Unintended Consequences

Photo: AP Photo/Daniele La Monaca
A would-be immigrant is escorted to register at a re-opened detention center on the island of Lampedusa, Italy, Sunday, Feb. 13, 2011.

via Italy Seeks to Deploy Police in Tunisia to Stem Tide of Refugees | Europe | English.

Tunisia’s interim cabinet says it plans to discuss a response to the thousands of people who have fled the country and landed on the tiny Italian island of Lampedusa during the past few days.

After the revolution, thousands of Tunisians have fled the country, many taking small boats across the Mediterranean to the Italian outpost of Lampedusa.

A spokeswoman in Italy for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees says some Tunisians are fleeing because they are worried about violence and the instability in their homeland while others who were close to the former president are seeking protection.

Most of the refugees have been transported to the Italian mainland for processing;  however, more continue to arrive on the island.

[Italy’s Interior Minister] Maroni says he asked the European Union for emergency to intervene because “there is an institutional and political earthquake” underway in Tunisia that could “devastate” Europe.

Egypt Protests Continue

via Egypt Protests Continue as Government Resigns – NYTimes.com.

CAIRO — Tens of thousands of protesters once again defied President Hosni Mubarak’s curfews and threats of a harsh crackdown, taking to the streets for a fifth day as the Egyptian leader struggled to hold on to the power that he has maintained in nearly 30 years of authoritarian rule.

Living on less than $2 per day?  Welcome to Egypt.  Can’t find a job?  Welcome to Egypt.

… soldiers invited protesters to climb aboard their armored personnel carriers to have their pictures taken, and in Alexandria, demonstrators took tea to troops.

If the army joins the protesters fighting security police, Mubarak is toast.  How far will this spread?  Yemen and Jordan are seeing the same sort of protest, and surely all the autocratic governments in the region are fearful of what started in Tunisia.

The Egyptian government also attempted to thwart protesters using cell phones and social networking websites to organize:

Although cellphone service was restored in much of the country, the government appeared to still be blocking or restricting the Internet in an attempt to keep protesters from using social networking sites to communicate. The leaders of the early demonstrators, many of them young, used those sites to organize their protests, successfully evading Mr. Mubarak’s efficient security apparatus, which has for years co-opted opposition leaders it could and jailed those it could not.

There is also anger at the US:

“We are very disillusioned by President Obama’s speech,” said Muhammad Shafai, 35, a lawyer, who called for Mr. Obama to distance himself from Mr. Mubarak.

In his speech Friday night, Mr. Obama took on a stern tone, saying he had personally told Mr. Mubarak that he needed to listen to his people’s demands for a “better democracy.” But the United States has counted on Egypt for help in the region, whether supporting American moves in Iraq or trying to defuse tensions between the Palestinians and Israelis.

Will this end the same way as last year’s revolt in Iran?  We’ll have to wait and see…


half the population is under 25
GNI per capita $1800

Prime Minister Claims Power in Tunisia as President Flees – NYTimes.com



via Prime Minister Claims Power in Tunisia as President Flees – NYTimes.com.

TUNIS — President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali of Tunisia has left the country amid growing chaos in the streets, French diplomats say, and the prime minister went on state television Friday night to say he is in charge.

The rioter have accomplished their goal – the president-for-life has fled the country. 

The anti-government protests began a month ago when a college- educated street vendor burned himself to death in protest of his dismal prospects amid Tunisia’s poverty.

They quickly escalated into calls for political reform in this close ally of the US. 

The crowd was notably middle-class, including young doctors and lawyers and other professionals. Some identified themselves as the “Bourguiba generation” — young people who benefited from free higher education and other social welfare policies instituted under Tunisia’s first post-independence president, Habib Bourguiba.

The French government and the United States State Department cautioned against all non-essential travel to the North African country.

  • Archives