To avoid future embarrassment, France and other countries should stop supporting countries engaged in occupation, apartheid, repression, and autocracy.Right?
Middle East Online
PARIS - Embarrassed by its close ties with Tunisia's ousted authoritarian regime, France was scrambling Wednesday to reposition itself in the wake of its dramatic collapse.
During El Abidine Ben Ali's 23-year rule, the former colonial power maintained warm ties with a government it saw as a motor of growth, promoter of women and bulwark against Islamism.
But when Tunisia's own people revolted against Ben Ali's brutal police state, Paris was caught flat-footed, and slipped into silence as Tunisia's security forces fired on crowds in a vain bid to save him.
"Non-interference and support for freedom and democracy are at the heart of our foreign policy," President Nicolas Sarkozy told the French cabinet, his spokesman said afterwards.
"Sometimes circumstances put these two principles in opposition to each other. That is what happened with the events that just took place in Tunisia," he explained.
In fact, France's ties with Ben Ali's Tunisia went far beyond "non-interference". In 2008, rights groups criticised Sarkozy for praising the regime "for opening up the democratic space."
And last week, when rights groups were already reporting police had shot dead dozens of protesters, Foreign Minister Michele Alliot-Marie suggested France could train the force to better maintain order...
Since the downfall, Paris has been playing catch-up. Alliot-Marie has faced opposition calls for her resignation and Sarkozy has been forced to defend his position...
On Monday, Defence Minister Alain Juppe launched an attempt to reposition France by admitting that Paris had "underestimated the public exasperation at the dictatorial police state."
But the change in tune came too late to spare Sarkozy's government from the attacks of the left, with the daily Liberation denouncing a "diplomatic fiasco" overseen by Sarkozy's closest advisers.
- Hussam Ayloush
- Hussam has been a lifelong human rights activist who is passionate about promoting democratic societies, in the US and worldwide, in which all people, including immigrants, workers, minorities, and the poor enjoy freedom, justice, economic justice, respect, and equality. Mr. Ayloush frequently lectures on Islam, media relations, civil rights, hate crimes and international affairs. He has consistently appeared in local, national, and international media. Full biography at: http://hussamayloush.blogspot.com/2006/08/biography-of-hussam-ayloush.html