What Tunisia Portends

Last week was one of the rare weeks of change in the middle east or lets say the broader Arab world. After being in power for better part of 25 years, the president of this small Mediterranean country was forced to flee the country. Let me just give you facts as to why this is important. The whole Arab world from Morocco to Iran (Iran & Turkey and not exactly Arab, but we are still branding them for region's entirety.) is filled with despots, monarch and president-for-life types rulers. This is one place where democracy has still to find its feet. Maybe this could be the trigger for broader change. The rulers of Egypt, Algeria and others need to be worried that their local alienated population does not take cues from events unfolding in Tunisia. The problems with this region are unique, especially in the sense that the region as such is not poor. Tunisia has oil wealth as well as tourism, but given the rapid population growth rates that Arab countries are experiencing, jobs are not being created to absorb them. So alienation and frustration is spilling on to streets and since there are no checks & balances in the political system, no safety valves.. it boils over. This problem is same as what is staring in the face of Egypt, Morocco and countless others. Add to this mix, the rising militant Islam, the growth of conservative Muslim influence, Al Queda lurking in the shadows in the vast Sahara and extreme distribution of oil wealth, these events have the power to reshape the entire Arab landscape. Time will tell if a small vegetable vendor's death was the harbinger of change sweeping the vast desert expanse. Time will tell!

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