Five years after the uprising in Tunisian that kicked off the Arab Spring, Gilbert Achcar, in an interview with Jacobin magazine, assess what has been gained and lost in the Arab world since then. The full text can be read at the Jacobin website here, or check out an excerpt below:
Tunisia is no exception to the regional counterrevolutionary trend, I’m afraid. It is also experiencing a phase of counterrevolution, albeit a much milder one. Tunisia is witnessing a massive comeback of the old regime men.
The current Tunisian president himself — aside from being the oldest head of state on earth after Zimbabwe’s Mugabe and the Queen of England, with the paradox of being supposedly the outcome of a “youth revolution” — is very much a member of the old regime. The new dominant party in Tunisia is to a large extent — not exclusively but to a very large extent — a refurbished version of the old regime’s ruling party.
But unlike in Egypt, this is all taking place in a smoother and more peaceful way. Crucially here stands the fact that Tunisia is now ruled by a coalition between this renewed version of the old regime and El-Nahda, the Tunisian equivalent of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, although it did not have the same strength.
It’s a different scenario in which both wings of the counterrevolution are in coalition instead of fighting each other, and that’s indeed the scenario that the United States wishes to see extended to the whole region: a coalition of refurbished old regimes and the so-called moderate opposition represented by the Muslim Brotherhood’s branches at the regional level.
Image: Tahrir Square in May 2011. Via Jacobin.