Reflections

Seven Years Later, Tunisia Still Stands Apart

Jan 14, 2018 | 14:53 GMT
Protesters demand changes to Tunisia's newly formed government Jan. 20, 2011, less than a week after mass demonstrations forced longtime President Zine el Abedine Ben Ali to step down from office.

Demonstrators place flowers in the barrels of soldiers guns as people take to the streets again to protest for changes in Tunisia's new government on January 20, 2011 in Tunis, Tunisia. Police fired warning shots into the air as demonstrators demanded that ministers linked to ousted president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali leave the government. Crowds gathered outside the party headquarters of the Constitutional Democratic Rally (RCD), the ruling party for decades, and cheers erupted as the party signs were torn down from the building. Tunisia's new interim government held its first cabinet meeting, nearly a week after President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali fled the country. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

(CHRISTOPHER FURLONG/Getty Images)

Wedged between Libya and Algeria, the North African republic of Tunisia is easy to overlook. But its small size, in terms of both area and population, and its low profile in regional affairs belie Tunisia's importance. As a Mediterranean country with deep economic ties to Europe and a stake in transnational security issues, Tunisia plays a critical role in the global order. And its significance in the Arab world is no less substantial. On Jan. 14, 2011, Tunisia became the first country to overthrow its government in what soon became known as the Arab Spring. Sunday marks the seventh anniversary of the momentous event, and as the date approached this year, Tunisians took to the streets once again, this time to protest austerity measures. The latest wave of unrest in the country -- hardly the first since 2011 -- is unlikely to upend Tunisia's fragile government. It does, however, underscore the...

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