Arab Press: Not just a bread riot
By Doaa El-Bey and Rasha Saad see the Tunisian experience and its repercussions continuing to top the local and regional agenda
Nearly a week after Tunisians ousted their president pundits are still pondering the future of the North African country.
In the Tunisian newspaper Al-Sabah Noureddin Ashour was pre-occupied with ways of getting "out of the bottleneck".
Ashour echoed his concerns over the daily scenes in Tunisia since the ousting of the Tunisian president Zein Al-Abidine Bin Ali on 14 January.
"Tunisians are demonstrating in support of the resignation of the interim government, calling for the ousting of ministers of the old guard. Tunisia's school teachers obeyed orders of their union to strike against a government order to reopen schools as part of an attempt to normalise daily life. This is the daily news in Tunisia," Ashour wrote.
Ashour calls on Tunisians to unite and to close the gap among themselves and politicians to stop settling scores against one another.
In the UAE daily Al-Ittihad, Al-Sayed Weld Abah wrote that Tunisia now has two options: adopting a revolution of political reform or risking a destructive popular revolution.
In 'Revolution or reform' Weld Abah explained that in following the first option something of a compromise should be made between "a total rejection of the presence of the old guard of the ousted regime and preserving the entity of the state and its institutions with all its unpleasant settlements."
The second option, according to Weld Abah, would adopt the demolishing of the existing system and the restructuring of institutions.
Weld Abah explained that "similar successful attempts at democratic transformation that took place in Europe during the 70s and 90s as well as in Latin America shows that the price of aspired change has always been through accepting transitional periods and partial settlements."
According to Weld Abah, this does not mean that Tunisia should keep symbols of the ousted regime but warned that "sometimes revolutionary figures can produce their own kind of tyranny."
Weld Abah added that while it is possible that supporters of the ousted regime will regroup, a major danger facing revolutions lies in rejection and total rupture. "Hence the [people who had the] courage which ended the era of tyranny will fail to show the wisdom of building settled and successful institutions."
Abdel-Bari Atwan wrote in the London-based daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi that one phenomenon emanating in the Arab world in response to the Tunisian revolution is that Arab governments have hastened to reduce the price of foodstuffs and other basic commodities in an attempt to dissipate popular rage and prevent the eruption of protests in the streets of their cities and capitals.
According to Atwan, this was not the appropriate solution to which the Arab man in the street aspires.
Atwan explained that while people want bread and other essential commodities at reasonable prices, above all they want sagacious governance, political freedoms, social reforms, as well as carefully drawn up development plans providing jobs for youth.
"The Tunisian people have won the admiration of the entire Arab world, creating the most momentous precedent by changing a dictatorial regime in a peaceful and civilised manner. But they did not take to the streets only in search of bread. They took to the streets to restore their dignity and genuine independence," Atwan wrote.
Atwan maintained that it is no exaggeration to say that the standard of living in Tunisia is better than that in its oil-producing neighbours.
"The Tunisian people wanted to end the one- party control of power and to establish true democracy based on political plurality and on the widening of the scope of participation in governance and in the decision-making process," Atwan argued.
In the Saudi-sponsored daily Asharq Al-Awsat Abdel-Rahman Al-Rashid wrote that the problem facing an Arab president in power is that he knows that the only way he can leave power peacefully is by going to his grave.
Al-Rashid explained that historically speaking, a leader knows after his election, or coup, that he will not leave his presidential palace on the red carpet he entered on.
"The story of Tunisia's ousted leader Bin Ali is none other than the traditional outcome of all those who have left the presidency alive," Al-Rashid wrote.
"Without doubt, it is these leaders who are responsible for their tragic ends which they willingly drove themselves to while bringing chaos to their people. They were preoccupied with cementing their rule rather than establishing a regime in which power could be transferred peacefully," Al-Rashid added.
In the London-based daily Al-Hayat, Elias Harfoush wrote that the upcoming Tunisian stage seems to be open to great mystery following the optimism which prevailed during its first days.
In 'The threatened Jasmine' Harfoush wrote, "The Jasmine Revolution is standing at a crossroads," carefully deciding its next steps to figure out the direction it will take and the real identity it will bear.
"Was it a mere popular uprising to topple Zein Al-Abidine Bin Ali and the group of people who were closely connected to him, his contemptible wife Leila Trabelsi and her family members? Or is it a revolution with long-term goals aimed at eliminating all that which was represented by the previous regime, its president, government, party and institutions, so that Tunisia can be led in a new direction?" asked Harfoush.