Tunisia, Arabs, and Israel
Today’s Spiegel-online has a piece on the revolution in Tunisia and its possible consequences for other Arab countries and even for Israel, whose Vice Prime Minister Silvan Shalom is quoted as fearing that “Tunisia might ‘set a precedent that could be repeated in other countries, possibly affecting directly the stability of our system.’ If democratic governments take over Israel’s neighboring states, the vice prime minister said, the days of the Arab-Israeli security alliance will be over.”
A couple of key paragraphs from the piece:
The populations of these countries are young and unhappy. Indeed, 53.4 percent — or roughly 190 million out of a current population of 352 million Arabs — are younger than 24 years old, and nearly three-quarters of them are unemployed. In many cases, the education these young people receive doesn’t do them any good because there are no jobs in the fields they trained for. Many are 35 or even 40 before they can afford to marry. In essence, this is a violation of a basic human right perpetrated against millions in countries such as Egypt, where life expectancy is nine years less than it is in Germany, or in Yemen, where the figure is almost 15 years lower.
Governments in these countries, on the other hand, are corrupt and outdated. Indeed, before Ben Ali’s ouster, the leaders of North Africa’s five countries had enjoyed a combined total of 115 years in office. The countries’ youth ministers are generally old men.
In countries such as Algeria, Tunisia, Libya and Egypt, demographics, governments run by old men and widespread malaise are forming a dangerous mix. Although it is aware of the situation, the West continues to support the old rulers.