While Americans are distracted by a possible war in Ukraine, the Olympics in China, and the COVID-19 pandemic, the last hope for a successful Arab democracy in the Middle East is fading away, says Josh Rogen, columnist for the Washington Post.
Rogen explained – in article For him – the only real success story of the Arab Spring, the Tunisian experiment, is slipping into the authoritarian abyss, and the United States is nowhere to be seen.
He added that last July, when Tunisian President Kais Saied dismissed the prime minister, dissolved parliament and directed the military at his political opponents, the international community at large expressed cautious optimism that the Tunisian president would restore the power he had just wrested. Despite warnings that he was carrying out a “coup”, the administration of US President Joe Biden decided to give him the benefit of the doubt.
Said strengthened his grip on Tunisia
After nearly 7 months – according to the writer – there is no longer a place for such doubts; Said effectively consolidated his grip on the full power of the government and dismantled the Tunisian regime.
Rogaine quoted some US lawmakers – who support imposing sanctions on Tunisian officials who participate in the crackdowns in Tunisia – as saying that the Biden administration does not take this issue seriously, and in some cases even praised Saeed, despite Washington’s claim that it supports a pro-Agenda for democracy.
The writer criticized the argument that sanctions against the Kais Saied regime might turn Said more against Washington rather than persuading him to abandon his march toward authoritarianism, saying that the US government’s response is not only about Tunisia.
Doubts about the seriousness of the Biden administration
He added that there is a growing belief across the Middle East that the Biden administration was not serious when it took office and promised to put human rights at the center of its foreign policy agenda, nor was it serious in its preaching about the struggle between democracies and authoritarian regimes.
To a large extent, Rogen said, the Biden team has looked the other way as Arab autocrats ignore all international concerns about their human rights abuses.
He concluded by saying that Tunisia is an important security partner, but history shows that in the long run, authoritarian dictatorships breed more instability and extremism, and thus make security partners much worse than chaotic democracies.