Die brutale Wahrheit über Tunesien / The brutal truth about Tunisia
Der Westen ist an stabilen Regimen im arabischen Raum interessiert, nicht an Demokratie. Ein Beitrag des Nahost-Experten Robert Fisk
Im Folgenden dokumentieren wir einen interessanten Kommentar des Nahostexperten Robert Fisk aus der britischen Zeitung "The Independent". Darin widmet sich Fisk der Geschichte und Gegenwart diktatorischer Regime in der arabischen Welt und stellt die Frage, ob mit dem Sturz des tunesischen Diktators Ben Ali nun auch das Ende anderer arabischer Diktatoren bevorstehe. Er verneint die Frage, u.a. mit dem Hinweis darauf, dass ja auch der Westen ein Interesse weniger an demokratischen Regimen im Nahen und Mittleren Osten, sondern an "stabilen" Regimen hat. Auch der überraschende Umsturz in Tunesien werde kaum in eine Demokratie führen. Eher befürchtet er, dass sich in Tunesien das Schicksal Algerien wiederholen könnte. Dort seien Anfang der 90er Jahre des 20. Jahrhunderts die demokratischen Wahlen annuliert worden, weil die "Falschen", nämlich eine islamistische Gruppierung gewonnen hat. Von Marokko über Ãgypten bis nach Saudi-Arabien schätze der Westen vor allem die "Stabilität"; Demokratie wäre zwar auch ganz fein, aber nur, wenn auch die gewählt werden, die der Westen gewählt haben möchte. "We mouth the word 'democracy' and we are all for fair elections - providing the Arabs vote for whom we want them to vote for."
The brutal truth about Tunisia
By Robert Fisk, Middle East Correspondent *
The end of the age of dictators in the Arab world?
Certainly they are shaking in their boots across the
Middle East, the well-heeled sheiks and emirs, and the
kings, including one very old one in Saudi Arabia and a
young one in Jordan, and presidents - another very old
one in Egypt and a young one in Syria - because Tunisia
wasn't meant to happen. Food price riots in Algeria,
too, and demonstrations against price increases in
Amman. Not to mention scores more dead in Tunisia,
whose own despot sought refuge in Riyadh - exactly the
same city to which a man called Idi Amin once fled.
If it can happen in the holiday destination Tunisia, it
can happen anywhere, can't it? It was feted by the West
for its "stability" when Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali was in
charge. The French and the Germans and the Brits, dare
we mention this, always praised the dictator for being
a "friend" of civilised Europe, keeping a firm hand on
all those Islamists.
Tunisians won't forget this little history, even if we
would like them to. The Arabs used to say that
two-thirds of the entire Tunisian population - seven
million out of 10 million, virtually the whole adult
population - worked in one way or another for Mr Ben
Ali's secret police. They must have been on the streets
too, then, protesting at the man we loved until last
week. But don't get too excited. Yes, Tunisian youths
have used the internet to rally each other - in
Algeria, too - and the demographic explosion of youth
(born in the Eighties and Nineties with no jobs to go
to after university) is on the streets. But the "unity"
government is to be formed by Mohamed Ghannouchi, a
satrap of Mr Ben Ali's for almost 20 years, a safe pair
of hands who will have our interests - rather than his
people's interests - at heart.
For I fear this is going to be the same old story. Yes,
we would like a democracy in Tunisia - but not too much
democracy. Remember how we wanted Algeria to have a
democracy back in the early Nineties?
Then when it looked like the Islamists might win the
second round of voting, we supported its
military-backed government in suspending elections and
crushing the Islamists and initiating a civil war in
which 150,000 died.
No, in the Arab world, we want law and order and
stability. Even in Hosni Mubarak's corrupt and
corrupted Egypt, that's what we want. And we will get
The truth, of course, is that the Arab world is so
dysfunctional, sclerotic, corrupt, humiliated and
ruthless - and remember that Mr Ben Ali was calling
Tunisian protesters "terrorists" only last week - and
so totally incapable of any social or political
progress, that the chances of a series of working
democracies emerging from the chaos of the Middle East
stand at around zero per cent.
The job of the Arab potentates will be what it has
always been - to "manage" their people, to control
them, to keep the lid on, to love the West and to hate
Indeed, what was Hillary Clinton doing last week as
Tunisia burned? She was telling the corrupted princes
of the Gulf that their job was to support sanctions
against Iran, to confront the Islamic republic, to
prepare for another strike against a Muslim state after
the two catastrophes the United States and the UK have
already inflicted in the region.
The Muslim world - at least, that bit of it between
India and the Mediterranean - is a more than sorry
mess. Iraq has a sort-of-government that is now a
satrap of Iran, Hamid Karzai is no more than the mayor
of Kabul, Pakistan stands on the edge of endless
disaster, Egypt has just emerged from another fake
And Lebanon... Well, poor old Lebanon hasn't even got a
government. Southern Sudan - if the elections are fair
- might be a tiny candle, but don't bet on it.
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
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.
There was a fearful irony that the police theft of an
ex-student's fruit produce - and his suicide in Tunis -
should have started all this off, not least because Mr
Ben Ali made a failed attempt to gather public support
by visiting the dying youth in hospital.
For years, this wretched man had been talking about a
"slow liberalising" of his country. But all dictators
know they are in greatest danger when they start
freeing their entrapped countrymen from their chains.
And the Arabs behaved accordingly. No sooner had Ben
Ali flown off into exile than Arab newspapers which
have been stroking his fur and polishing his shoes and
receiving his money for so many years were vilifying
the man. "Misrule", "corruption", "authoritarian
reign", "a total lack of human rights", their
journalists are saying now. Rarely have the words of
the Lebanese poet Khalil Gibran sounded so painfully
accurate: "Pity the nation that welcomes its new ruler
with trumpetings, and farewells him with hootings, only
to welcome another with trumpetings again." Mohamed
Of course, everyone is lowering their prices now - or
promising to. Cooking oil and bread are the staple of
the masses. So prices will come down in Tunisia and
Algeria and Egypt. But why should they be so high in
the first place?
Algeria should be as rich as Saudi Arabia - it has the
oil and gas - but it has one of the worst unemployment
rates in the Middle East, no social security, no
pensions, nothing for its people because its generals
have salted their country's wealth away in Switzerland.
And police brutality. The torture chambers will keep
going. We will maintain our good relations with the
dictators. We will continue to arm their armies and
tell them to seek peace with Israel.
And they will do what we want. Ben Ali has fled. The
search is now on for a more pliable dictator in Tunisia
- a "benevolent strongman" as the news agencies like to
call these ghastly men.
And the shooting will go on - as it did yesterday in
Tunisia - until "stability" has been restored.
No, on balance, I don't think the age of the Arab
dictators is over. We will see to that.
* The Independent, Monday, 17 January 2011; www.independent.co.uk
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