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IN THE PAPERS

An overview of the stories making the French and international newspaper headlines. From Monday to Friday live at 7.20 am and 9.20 am Paris time.

Latest update : 2011-01-18

Tunisia: “Don’t allow your revolution to be stolen” (Al Quds Al Arabi)

INTERNATIONAL PAPERS, Tues., 18/1/2011: Today we look at the Tunisian revolution from different angles in the world’s press. Some analysts worry that the “unity” government is composed of the same old guard. Others fear that Islamists could come to power in the transition to democracy. We also look at criticism of the West’s response to the Tunisian uprising.

 

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“Don’t allow your revolution to be stolen,” says Abdel Bari Atwan in the pan-Arabic daily Al Quds al Arabi. “Don’t allow yourself to be manipulated by the old guard of the party…The personalities from the opposition are not real opponents as they always accommodated Ben Ali’s dictatorship and were fully under his thumb.” This reflects much of the concern in the analysis of the Tunisian uprising. We see similar concerns in Al Hayat, “the nature of dictatorships is to empty the country of any credible opposition.”
 
The Guardian’s headline reflects these worries:“Old guard, ‘new’ government.” “Many Tunisians are asking whether ousted president Ben Ali's old guard can be trusted with free and fair elections,” the paper notes.The prime minister himself, 69-year-old Mohamed Ghannouchi, is a Ben Ali loyalist of long standing, having served since 1999. In Tunisia, he became known as "Monsieur Oui Oui" for always saying yes to the president.”
 
“To many ordinary Tunisians, these are worrying signs. In the words of a trade unionist quoted on Twitter: "Tunisia has got rid of the dictator but hasn't got rid of the dictatorship yet."”
 
The New York Times looks at the possibility of the unrest spreading to other countries in the region. Unemployed graduate and fruit and vegetable salesman, Mohammed Bouzizi sparked the revolution in Tunisia by setting himself on fire. Similar events have occurred in Egypt, Mauritania and Algeria in the past two days. “While there are no signs that their actions inspired widespread protests, as the victims all apparently intended, the immolations stood as gruesome testimony to the power of the Tunisian example,” the paper notes.
 
El Watan in Algeria interviews politician Abdesselam Ali-Rachedi. Could what happened in Tunisia also happen in Algeria? He doesn’t think it’s possible in the short term. “The Tunisian army refused to fire on demonstrators and in the end sided with the anti-Ben Ali uprising. We cannot imagine a similar outcome in Algeria where the army is at the heart of power.”
 
In a very rushed fashion we look at three articles at the end. The Guardian looks at criticism of Nicolas Sarkozy’s Government. The former colonial power’s reaction to the uprising has been criticized by many who say Paris supported Ben Ali until the very end.
 
The Independent’s Robert Fisk thinks that Paris’s reaction is merely emblematic of the West’s attitude to the Arab world. “It's the same old problem for us in the West. We mouth the word "democracy" and we are all for fair elections – providing the Arabs vote for whom we want them to vote for.
 
In Algeria 20 years ago, they didn't. In "Palestine" they didn't. And in Lebanon, because of the so-called Doha accord, they didn't. So we sanction them, threaten them and warn them about Iran and expect them to keep their mouths shut when Israel steals more Palestinian land for its colonies on the West Bank.”
 
We finish with a look in Le Monde at “the online revolution” in Tunisia. Following in the footsteps of Moldova and Iran where revolts were organized online, Tunisia’s uprising has been termed the “Facebook revolution” by some. 

By James CREEDON

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