Laetitia et Amarum

Time spins! After an uprising which threw 23 years under the Ben Ali regime, it took only 2 months to feel that those decades took place in a distant past. Tunisia faces a challenging transition to a democracy and global economy, but Today is about Libya.

The Libyan transition has become more difficult in the last week, and the Gaddafi’s seem to have put hands together to face the uprising and control the oil, so they keep their dad’s war machine going. And so he aimed straight to oil reserves and refineries. The Libyan people were faster to understand the importance of oil, but forces pro-Gaddafi were merciless in their counter attack and were able to recapture, Azawya, Misrata, Ras Lanuf, Brega, and now are heading Ajdabiya. Yet, Benghazi is the stronghold of the Libyan people and will not be given up easily. Gaddafi is also not likely to win an urban war, unless he destroys the city of 670,000 people. Postal! This comes bitter, and announces, not the end of Libyan uprising, but a Libyan civil war. How long? damage? deaths? All will be discovered in few years. For me the question is: why does it take so long to impose a No fly zone over Libya?

The answer may come from Tunis, as secretary of state Hillary Clinton comes in a 24 hours visit on Wednesday. Officially to congratulate the people of Tunisia, but certainly to check up the relationship between the US and Tunisia in this new era. Tunis may keep the sec of state on hold and give her an answer on July 24th after the election of the constitutional committee . This time, it won’t be a blank check behind closed doors, as politics changed recently in the Kasbah. In the meanwhile, The cheikh of the Kasbah, Beji Caid Sebsi put himself under a hectic travel schedule, as he spends Tuesday and Wednesday in Algiers and Rabat to meet Bouteflika and Mohamed VI. For me the question is: Was it that important?

Thursday will certainly be a long day!

Laetitia et Amarum

Taste the taste of freedom

Things are quite interesting here, after years of monotony, Tunis seems like Beirut.

Lots of people marched to Tunis during the last weekend. They spent 4 night in the Kasbah in front of the PM office. I spent several days there, and witnessed solidarity between people who came from different regions and found themselves united in fighting the 1st coalition government. I also found myself caught in confrontations between protestors and police. There are rumours of people infiltrating the crowds and provoking these fights between the two groups. Yet more interesting, the Tunisian media was accused of taking a one-sided view that supported the coalition government. I have to admit that there a lot of signs showing the government using Ben Ali regimes tactics.
The 2nd coalition government was announced on Thursday night, a lot of people were relieved. Still, protestors were still in the Kasbah asking for the resignation of Ghannoushi.
In order to stop the protests and have protestors go back to their cities the government was violent, beating up people and throwing pure gas bombs at people. I hear seven people were dead just on Friday. I also hear thefire shots were heard in Kebili, in the south of Tunisia. I have fears the Tunisian police is not clean from its Ben Ali methods yet.
In the meanwhile, there is a lot of activity among political parties. The PDP already organized a meeting in front of 500 hundred people, with the rapper El General, who was jailed for three days and liberated on Jan 23rd. in the opening. El General was followed by a speech of Maya Jribi and Ahmed Nejib Chebbi.
The other story is the arrival today of Rached Ghannoushi. The airport was sacked with people coming, for the most part to support the returning exiled Ennahdha leader.
On the news, Tunis was topped by the revolution underway in Egypt. A revolution that Tunisians relate to you, and suppor
Taste the taste of freedom

