Tunisia—Echos of the Iranian Revolution
Much of the NYT coverage of Tunisia has an eerie similarity to the Times breathless pronouncements about young Iranians who deposed the “vicious” Shah in the name of democracy, human rights, and “freedom” in the late 1970s. We all know how that turned out. The “revolution” in Iran (encouraged by the Carter administration) culminated with an anti-democratic, Islamist theocracy that today is certainly no less brutal than the Shah’s and unquestionably more dangerous.
But the Tunisian revolution does represent an interesting potential opening for the West, as well as a threat to other authoritarian Islamic regimes throughout the Arab crescent. It is also fraught with danger. Khairi Abaza explains:
“The toppling of Tunisia’s longtime dictator, Ben Ali, recalled the last days of the Shah, when riots against poor living conditions and calls for human rights quickly turned into demands for getting rid of a dictator. The Iranian revolution did not start as an “Islamist revolution,” but rather as a genuinely anti-authoritarian uprising in which liberals, communists, independents, and Islamists all took part. For a short period, the Islamists even worked with other political forces until they consolidated their power, then turning against their erstwhile allies and destroying them violently …