Here is the YouTube video:
‘ AMY GOODMAN: And, of course, Ben Ali has taken refuge in Saudi Arabia. And if you heard Fares Mabrouk, they are calling for him to be extradited back to Tunisia to be tried.
JUAN COLE: Well, Saudi Arabia has long served as a kind of asylum or refuge for deposed politicians. Nawaz Sharif of Pakistan went there when he was overthrown by Pervez Musharraf. Idi Amin went there. This is nothing new.
One thing to keep in mind is that Tunisia is not an oil state. And it suffered from a kind of nepotism that was extreme. I mean, the U.S. leaked cables from WikiLeaks suggest that 50 percent of the economic elite of that country was related in one way or another to the president or to the first lady, Leila Ben Ali, and her Trabelsi clan. So, the combination of not having any extra resources to bribe people and buy them off and also of monopolizing the country’s economic resources in the hands of a few relatives was unique to Tunisia. I mean, there are similar situations, but the Tunisians took it to an extreme—
AMY GOODMAN: Yet, you say this is not—
JUAN COLE:—the Tunisian regime did.
AMY GOODMAN: You say this is not a WikiLeaks revolution, but a hunger revolution.
JUAN COLE: Well, it’s a revolution—you know, all revolutions are multiple revolutions happening at the same time. So there’s a strong element of economic protest. There’s a class element. Twenty percent of college graduates are unemployed. There’s extreme poverty in the rural areas. And the regime was doing things that interfered with economic development. They would use the banks to give out loans to their cronies, and then the cronies wouldn’t pay back the banks, so they were undermining the financial system. And that made it—and the extremeness of the dictatorship, the demands constantly for bribes, discouraged foreign investment. So the regime was all about itself. It was doing things that were counterproductive. And it injured the interests of many social groups—the college-educated, the workers. Now, the three ministers that pulled back out of the national unity government today were from the General Union of Tunisian Workers, which is an old, longstanding labor organization. So, it was a mass movement; it included people from all kinds of backgrounds. ‘
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