Wave of Protests Continues Across North Africa and the Middle East

Morgan Lorraine Roach /

In January, Heritage Senior Research Fellow Jim Phillips predicted that Tunisia’s Jasmine Revolution would spark uprisings throughout the Arab world. Four months later, North Africa and the Middle East are experiencing substantial governmental transformations, and there is no end in sight.


As the first leadership casualty of the “Arab Spring,” Tunisia’s former president, Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, is now wanted by Tunisian authorities on 18 counts of criminal activity. Interpol has also issued an arrest warrant for the former president now seeking refuge in Saudi Arabia.

Despite setting elections for the constituent assembly on July 24, the interim government is now backtracking. Yesterday, Prime Minister Beji Caid Essebsi warned that “logistical hitches” could prevent the elections from taking place. Many also fear the return of the former regime, as former interior minister Farhat Rajhi claimed that Ben Ali loyalists were planning a coup in the wake of upcoming elections. Renewed protests have taken place, prompting Tunisian authorities to institute a curfew to stem violence.


Since former President Hosni Mubarak fled to Sharm el-Sheikh in February, the military has assumed power until elections next fall. While the Muslim Brotherhood, as the largest and most well-organized political force, is expected to make considerable gains in the parliamentary elections in September, it claims that it will not run a presidential candidate in elections later this year. (more…)