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Rubin Reports

With Libya going down the drain, Egypt daily moving toward an Islamist dictatorship, and Syria in a bloody civil war between Sunni and Shia Islamists, how is Tunisia — the most potentially moderate Arab state which had the best chance of achieving democracy — doing?

Not very well.

Anna Mahjar-Barducci, one of the best authors writing about North Africa, has produced a comprehensive article on Tunisia for MEMRI. She is also author of “Understanding the `Islamist Wave’ in Tunisia,” which appeared in the MERIA Journal (of which I am the editor).

While Tunisia is being run by a coalition of the Muslim Brotherhood and two secular parties, the Brotherhood’s power is growing, while Salafist groups are free to intimidate people. The most vocal opposition leader, Chokri Belaid, was assassinated; indications are that this killing was backed and even organized by the ruling Islamists.

President Moncef Marzouki is being described as weak in the face of this Brotherhood takeover. A former human rights advocate, he is backing down to the Brotherhood’s al-Nahda Party, the largest party in the government. He has called the opposition “secular extremists” who are seeking to stage a coup, but he never criticizes the violent Salafists.

Note that his claiming the opposition seeks to seize power by force authorizes “regime defenders” to attack them by force. In fact, Marzouki threatened that opposition members who were trying to overthrow the government would be hung. He has threatened anyone criticizing Qatar — al-Nahda’s financier — with prison.

Unlike other Arab countries, however, the moderate democratic opposition is well-organized and has not been intimidated. Not yet, anyway.

On March 31, 2013, Marzouki’s own party — the National Council of the Congress for the Republic — appointed the president’s chief of staff Imed Daimi as secretary-general. He was soon forced to resign, however, when it was pointed out that it was strange to have a “center-left” and “secular” party led by a man with a long record of having been an Islamist militant. He was also a featured speaker for the Turkish Islamist front group, Union of Good, which has connections with terrorist groups.

Whatever Daimi’s current views, the idea that the president’s party and one of the governing coalition’s two “liberal” members would have been headed by an Islamist fellow traveler stirred up strong objections.

Like the Communists historically, Islamist groups have been adept at creating front groups, fellow travelers, and massive disinformation campaigns (see the creation of the “Islamophobia” theme in the West).

Meanwhile, the main Salafist group in Tunisia — Ansar al-Sharia, which has periodically engaged in low-level violence – has now threatened to launch a war of terrorism against the ruling party, which it says is only pretending to be Islamist.

Here’s a MEMRI report on this threat. And here’s an example of the kind of riot that results.

One columnist in the Guardian is critical of the Muslim Brotherhood ruling party in Tunisia. Why? Because it is moving in an anti-democratic direction? No. Because it isn’t working hard enough to integrate the “moderate” Salifists. Note this new invention, following that of the “moderate” Islamists and “moderate” Muslim Brotherhood.

Meanwhile, to show Tunisia’s gratitude for the Obama administration’s help in its turnover of power to the Brotherhood, twenty people were sentenced for an attack on the U.S. embassy in which four assailants were killed and many wounded last September. They received a two-year suspended sentence. Tunisia is also the only Arab country where an eternal refusal to accept Israel, even if Israel and the Palestinians agree on a two-state solution, is written into the Constitution.

At any rate, things do not look good for Tunisia. And if Tunisia can’t make a real, non-Islamist democracy, there is scant hope for Egypt, Syria, or any other Arab state to do so.

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Top Rated Comments   
Treatment of Christians; the new constitution; new NGO law; new media regulations; arrests for "Islamic" and other heresy type crimes, harassment on public behavior, and many more things which are daily reported--often in the Egyptian media--is contrary evidence. Read what many Egyptians say and look at the polls.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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All Comments   (28)
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Feel free to thank obama for this state of affairs now or later. This is what he wanted, you have never heard him say "i made a mistake" because he does not consider the out come a failure of his policies though he still might try to blame Bush.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Gee, who could have guessed this might happen? Too bad, Tunisia used to be a beautiful place - just like Morocco (which won't last long either).
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
EscapeVelocity, God hear you!! Let the white boys get their S**t together and deal with the barbarians. It is scary but nothing can save western civilization but a good World War of extermination of the Muslim totalitarian barbarian.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Why do pundits and academics continue to sell the idea that there is a moderate democratic Islamic faction in any one of these hell holes? Even lay men like me can see that the Arab Spring is a sham concocted by delusional -now- it- all and anti-American conspirators in the present regime in office.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
We should make no mistake here. Islam in its ideology is little different from that of the Soviets except that only one Islamic country so far has nuclear weapons. The Koran tells Muslims that they must conquor the world for Islam, and so far they are doing a pretty good job of it.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The odds that Tunisia can become any kind of a democracy is Zero and None. Tunisia is destined to be under the MB right along with every Islamist Country in the Middle East and around the world.
The Muslim Brotherhood is the tool for the Islamic movement and they are supported by the House of Saud. Follow the money and you will find where the power is always.
After Syria falls next comes Jordan, next comes Lebanon. Now Israel is completely surrounded and can be defeated by people throwing rocks or maybe using slingshots. This is where all of this is headed.
All of this Arab Spring is a movement to unite against Israel and bring them down.
You have probably noticed that Obama did not visit Israel until recently and he is keeping aloof from this Arab Spring garbage, even though he was instrumental in getting it started. Remeember what he said when he spoke the the MB in Egypt. He was not giving idle chatter, he was telling them 'he had their backs'.
Wake up, trouble is coming to our Nation very quickly from Islam.....
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
America does not know who its enemy truly is.

