Weekend Roundup: Why the Arab Spring is Still Flowering in Tunisia


Nathan Gardels is the editor-in-chief of Noema Magazine.

The savagery of ISIS, the slaughterhouse of Syria’s civil war, the marauding militias in Libya and the restored autocracy in Egypt have devoured the hopes of the Facebook generation that spawned the Arab Spring. In Tunisia alone the spirit of the Jasmine Revolution still flowers.

While the character of Tunisian society and culture has much to celebrate with its success, including just-completed peaceful elections that favored the main secular party, there is another factor: the absence of outside intervention, particularly from the West.

In The WorldPost this week Rafik Abdessalem, Tunisia’s former foreign minister, explains why despotism will never return to his country. Soumaya Ghannoushi argues that the many years that activists from the moderate Islamist Ennahdha Party spent in exile abroad taught them “the art of compromise and consensus, which may be the hallmark of the nascent Tunisian political model.” Jonathan Labin, head of Middle East, Africa and Pakistan for Facebook, chronicles how the same social media that fomented political upheaval is now connecting young people in the region to jobs.

From Istanbul, WorldPost Middle East Correspondent Sophia Jones reports on violent student clashes at Istanbul University, where the war in neighboring Syria has begun to make its way into the classroom. She also reports on how the recent attack on security personnel in the Sinai has prompted a stronger crackdown on dissent in Egypt.

In another seminal election this week, Ukrainian voters tilted decisively westward. The French philosopher and champion of the Maidan movement, Bernard-Henri Lévy, discusses the significance of standing behind Kiev as it faces down Vladimir Putin. Writing from Moscow, Georgy Bovt sees disaster ahead as Russian and Western elites are no longer able to understand or even listen to each other. Writing from Tbilisi, Ghia Nodia bluntly opines that “the West can offer no conceivable partnership terms that Putin would accept.” As if to prove him right, Vladimir Putin lashed out at the Valdai International Discussion Club in Sochi, blaming the West for instigating world disorder.

Writing from Moscow, Elena Chernenko, Vladislav Novyii and Ivan Safronov report that when Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi meet in Beijing next week at the APEC summit, they will likely sign a “digital non-aggression pact” that underscores how they see eye to eye on cybersecurity.

From Mexico City, Homero Aridjis expresses the exploding outrage across the country at the spiraling violence wrought by political corruption and drug cartels, most recently in the state of Guerrero where 43 students are missing and presumed dead.

In this week’s Forgotten Fact series, The WorldPost turns to Mexico and breaks down some of the key numbers so readers can better understand the violence rocking the country.

Writing from Beijing, Lijia Zhang traces the impressive advance of women in China through the experiences of her own mother and grandmother. Artist Jia declares that she agrees with the recent statement of Xi Jinping that he has had enough of “weird” architecture in China as traditional buildings are torn down for Western-style development. WorldPost China Correspondent Matt Sheehan reports on how the continuing protests in Hong Kong are dividing the city. He also takes WorldPost readers behind the Mong Kok barricades, chronicling a 24-hour stretch with ongoing updates and photos. Human rights lawyer Gladys Li decries the historically incorrect collaboration of Hong Kong tycoons with Beijing Communists to deny full democracy to citizens. Meanwhile, Keping Yu, a key official of the Chinese Communist Party Central Committee, explains that, while China is not moving toward multi-party elections, political reform that is decentralizing and balancing power is nonetheless extensive. Minxin Pei doubts that the rule of law can be squared with rule by one party.

As the Ebola scare in the U.S. begins to ebb, Sriram Shamasunder and Phuoc Le criticize the lack of support medical and public health professionals in the U.S. are getting for their efforts to fight Ebola in West Africa.

On another health front, Bartow Elmore documents how the Coca-Cola Company is coping with the American attack on obesity by ramping up sales of its full-calorie brands in overseas markets.

In the third episode of Tree Media’s “Green World Rising” series, actor Leonardo DiCaprio posits that green tech can soon meet 100 percent of global energy needs.

