Tunisia’s new supervisory council should help calm the current volatility and re-focus attention on the challenge of bolstering the country’s enfeebled democratic institutions and managing the transition to elections.
The Obama administration’s senior official Middle East this week met with the interim government to discuss its plans for democratic reform.
As if on cue, Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi (left) expressed concern that “foreign interests” would exploit the Tunisian revolution.
“I fear for the Tunisian revolution because I see foreign intervention … It serves foreign interests,” said Gaddafi.
The news is also prompting skepticism about US and Western motives from closer to home.
“There is no doubt that the United States is trying to position itself very quickly on the good side,” said the Carnegie Endowment’s Marina Ottaway.
“They are positioning themselves to show that they do really support the democracy,” she said. “Keep in mind that the Obama administration has been criticized a lot for being lukewarm on democracy.”
The events in Tunisia and the demonstrations in Cairo should finally “lay waste to the mistaken notion that Arab and Muslims are politically passive and prone to authoritarianism,” writes Anwar Ibrahim.
Several years ago, he predicted that democracy would come to the Arab world sooner than most, despite what he calls the US “policy of selective ambivalence.”