News / Africa

Analyst Says Tunisia Crisis Points Out Need for North Africa Reforms

Steven Cook of the Council on Foreign Relations says he's not sure if North Africa can learn from Tunisia given its reliance on coercion

Analyst Says Tunisia Crisis Points Out Need for North Africa Reforms
Analyst Says Tunisia Crisis Points Out Need for North Africa Reforms

Multimedia

Audio
  • Steven Cook of Council on Foreign Relations spoke with Butty

James Butty

A U.S.-based expert told VOA the Obama Administration must approach the situation in Tunisia with caution.

This comes as the Washington Post, in its Sunday editorial, criticized the Administration for downplaying reforms in the Arab world and giving muted support for democracy and human rights.

The paper said the Tunisia crisis offers urgent lessons for the U.S. administration.

Steven Cook, senior fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at the Washington-based Council on Foreign Relations, said it is up to the citizens of Tunisia to determine where their country goes next.

He said other North African countries should draw lessons from the Tunisian uprising and begin to undertake genuine reforms.

“Nobody would have expected President (Zine El Abidine) Ben Ali, who presided over one of the worst police states in North Africa for the better part of the last quarter century, to have been driven from power so quickly. In terms of how this will affect other countries in North Africa, certainly, I think, the lesson that they should draw from this is that they need to get out ahead of these problems and undertake some genuine reforms,” he said.

New Tunisian President Foued Mebazaa swears-in at the Tunisian Asssembly in Tunis, 15 Jan 2011
New Tunisian President Foued Mebazaa swears-in at the Tunisian Asssembly in Tunis, 15 Jan 2011

But, Cook said whether North African leaders will draw the same lessons from the Tunisian crisis remains to be seen considering that those leaders have consistently relied on coercion and violence to maintain themselves in power.

Cook said he was not surprised by Sunday’s Washington Post editorial criticizing the Obama Administration for downplaying reforms in the Arab world and giving muted support for democracy and human rights.

“It’s not surprising to me that ‘The Washington Post’ would editorialize along those lines. But, I think caution is the watchword. I think the administration needs to be smart. Certainly, the people of Tunisia, who have spoken want theirs to be a more democratic, open government, and I think the Obama Administration took a very good step by issuing a strong statement. Now the question is determining who’s actually in charge and who the United States can work with, and what policy levers the United States can pull in order to nudge the new Tunisian leaders in the direction of a more democratic future,” Cook said.

In the final analysis, Cook said it would up to Tunisians to determine where their country goes next, and that there is very little the United States can do.

Tunisia’s constitution calls for new presidential elections in 60 days. Cook said everything should be done to organize elections once the violence can be brought under control.

“Certainly, holding to the constitution and organizing the election is, I think, very important and, to the extent that they can do it, I think they should do it. The question is right now stability in Tunisia. There has been continuing violence and protests and the remnant of Ben Ali’s leadership is attempting to sow chaos in the country. But, everything should be done to organize elections and to maintain stability in the country so those elections can take place freely and fairly without the threat of violence,” Cook said.

NEW: Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter
and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

Video Miami Cubans Divided on New US Policy

While older, more conservative Cuban Americans have promoted anti-Castro political movement for years, younger generations say economically, it is time for change More

2014 Sees Dramatic Uptick in Boko Haram Abductions

Militants suspected in latest mass kidnapping of over 100 people in Gumsuri, Nigeria on Sunday More

Video Cuba Deal Is Major Victory for Pope

Role of Francis hailed throughout US, Latin America - though some Cuban-American Catholics have mixed feelings More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid