The Jasmine Revolution of Tunisia was the first in a series of democratic uprisings that extended to a number of North African and Middle Eastern countries, in what became known collectively as the Arab Spring. Earlier this month, Tunisia’s new unicameral parliament held its inaugural session at the nation’s capital. Although the landmark transition towards a new republic has been fraught, a novel, egalitarian constitution was adopted, while a majority of the other participating nations deteriorated into extremism.
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Everyone has been hearing about it lately. Look at any news site and it will be the top story if not many of the top five stories. Ever since Mohamed Al Bouazizi set himself on fire in December to protest Tunisia’s economic situation, revolution has been spreading across the Middle East. These conflicts are demonstrating how some of the world’s smallest countries can have great effects on the rest of the planet.
The protests in Egypt have taken over the media for the past few weeks. People have been treated with viewings of thousands in Tahrir Square calling for the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak. With Mr. Mubarak announcing that he is stepping down today, I’m not going to spend too much time talking about the implications of that particular uprising. Instead, I’d rather talk about the reasons behind the uprisings and some of the consequences that it may have in the Middle East.
When the global financial crisis hit, many nations saw a drastic decrease in their national wealth. While Tunisia suffered a slight decline in GDP by the end of 2008, its losses were not even close percentage-wise to those of other developed nations. The key to Tunisia’s economic resilience may be due to the fact that it is still undergoing a period of rapid economic growth and development. It may also be due to the fact that Tunisia’s economic backbone is based primarily on a labor-intensive workforce, and boasts a diversified economy with minimal exposure to the finance industry. Whatever the reason, Tunisia provides a strong example of what steps should be taken in order to get a country on the track to economic growth.