Keep your eye on this one!
For several decades, in most Arab countries, Islamists have been seen as the main alternative to existing regimes. Which suits the regimes fine because it scares the West into supporting them. But it seems that in Tunisia, the organisational strength of the uprising came mainly from the country's biggest trade union, the UGTT, with students and thousands of disaffected citizens also joining in. The rhetoric was broadly leftist rather than religious.
Will Tunisia provide for the Middle East a secular alternative to the Iranian revolution?
Links : The Guardian's Brian Whitaker.
George Joffe on newleftproject.org
And here's a Democracy Now video, with the Middle East analyst Juan Cole anchored by Amy Goodman. He says what makes Tunisia distinctive is that it was spearheaded by trade unionists, internet activists, and rural workers. “A revolution made by workers”.