|Listen to the interview with Dyab Abou Jahjah:|
4th World War: To what extent do you think this popular revolution can achieve not just democratic rights but also something else: social change?
Dyab Abou Jahjah: After the dictator left the country, many people of what was the legalized opposition, the parties that were legal under the old regime, started calling for a national unity government with the RCD, which is the party of Ben Ali. . . . For a moment, it looked like it was going to end with a compromise when the trade union, the major trade union, decided to support that government. But, immediately after that, the revolution that was organizing itself in popular committees everywhere, in every neighborhood, in every village, all across the country to defend the people from militias of the old regime that were trying to create chaos in order to make the people regret that they deposed the regime — so these committees started doing something else than just defending the streets, they started also meeting and thinking and trying to devise a political agenda, and they did that by saying that they did not accept the compromise. For them the party of the dictator . . . had to be disbanded because it was the symbol of corruption and oppression and so on. Then they sent that signal to the streets. . . . [The trade union] immediately pulled back its support from the government. Now the street is demanding the disbanding of the RCD and the formation of a salvation government, which is different than the national unity government — a salvation government that represents all the segments of society and all the political parties including the illegal ones under the old regime, which are for the people the most important ones — and that this government should rewrite the constitution. And then after that there would be elections, because holding elections under the current constitution, under the provisions of the current government, which are actually the remains of the old regime, will not, according to the people, lead to the change that they aspire to. So, now it is still struggle. The new government is still there. It’s unclear whether it will fall in coming days or not. But one thing is sure: there is a lot of political agitation in Tunisia still, the revolution is still ongoing.
I personally believe that eventually the revolutionary agenda will take over and win because the people just realized their power and they are not going to stop. I believe that sooner or later they are going to impose their will. . . . When they impose their will, not only the political but also the social order will change because the way the wealth is distributed is unacceptable and the people cannot live with that. Also, foreign policy will change: Tunisia will become a pro-resistance country. That is why the American government is nervous, the Israelis are very nervous, the British and the French are very nervous. . . . That’s where there is risk, because I think the Arab dictators, the West, and the Israelis all have one interest, and that is to corrupt this revolution before it gives an example to other Arab people to depose their governments and before it creates really widespread support for the resistance in places like Palestine, Lebanon, and Iraq. I think it is a very dangerous period, a very exciting time but at the same time a very dangerous time, things can go in all directions, but I do believe that . . . at least the people are united . . . they are very united people, and I don’t think they can defeat them.
Dyab Abou Jahjah is founder and former president of the Arab European League. This interview was broadcast by Féile FM in Belfast on 19 January 2011. The text above is an edited partial transcript of the interview. Cf. Abdessalem Jerad, “Tunisia: UGTT Demands Dissolution of Government” (MRZine, 23 January 2011).