The (Cleveland) Plain-Dealer, Oct. 15
It’s easy to be cynical about the short-lived Arab Spring, that period about five years ago when popular protests took hold in a number of Middle Eastern and North African nations and when some of those countries threw off the yoke of their authoritarian leaders only to slip into a period of violence, uncertainty, repression and even anarchy.
Tunisians were the first to oust their longtime dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, in January 2011 – and Tunisia has become the only country to emerge with a democracy, albeit a troubled one. The Associated Press reports that many young Tunisian men have become Islamic State recruits.
That’s why the hard, steady work on behalf of democracy by the Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet richly deserved this year’s Nobel Peace Prize.
In November, President Beji Caid Essebsi became the first democratically elected president since Tunisia’s revolution began …
Of course, Tunisia had a couple of advantages. It is not riven by ethnic or sectarian disputes, its army had been kept weak by the dictatorship, and many groups were willing to talk instead of fight.
However, none of this is easy. Dozens of tourists were killed in separate terrorist attacks earlier this year. The terror threat remains high, but the Tunisian Quartet remains a role model for peace, civil society and good governance. More are needed.