus police arrest protesters: as Alexander Lukashenko is sworn in, many opposition supporters stage protests. Al Jazeera. 2011 Jan 22. Available from: http://english.aljazeera.net/news/europe/2011/01/2011122215316266586.html.
Welcome to the world of 2011. The following post from late last year is already starting to look quite prescient, although in retrospect its phrasing is a bit too Eurocentric:
Rusty1776. All is not silent in the Halls of the Dead. Firedoglake. 2010 Dec 13. Available from: http://my.firedoglake.com/rusty1776/2010/12/13/all-is-not-silent-in-the-halls-of-the-dead/.
There is no guarantee yet that any of these incipient revolutions will succeed; that includes the Tunisian Revolution itself, since the interim government may yet find a way to maintain its privileges and forestall the establishment of true democracy in Tunisia. But the historical significance of the European revolutions of 1848 did not depend on their long-term success, either. There is no excuse for continuing to pretend that the Tunisian Revolution is merely a minor incident in a single small country. It should be obvious to everyone at this point that its significance is not just national or even regional, but worldwide and pervasive.Cross-posted at Mosquito Cloud.