When people grow a backbone and are no longer afraid to say Saudi Arabia is the protagonist of global terror we might actually get somewhere.
Unfortunately our leadership since Nixon has bent over backwards to accommodate and pacify their every whim, assisted by a willing media including PJM.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
With the lunatic leaders in the US that have been supporting jihadis that are killing Christians across the Middle East you can depend on them being consistent; i.e., they will support the Muslim Brotherhood in Tunisia.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The only hope left is in superior military capability and a policy of containment.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The only hope left is superior military and deportation of all Muslims from our Nation. Followed by Erasing all evidence that they ever were here.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
There is plain evidence Egypt has moved away from a dictatorship. It was in all the news. There is no evidence Egypt is moving towards a dictatorship, Islamist or otherwise. There is no scholarship to support such a view, unless one considers rank speculation a form of academia or reportage.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Treatment of Christians; the new constitution; new NGO law; new media regulations; arrests for "Islamic" and other heresy type crimes, harassment on public behavior, and many more things which are daily reported--often in the Egyptian media--is contrary evidence. Read what many Egyptians say and look at the polls.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Even if that were all true, it doesn't constitute a dictatorship. Aside from the religious aspect, that description could be about America.

The emergency law in place for 3 decades has been gone for a year now. Here's what Wiki says about it:

"During the time that the law was enforced, police powers were extended, constitutional rights were suspended, and heavy censorship was enforced. The law prohibited all non-governmental political activity, street demonstrations and non-approved political organizations, and unregistered financial donations were formally banned. Some 17,000 people were detained under the law, and estimates of political prisoners were as high as 30,000."

Today, right now, you have comedians openly mocking Morsi on television and people protest in the streets against Morsi weekly; both unthinkable before the revolution.

And might I remind you, no matter what you think of it, that the new Constitution was voted on by 2/3 in a two-stage referendum, although the voter turn-out was very low. It's the first time a Constitution has been drafted by an elected body; of course there are problems.

There are trade-offs in the new Constitution: Sharia is still the main source of law, but defined in vague principle for the first time as "evidence, rules, jurisprudence and sources." Hardly a body blow in an Islamic country and will be defined by Al-Ahzar, no friend to salafis. It's true you can't defame religion but that includes Christians and has been acted on.

More importantly, the President is now restricted to 2 four year terms.

I said this in Feb. 2011 and I'll say it again: the MB is incapable of seizing power in Egypt. They simply don't have that kind of support, and probably less than they had when Morsi was elected. They certainly don't have the numbers on the ground. Would they? Probably. Can they? No. There is no evidence Egypt is heading towards a dictatorship but rather, away from one.

The real disaster in the Constitution is that the larger governing economic bureaucracy may as well be from the Mamluk Sultans. Egypt has no chance of economic reform with such a Constitution, which leads me to believe it'll be changed again within a few years, especially considering the low voter turn-out for its creation, its vagueness, and similarities to the old one.

A much more important story is the proposed series of dams in Ethiopia, something I predicted would happen. That is a disaster for Egypt, which can say good-bye to 25% of the Nile and and 35% of its hydropower. I'd love to see who's financing that. Egypt for at least 50 years has declared such interruption of the Nile's flow an act of war. A journalist who wrote about the funding was tried as a terrorist and sentenced to two years in prison.

Build a dam to the South of Egypt and I can more effectively control them than with an army, as long as those dams are protected with a low-cost missile shield. Egypt can't reach that far south anyway and they have American jets. Oops!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Fail, you are wrong and daily events reported by the corrupt MSM show how Egypt keeps going to hell daily. You may believe any fiction you want, but the rest of us here know different. No amount of Islamic propaganda will change reality. I say Egyptians can go to hell. And you too.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
You could have mentioned that the US supports the MB in Egypt, and therefore, more suffering for the Coptic Christians.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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