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As Tunisia Rebuilds, Hope is Ever-Present

As a civil war rages next door and as protests and clashes in Bahrain and Yemen gobble up media attention, news from Tunisia – the originator of the Middle East reform movements – has been scarce of late. But this article from The Washington Post sheds some light on what life on the ground is like in a post-revolutionary state. It seems to be a strange mixture of fear, giddiness, anxiety and euphoria as citizens try to determine what shape the country will take now that the regime of strongman Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali is over. But whatever the emotion, there appears to be a steely resolve to ensure reform efforts are no pyrrhic victory. Perhaps the most illuminating comment in this respect is this:

After watching their uprising spark similar ones across North Africa and the Middle East, many Tunisians want to make their post-revolution restructuring just as exemplary


Turkey and the U.S. – Headed for a Split?

In yesterday’s post I used a line Robert Baer wrote to describe Iran: a place of many paradoxes. The same can be said of Turkey, I suppose, on the basis of this article in The Washington Post by Jackson Diehl. Turkey is a big, fractious democracy – secular in name but tentatively imbracing Islam nonethless. It’s a fast developing country, a potential regional power in the 21st century with ambitions of restoring past glories – but one that currently recognizes Israel and which has reached out to international pariahs like Iran and Syria.  Although unstated in the article, my impression is of an American-Turkish relationship painfully strained despite mutual interests and values. Adding fuel to the fire is the Turkish people’s absymally low favorability of America – almost as low as Pakistan’s (under 20% of the population) according to the latest public opinion poll conducted by the Pew Global Attitudes Project. I’m no Turkey expert but I can’t help but feeling all of this is such a shame. When I lived in London, one of my best friends, Ali, was Turkish. I remeber going over to the Turkish embassy in London with him to watch Turkish soccer games. Everyone there was so friendly and welcoming. On a personal level, there was a lot of common ground there between American and Turk. I hope those shared values can ease the strained relations between the two nations moving forward.