Democracy does not seem to be closer in Tunisia today than it was four months ago, since the beginning of the so-called “Jasmine Revolution.” Instead it seems that Tunisia is in a stalemate, caught in moving sands, unable to stabilize and consolidate the domestic political scene.

Rather than advancing, it looks as if Tunisia has made a great leap backwards: Democracy has not eased the economic situation. The majority of the 350,000 employees in the tourism sector are unemployed, 25% of the main hotels are in a state of bankruptcy, while 80% of them are still closed. TunisAir, whose flights were cancelled, is being paid by the government for the lost seats in order to survive the absence of tourists. Supermarkets are still attacked and looted. Anarchy is such that the transitional government has reinstalled the notorious night curfew in Tunis as if former President Ben-Ali was still in power. Tanks and armored cars are still on the streets of Tunis.  Moreover,Tunisia is in an open conflict with Libya, which has tried several times to attack Tunisian units deployed on their common borders. Last but not least,Tunisia has had three transitional governments since the Jasmine revolution and instability still prevails.

 

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The Rafah border crossing connecting Gaza with Egypt was officially opened on May 28, 2011, by the Egyptian authorities and the Hamas government. The Egyptian news agency MENA reported that the crossing will be open six days a week, excluding Fridays and holidays, as part of Egyptian efforts to bring the internal Palestinian split to an end and to promote national reconciliation.

Gaza residents will now enjoy simplified procedures while crossing the border in both directions at Rafah and at all other border crossings in Egypt. Palestinians are no longer required to apply for a visa to enter Egypt, although a visa valid for at least six months is needed if a Palestinian is travelling through Egypt to a third country. According to the Egyptian announcement, the new procedures will apply to men under the age of 18 or above 40, students at Egyptian universities, patients who come for medical treatment, and children joining their parents.

 

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The reality that confronts Lebanon today raises hidden fears of Shi’ite domination and the transformation of Lebanon into a radical factor in the Middle East, aligned with Syria and Iran. That explains why Mikati sought in an interview with AFP to reassure the world and the Lebanese that “the fact that Hizbullah and its allies have 18 seats in the 30-member cabinet does not mean that the country will join the radical camp in terms of its relations with the international community.” Mikati was also quick to reiterate that his government will respect Lebanon’s international commitments, a reference to the International Tribunal investigation over the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, whose conclusions might point at some Syrian-backed Hizbullah operatives who were involved in the assassination plot.

 

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