Tweeting your revolution


wikileaks played a major role in fueling the anger / determination of Tunisians. However, the wikileaks reports only put further light on what we already knew. They confirmed our doubts and detailed the different events.
Twitter and Facebook played a very important role in our revolution, and I am confident that if we were not using social media we wouldn’t have accomplished our goals.
Social media empowered our communication infrastructure.
It countered the traditional media, the propaganda machine of our government. It allowed us to detect patterns that one would not notice if left alone, such as noticing that all the presidential police cars are rented (rented cars in tunisia have blue license plates). Traditional media fostered crowdwisdom, by sharing thoughts, feedbacks, and opinions. And finally on the battle field, we even used in the final hours of our government to share snipers’ positions. Then, the final demonstration was an event on facebook that everybody shared.
And now we are using to find the militias, and share their positions. There are volunteers working on developing web 2.0 applications to place events on maps.
More importantly, we knew how to tweet and we were hooked to facebook. Something, that our ennemy, including the state run media, and the brutal yet illiterate “intelligence”.
Other governments in the region are as blind as the ben ali’s regime. I hear Morocco blocked and contained a demonstration in front of the Tunisian embassy in Rabat, Syria is censoring what is happening in Tunisia. They didn’t understand that we do not demonstrate and we are not going to demonstrate in the streets until we know that we reached the critical mass, in the meanwhile we will be tweeting our revolution. And they can not beat us in our territory.


Tweeting your revolution

Tunisia today

Quick report on the situation:
4 prisons are empty and all prisoners escaped.
Militias coordinated by old security members are involved in looting, riots, and criminal activities
Army is taking over the security issues in the country.
The most “influential” tunisian corrupted business men related to Ben Ali are being caught in Tunisia, particularly in the Libyan Tunisian border.
New coalition government:
Chief of parliament is temporary president
Old PM is appointed to form a coalition governement.
People are happy about the changes even though the situation is relatively chaotic. We are proud because we obtained our freedom ourselves.


Tunisia today

Freedom day

Things are happening down here! An intense and agitated afternoon where rumours of pillage and attacks spread all over the place (As I promised I will write an article that showcases police role in this violence) Then it ended with Ben Ali’s speech:

Which at some point (5mn58) looked like this:


Ben Ali
Speech of Ben Ali

Very promising! huh?

The deaths and violence did not stop yesterday, and we saw, once again, the government’s propaganda machine at works: TV7.

We are not sure how things are going to be today.

But we are all determined. We will be free!


Freedom day

Violence unleashed

I woke up anxious and tormented and walked straight to the streets to see the remainings of last night’s battle. But, when i arrived to Cité Ettadhamen, Mnihla in the western suburb of Tunis. I wished I was blind, but the overwhelming smell of burining plastic would still describe the intensity of the violence that invaded this large underprivilidged neighbourhood.

Violence was unleashed and flames invaded most banks, a few cars, a bus, two pharmacies, a bakery, an electronics store, and several other shops, the city hall, the municipality, and the post office of Mnihla. Hundreds of people were shocked, they stood along the way in groups trying to know what happened last night. One could see that there was some pillage, and the shops that rioters couldn’t open were tagged. They wrote on them the famous slogan A.C.A.B meaning All Cops Are Bastards. Surprisingly, there wasn’t a single cop in the streets today. I mean no single cop, and that is very strange in Tunis.

What happened last night?

Yesterday cops were surrounding Cité Ettadhamen and no one could either enter or leave. It seemed like cops were preparing to “clean” the area and take control of it, after hundreds of people engaged in riots during the afternoon. I won’t be able to tell you much but it seems that troops with guns and bullets engaged with unarmed groups of kids. This morning the kids were still there, while the cops disappeared leaving some souvenirs of their passage. This picture may give an idea about the outcome of the battle.

where's the cop
Kids vs Cops


I decided to leave the scene, even though the scene wouldn’t leave my head. I headed to the University of Law of Tunis. University professors were protesting because of the murder of Hatem Bettaher, who was shot in the head by police forces yesterday. The professors were signing a petition and calling for a general strike tomorrow in Tunis, along with other worker’s union. They had clear demands, even though they were not acting under any recognized structure. Their demands included the liberation of all people detained in the last protests and the dilution of the house of representatives, and the counselors. I wasn’t able to obtain the full report but they will be announcing soon during the day.

The other news of the day is the pseudo press conference organized by Sakher El Materi, the son in law of the president and the strangely young and succesfull business man. He announced that he didn’t run away from Tunisia, but that he was just gave a ride to his wife who went to Canada. He also had an interesting discussion with @Emnabenjemaa who spoke openly with him about the recent controversies around his person. He certainly tried to negate the corruption accusations, but that didn’t seem to affect the people’s opinion.


Violence unleashed