Tunisia and Lybia, two different directions


When the governments in Tunisia and Libya fell, there was a great deal of optimism for the Arab Spring. Since then the two countries have gone in very different directions. Libya is becoming increasingly anarchic, while Tunisia is still maintaining its democratic path, albeit with some bumps along the road. Part of the reason is the nature of the pre-revolutionary political systems. Tunisia under Ben Ali’s rule had a little more civil society and politics were less radical. However in Libya, Qaddafi had reinforced tribal and regional divisions. Another reason is the way in which the transition took place. Tunisia’s transition was relatively non-violent, while Libya endured a brief civil war. The result in Libya was the creation of militias and military factions. They remain armed and do not want to give up their power.

Libya’s government holed up in a 1970s hotel: http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-29603393
Tunisia’s Ennahda and Ettakattol women MPs celebrate: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-25916831
Tunisian Islamists hire US lobby shop http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2014/09/tunisia-islamist-lobbyists-burston-marsteller-ennahda.html

Obama administration downgrades signature Mideast democracy program -al Monitor


“MEPI’s demise is indicative of a broader backing off from supporting civil society and falling back into the old pattern of not antagonizing old allies.”

There has always been an uneasy balance between democracy promotion and geo-politics in the US’s Middle East policy. When Mubarak fell from power, the US sided with the opposition, giving him a firm push. Now with geo-politics and the war on terror back on the agenda, they have no problem with Sisi, who is little more than Mubarak-light.