Running battles amid extreme violence from police. Protesters being chased on to rooftops. This is turning very, very bad. Gunshots are now ringing around us and in the other sidestreets around interior ministry.Guardian reporter Angelique Chrisafis • Tweeting about the scene in Tunisia, where violent protests have led to the country’s dissolution. At least 23 people have died, many shot by police, since the protests began a month ago. Another 12 died in Tunis and Ras Jebel last night alone. The president, Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, promised that police would leave protesters alone, and that he would resign office by 2014. “I understand the Tunisians, I understand their demands,” he said. “I am sad about what is happening now after 50 years of service to the country, military service, all the different posts, 23 years of the presidency.” He’s been in office since 1987. Protesters, upset about the poor economic situation, want him to step down immediately. source (via • follow)
An act of self immolation and the ‘Anonymous’ cyber collective appears to have combined with mass Tunisian revulsion to bring down the Tunisian governement. Analysis is incomplete, however, the Web driven phenomenon behind the abortive green revolution in Iran has manifested itself again in spectacular fashion.
Mainline media appeared caught off guard by story that has been building for weeks. In addition to our own attempts to cover the salient aspects, Andy Carvin has created an excellent storify archive of ongoing events reaching back into December.
What’s next? Eyes inevitably turn to the street in other Arab countries, where corrupt and anti-democratic regimes sit atop seething discontent. Will Egypt and Mubarak soon feel the tremors of this modern volcanism? Whatever the case, the ubiquity of the internet has shaken the global order - and political glaciers have begun to melt.
A good roundup of events from the excellent anonymously-produced Zeitvox (not by Anonymous, however), which is right – the situation caught many in the mainstream media off-guard. What seems like a sudden event had actually been building for a while.
» How does this matter? We’re at a record with food prices, making it hard for people to live in third-world countries. With quick growth in countries such as China, reserves are becoming harder to keep, and the supplies of basic crops like corn and soybeans (which also get used in vast quantities for such things as ethanol) are down significantly. And since Americans tend to eat more processed foods (which use fewer raw materials), price increases aren’t felt in the developed world as much as they are in the third world. ”In this country, a much higher proportion of your food dollar is spent on processing, advertising and promotion and marketing,” said Global Insight economist Tom Jackson. “There’s not really that margin built in between the farmer and the consumer in the developing countries.”
And I urge all the sons and daughters of Tunisia, from all political and intellectual backgrounds, of every affiliation, to adhere to the true national spirit. So we can safeguard our nation that is so dear to us, in order to overcome this difficult phase and return security.Tunisian Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi • While informing Tunisian residents that he’ll be taking over presidential duties from troubled President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, who has ruled since 1987 and just dissolved the government. There are reports that Ben Ali has straight-up left the country. source (via • follow)
(Thanks swaggalikemoi for the tip)
It makes me sad because [Ben Ali and his family] stole all the money to build this house from the people of Tunisia. He lives in luxury and the people do not have money for food.Tunisian citizen Priska Nufar • Expressing anger while looking through the former Tunisian president’s luxurious home recently. The level of wealth and riches that Zine al-Abedine Ben Ali are only becoming fully clear as the country goes completely into turmoil, with images of these riches getting shown on TV and in other mediums. Some of his family’s properties have been destroyed and looted in the wake of the unrest, while many wait for the next step Tunisia takes as a country. Hopefully their next leader will be willing to share. source (via • follow)
Corruption? Unemployment? A restricted press? Not according to Colonel Qaddafi. The Libyan leader, who has held power for over forty years, weighed in on Tunisia’s collapse, blaming “WikiLeaks which publishes information written by lying ambassadors in order to create chaos.” As The New York Times’ Robert Mackey observes, this may be a reiteration of a conspiratorial belief birthed from Iran’s leadership; that Wikileaks is acting as a propaganda arm of the United States, strategically leaking false cables to American benefit. But seriously, Julian Assange as a government shill? You’ve got a long road to hoe, Muammar.