Despite all this activity, the Tunisian events were hardly noticed until the hard news broke internationally last Friday that the Tunisian government had finally collapsed. It wasn't much of a surprise inside the country, but news anchors around the world appeared stunned. How had they missed it? Until then, three weeks of conflict and more than 70 deaths of Tunisian citizens, many shot dead by police aiming to kill not injure, had captured little attention from the Western mainstream press.
The world is certainly aware of Tunisia now. The obligatory front page headlines have indeed been written. However, the Revolution now seems to be in the hands of Tunisian government officials and the army. Until the West acknowledges the real grassroots leadership of the revolution and reaches out to provide them with support in the form of global awareness, there is a huge risk of even greater violence breaking out as Tunisians become further disillusioned in their fight for attention from the outside world that supposedly champions freedom, democracy and human rights above all other values. There is also a great risk that the entire uprising will be hijacked by extremist influences with their own ulterior motives that have little to do with these same values. Is this what the West wants?
It goes without saying that a 23-year-old, entrenched dictatorship cannot be eradicated overnight. Former President (President-for-life) Ben Ali, along with his wife, Leila Trebalsi, controlled Tunisia to the tightest extent possible by stifling all opposition, packing the various branches of government with family members, and maintaining controlling stakes in key sectors of Tunisia's economy. Although Ben Ali has been officially ousted, most of his people remain in their positions. The Ben Ali and Trebalsi families still own large chunks of Tunisia's economy, and this continues to pose a major obstacle to the ultimate goals of the real Jasmine Revolution.
At the time of this writing, the leaders of the Jasmine Revolution continue their battle on Facebook and other online sites. They have posted a manifesto at: http://www.facebook.com/Kaloutcha.Hamadi (among other places) and they are calling for mass demonstrations today, January 16th, at 11 am local time.
The Jasmine Revolution does have leaders and this is what they have to say:
"Youth Tunisia" demands:
1. dissolution of the RCD;
2. that all of those involved in the killings, torture, and corruption of RCD party are brought to justice;
3. creation of an independent constituent assembly including various shades of opposition, including unrecognized parties and associations and trade unions;
4. undertake legal declaration of a new constitution;
5. organize elections.
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Facebook Page , Tunisia Riots: English Information.
Al Jazeera International Television, January 15, 2011