One wonders if we will see a swathe of islamist regimes in North africa now. I hope not, but I fear that is what will happen.
The hasty departure of Tunisian strongman Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali for a life in exile reveals how brittle and lacking in public support are most of the Arab regimes.
The swift collapse of Ben Ali’s 23-year-old dictatorship unmasked the lie that autocrats in the Arab world — or autocrats anywhere, including Communist China — supported by their military and security network are invulnerable to popular opposition.
As I indicated in my column last week on China, it is increasingly evident in our contemporary era that tyranny — irrespective of the left or right — has a relatively short shelf life.
The seemingly invincible Soviet Union imploded some 70 years after its establishment. It could be said this number might well be the benchmark for the duration of any despotic regime, and Arab despots are rapidly approaching this number with Ben Ali’s fate exposing their shaky hold on power.
Tunisia’s popular uprising has been followed by news of similar unrest in Algeria, heightened concerns about anarchy from Libya’s strongman Moammar Gadhafi, protests and sectarian violence in Egypt, discontent in Jordan and tension with fear of sectarian violence erupting in Lebanon.