Sami Jamil Jadallah, 24 Jan 2011
Without taking away from the heroic and unprecedented persistent of the people and streets of Tunisia in uprooting and dispatching to exile in very humiliating way the klepto-dictator Bin Ali, the Jasmine Revolution showed us that formal opposition parties in the Arab world are not yet ready for prime time and not ready to take over managing a country on a moment notice. A failure and a shortcoming that all Arab opposition parties have to take into serious consideration. Countries and citizens could not afford the mistakes of the Tunisian opposition parties.
One has to recognize the republic of fear Bin Ali lead and imposed for over 23 years, governing through his private party the “Democratic Constitutional Rally” (RCD) that has been in power since Tunisian independence, a party not so different from the Baathist parties of both Saddam Hussein and Hafez Al-Assad and Arafat’s PLO.
Bin Ali was the darling of the US and France and most Western government because of his authoritarian regime that relied on secret jails, secret executions, secret trial, and army of informers on every corner, and a family and cronies that looted and fleeced the country. The West overlooked all of these crimes and violations of human rights simply because Bin Ali advanced himself the point man in the fight against “Islamist” and opened the doors for Israeli security agencies to operate freely in Tunis. The litmus test for Western support of any Arab dictator is his clamp down on “Islamist” organizations and of course his relationship with Israel. The fact that they kill, murder, rob and steal is irrelevant. The US was indifferent to what was happening in Tunis till few days before Bin Ali fled and France offered a quick shipment of gas canisters and series of police equipment to fight the will of the people.
The fact that Mohamed Ghannouchi, the man who was number 2 in the regime for over 12 years became the prime minister and who with Bin Ali is responsible for the repressive regime and the theft of the country on grand scale and the fact that Fouad Mebazaa remained leaders of the transition government, does not speak well of the Tunisian opposition parties which simply failed to step up the plate, take charge and lead the country and its transformation to an open democratic country with accountable and transparent government.
The transition government that relies on key officials of Bin Ali disgraced government is not a government that can represent the aspiration and hope of the People of Tunisia. Key members and functionaries of RCD responsible for the operation of the regime should be behind bars waiting their trials rather than leading the transition government.
Bin Ali like Saddam, Assad, Kaddafi, Mubarak and Al-Bashir have snuffed out the opposition, making sure that leaders are either killed, in jail or in exile, however that does not excuse the failures of the opposition to be parties to be better organized with a” Shadow government” with selection of key surviving leaders whether underground, in jails or exiles responsible for certain portfolios such as foreign affair, finance, economics, labor, social services, transportation, interior, defense and health among other key ministries. One can see these fatal failures in Iran, Iraq and now in Tunisia.
Tunisian opposition parties such as Movement of Socialist Democrats, Party of the Peoples’ Unity, Unionist Democratic Union, Renewal Movement (Ettajdid), General Party for Progress and Al-Nahda (Renaissance) Congress for the Republic all were surprised by the anger on the streets and did not lead the people as expected, should have been ready to step forward advancing competent and well qualified key members to take over the entire transitional government not simply accept minor ministries leaving those who took the country toward ruins to lead to chaos.
The Tunisian experience showed us that opposition parties do not get together and cooperate for the good of the country and people but always put their own selfish interest, perhaps the interests of their leadership ahead of any thing else. With so many well qualified and well educated people in Tunisia, for sure forming a transitional government independent of the RCD should be an easy task if the opposition parties were prepared and ready to lead. This failure and disorganization does not speak well not only of the Tunisian opposition parties but of all Arab opposition parties.
I am sure and convinced that if the Muslim Brotherhoods of Egypt and Jordan or the “Islamist” of Algeria were to take over and form a government they will fall on their face. Opposition parties must be ready to govern and rule and administer the country and prevent the country from slipping into chaos. What we have seen so far from opposition parties are fiery speeches and platform such as “Islam is the solution” slogans that are far from realities and offering citizens no solutions for education, health care, employment, transportation, defense and national security, equal opportunities, and clean efficient government. What happened in Iran after the overthrow of the Shah and what happened to Iraq after the overthrow of Saddam should be a lesson to all responsible opposition parties.
The failures of the opposition parties in Tunis to step and in and form the entire transitional government, should be a lesson for all opposition parties in the Arab world to form a “Shadow Government” similar to the one in the UK where key members are responsible for certain and defined ministerial portfolio with responsibilities for keeping up to date on issues and offering well defined plans and policies. The opposition parties in Tunis gets a failing marks, failing to lead the Jasmine Revolution and failing to step in and form the entire transitional government. In the end, “Mabrouk” and congratulation to the people of Tunisia. You have done it and showed it can be done without guns and military coups and without opposition parties.
Sami Jamil Jadallah is an international legal and business consultant and is the founder and director of Palestine Agency and Palestine Documentation Center www.palestineagency.com and founder and owner of several business in technology and services. Sami also runs an online website (Jefferson Corner)
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