The Sorrows of Egypt: A Tale of Two Men
Back to the Bazaar
Freedom and Justice in the Modern Middle East
Adrift on the Nile
The Limits of the Opposition in Egypt
Is El Baradei Egypt's Hero?
Mohamed El Baradei and the Chance for Reform
Morning in Tunisia
The Frustrations of the Arab World Boil Over
Letter From Cairo
The People's Military in Egypt?
The U.S.-Egyptian Breakup
Washington's Limited Options in Cairo
The Muslim Brotherhood After Mubarak
What the Brotherhood Is and How it Will Shape the Future
Egypt's Democratic Mirage
How Cairo’s Authoritarian Regime Is Adapting to Preserve Itself
Overcoming Fear and Anxiety in Tel Aviv
How Israel Can Turn Egypt's Unrest Into an Opportunity
Mubarakism Without Mubarak
Why Egypt’s Military Will Not Embrace Democracy
Postcolonial Time Disorder
Egypt and the Middle East, Stuck in the Past
Egypt's Constitutional Ghosts
Deciding the Terms of Cairo’s Democratic Transition
A Tunisian Solution for Egypt’s Military
Why Egypt's Military Will Not Be Able to Govern
The Fall of the Pharaoh
How Hosni Mubarak’s Reign Came to an End
The Black Swan of Cairo
How Suppressing Volatility Makes the World Less Predictable and More Dangerous
Green Movement 2.0?
How U.S. Support Could Lead the Opposition to Victory
Letter From Sana’a
Saleh on the Edge
Bahrain’s Shia Question
What the United States Gets Wrong About Sectarianism
Rage Comes to Baghdad
Will Iraq's Recent Protests Lead to Revolt?
The Sturdy House That Assad Built
Why Damascus Is Not Cairo
Rageless in Riyadh
Why the Al Saud Dynasty Will Remain
Syria's Assad No Longer in Vogue
What Everyone Got Wrong About Bashar al-Assad
Meanwhile in the Maghreb
Have Algeria and Morocco Avoided North Africa’s Unrest?
Bahrain's Base Politics
The Arab Spring and America’s Military Bases
Let Them Eat Bread
How Food Subsidies Prevent (and Provoke) Revolutions in the Middle East
Libya's Terra Incognita
Who and What Will Follow Qaddafi?
What Intervention Looks Like
How the West Can Aid the Libyan Rebels
The Folly of Protection
Is Intervention Against Qaddafi’s Regime Legal and Legitimate?
To the Shores of Tripoli
Why Operation Odyssey Dawn Should Not Stop At Benghazi
A New Lease on Life for Humanitarianism
How Operation Odyssey Dawn Will Revive RtoP
The Mythology of Intervention
Debating the Lessons of History in Libya
Flight of the Valkyries?
What Gender Does and Doesn’t Tell Us About Operation Odyssey Dawn
Winning Ugly in Libya
What the United States Should Learn From Its War in Kosovo
Demystifying the Arab Spring
Parsing the Differences Between Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya
Understanding the Revolutions of 2011
Weakness and Resilience in Middle Eastern Autocracies
The Heirs of Nasser
Who Will Benefit From the Second Arab Revolution?
The Rise of the Islamists
How Islamists Will Change Politics, and Vice Versa
Terrorism After the Revolutions
How Secular Uprisings Could Help (or Hurt) Jihadists
Last Friday, Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali fled Tunisia after 23 years as president. He was driven out of the country by the cumulative pressure of a month of protests, sparked by a young man's economic despair and subsequent self-immolation. Much of the reporting on the demonstrations has emphasized Tunisians' economic grievances: unemployment, inflation, and the high cost of living.
But material difficulties were not the central driver in pushing Ben Ali from power. After all, economically motivated riots broke out in Tunisia in the early 1980s but did not bring down the government of then President Habib Bourguiba. And Ben Ali's promises in the middle of the most recent unrest to boost employment and cut the prices of basic goods could not stop the momentum of the protests.
On a more fundamental level, Tunisians are protesting dictatorship. They have had just two presidents since the country's independence from France in 1956. The first was Bourguiba, who led the independence battle against the French and then erected a secular, single-party authoritarian regime. The second was Ben Ali, who engineered Bourguiba's ouster in 1987, when it appeared that Bourguiba had grown too old and detached to govern effectively. Despite his early rhetoric emphasizing political pluralism, Ben Ali cracked down against free speech and any potential dissent. He cited the danger posed by the country's Islamists, who gave some cause for concern over the extent to which, if elected, they would respect democracy and the relatively equal rights Tunisian women had achieved after independence. During the 1990s, he eliminated the Islamist movement and consolidated an even darker and more repressive dictatorship than that of Bourguiba. Ben Ali retained Bourguiba's governing political party, renaming it the Constitutional Democratic Rally. The name was a cynical choice, for Ben Ali's Tunisia would come to have zero press freedoms, a censored Internet, monitored phone and e-mail communications, and only token opposition in a toothless parliament.
Yet these were not necessarily the features of the regime against which tens of thousands of
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