Across the Arab world, millions of people suffer the same poverty, unemployment, soaring prices and oppression that lie behind the Tunisian revolution.
Now they have seen a mass protest throw out a hated leader—and Arab rulers are panicking they will be next. The Syrian daily newspaper, Al-Watan, said the Tunisian revolt gave “a lesson that no Arab regime should ignore”.
Some regimes are rushing to offer reforms and concessions to try and head off protests—such as cutting prices and lowering taxes.
It hasn’t dampened resistance.
- Yemen – Thousands marched in the capital, Sanaa, on Sunday in solidarity with the Tunisian revolution. They urged Arabs to rise up and “wage a revolution against their scared and deceitful leaders.” One banner read: “Leave before you are toppled.”
- Algeria – several protesters have set themselves on fire in the street.
- Egypt – a man set himself alight near the parliament building on Monday of this week.
- Libya – Most Arab rulers haven’t dared voice support for Ben Ali—except Colonel Gaddafi. It didn’t stop Libyans taking to the streets in al-Bayda. Demonstrators attacked government offices in a protest over housing conditions.
- Jordan – thousands of people marched on Friday of last week against soaring prices, government corruption and unemployment. Some 3,000 marched on Sunday and held a sit-in outside parliament. They chanted, “Enough of lies, we lost our future” and “Listen to the voice of the people.”
And around 50 trade unionists held a sit-in outside the Tunisian embassy in Jordan’s capital Ammam on Saturday shouting, “Tunisia’s revolution will spread.”
Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu summed up a growing fear that Tunisia is just the beginning.
“The region in which we live is an unstable region,” he said.
“There can be changes in government that we do not foresee today but will take place tomorrow.”