In an interview, Peruvian novelist and Nobel Laureate Mario Vargas Llosa observes that the combination of religious hatred and “secular cynicism” sweeping the world is nourishing “monsters” like ISIS.

Finally, moral philosopher Peter Singer cautions that we are becoming “too cautious” about technological advance. “Skepticism can be lethal,” he says.


EDITORS: Nathan Gardels, Senior Advisor to the Berggruen Institute on Governance and the long-time editor of NPQ and the Global Viewpoint Network of the Los Angeles Times Syndicate/Tribune Media, is the Editor-in-Chief of The WorldPost. Farah Mohamed is the Managing Editor of The WorldPost. Kathleen Miles is the Senior Editor of the WorldPost. Alex Gardels is the Associate Editor of The WorldPost. Nicholas Sabloff is the Executive International Editor at the Huffington Post, overseeing The WorldPost and HuffPost’s 10 international editions. Eline Gordts is HuffPost’s Senior World Editor.

CORRESPONDENTS: Sophia Jones in Istanbul; Matt Sheehan in Beijing.

EDITORIAL BOARD: Nicolas Berggruen, Nathan Gardels, Arianna Huffington, Eric Schmidt (Google Inc.), Pierre Omidyar (First Look Media) Juan Luis Cebrian (El Pais/PRISA), Walter Isaacson (Aspen Institute/TIME-CNN), John Elkann (Corriere della Sera, La Stampa), Wadah Khanfar (Al Jazeera), Dileep Padgaonkar (Times of India) and Yoichi Funabashi (Asahi Shimbun).

CONTRIBUTING EDITORS: Moises Naim (former editor of Foreign Policy), Nayan Chanda (Yale/Global; Far Eastern Economic Review) and Katherine Keating (One-On-One). Sergio Munoz Bata and Parag Khanna are Contributing Editors-At-Large.

The Asia Society and its ChinaFile, edited by Orville Schell, is our primary partner on Asia coverage. Eric X. Li and the Chunqiu Institute/Fudan University in Shanghai and Guancha.cn also provide first person voices from China. We also draw on the content of China Digital Times. Seung-yoon Lee is The WorldPost link in South Korea.

Jared Cohen of Google Ideas provides regular commentary from young thinkers, leaders and activists around the globe. Bruce Mau provides regular columns from MassiveChangeNetwork.com on the “whole mind” way of thinking. Patrick Soon-Shiong is Contributing Editor for Health and Medicine.

ADVISORY COUNCIL: Members of the Berggruen Institute’s 21st Century Council and Council for the Future of Europe serve as the Advisory Council — as well as regular contributors — to the site. These include, Jacques Attali, Shaukat Aziz, Gordon Brown, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, Juan Luis Cebrian, Jack Dorsey, Mohamed El-Erian, Francis Fukuyama, Felipe Gonzalez, John Gray, Reid Hoffman, Fred Hu, Mo Ibrahim, Alexei Kudrin, Pascal Lamy, Kishore Mahbubani, Alain Minc, Dambisa Moyo, Laura Tyson, Elon Musk, Pierre Omidyar, Raghuram Rajan, Nouriel Roubini, Nicolas Sarkozy, Eric Schmidt, Gerhard Schroeder, Peter Schwartz, Amartya Sen, Jeff Skoll, Michael Spence, Joe Stiglitz, Larry Summers, Wu Jianmin, George Yeo, Fareed Zakaria, Ernesto Zedillo, Ahmed Zewail, and Zheng Bijian.

From the Europe group, these include: Marek Belka, Tony Blair, Jacques Delors, Niall Ferguson, Anthony Giddens, Otmar Issing, Mario Monti, Robert Mundell, Peter Sutherland and Guy Verhofstadt.


The WorldPost is a global media bridge that seeks to connect the world and connect the dots. Gathering together top editors and first person contributors from all corners of the planet, we aspire to be the one publication where the whole world meets.

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