Two years ago Tunisia was just one of North African/Middle East dictatorships in which basic human rights were less valued than those of animals. As we all know today everything started with Mohamed Bouazizi and his self-immolation in January of 2011 causing at the end fall of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali regime. Protest against dictators spread around neighbouring countries and helping to depose leaders as Muhammad Hosni Mubarak, Muammar Al-Gaddafi, while currently Syrian people are fighting civil war to end several decades long Assad family regime. Since Egypt is one of the key countries in the region mine focus is set on it, international institutions and governments including US government are aiding current/past leaderships with billions of dollars but there’s no clear winner or settlement of deep resentment between islamist and secular side. On the opposite side sits Tunisia with brand new government which tries to build new democratic society and to change the stream of life into the better future.
Tunisia’s interim institutions enjoyed very close and productive intimacy with international institutions in years since they deposed Ben Ali opening the doors much needed to start accomplishing duties delegated to them. Since then and according to many reports Tunisian political leadership approached the World Bank, African Development Bank, and European Union. Tunisian leadership requested loans and cash support to the state budget, plus policy advice, in return for steady progress on reform agenda which was mutually agreed and developed. Over the last two years and according to the Christian Science Monitor report Tunisia received $2.5 billion. Tunisia’s advantage was hidden in the fact that interim leadership inherited decent cash reserves from Ben Ali government, but as many of new leaders were not experienced in governing they needed experience and advice how to proceed.
Today Tunisian government walks on strong path towards better society with more openness towards civic society engagement. Many civic society groups were funded by the same donors which funded new interim government, also helping to draw new laws on civic society rights and freedoms.
“Civil society is a counterweight [to the state]. Who can defend freedom of expression, or and independent judiciary? Civil society”, said to the CSM an European diplomat who spoke on condition of anonymity.
This is clearly not a case in other neighbouring countries which joined Tunisia in 2011 to fight dictatorship regimes. Especially is not a case in Egypt were journalists, doctors, filmmakers are constantly arrested and incarcerated for months without a trial or ability to communicate with lawyers or families. Recently Canada fought diplomatic battle with Egypt requesting release of two Canadian citizens, Tarek Loubani and John Greyson, who spent 50 days in an Cairo prison.
Egypt as the regional leader clearly hit the wall and slowly goes back to the old times and ways of governing. Meanwhile Tunisia become an open society, although citizens are not yet absolutely satisfied with a state of democracy [some old laws still used], government and opposition are not friendly to each other but there are sign of improvement. It seems that their way of moving forward will be found in compromise or limited cooperation, while civic society will keep them in check. One pert of the revolution is still ahead of Tunisia, that’s economic revolution and development through it. With where Tunisia sits today and based on interim government behaviour we can say that Tunisia is the best example and model for Northern Africa/Middle East countries how to move forward in post-dictatorship era. Egypt should look there for guidance.