A Tunisian court sentenced former president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali in absentia on Monday to 35 years in jail, six months after his overthrow in a revolution helped to inspire the “Arab Spring.”
Ben Ali, who has been in Saudi Arabia since he was forced from power, was found guilty after just one day of deliberation of theft and of illegally possessing jewelry and large sums of cash.
The same sentence was handed down to his wife Leila Trabelsi, a former hairdresser whose lavish lifestyle and clique of wealthy relatives were symbols of the corruption of the Ben Ali era for many Tunisians.
Ben Ali and his wife flew to Saudi Arabia on January 14 after mass protests against his 23-year rule. The Tunisian government said in February it had asked Saudi Arabia to extradite Ben Ali.
On one hand, this guy has been in Saudi Arabia since he was forced from power, something that says a lot from the theocratic monarchy. On the other hand, the Islamist leader Ghanoucci had returned from London, where he was exiled, and his followers had begun to shout anti-Jewish slogans, worrying the country’s security. My view is that Ben Ali should be punished for what he did to the country, though I don’t think that a hardly “moderate” guy is the solution of the future in Tunisia:
“Zionism is both alien and illegitimate in origin: it is a hegemonist and nationalist project rooted and nourished on the traditional European impulse towards expansion and domination. The founding fathers of the Zionist adventure were not in any way believers in Judaism, not even in its distorted, rabbinical form: they were in essence pragmatists who exploited the Jewish heritage as a means to achieve their nationalistic goals. All this, moreover, was done within the broader context of Western strategic hopes for the destabilizing and enfeebling of the Islamic world.”
And though he doesn’t like Israel and the Jooos at all, he is far from being a fan of Western countries (although he has been living for more than 20 years in UK):
Ghannouchi has long been a supporter of anti-American causes. He supported Saddam Hussein during the tyrant’s invasion and occupation of Kuwait in 1990. In private, he has been quoted sermonizing about “driving out the American invaders and their allies” to save “the Holy Kaaba and the Tomb of the Noble Prophet from the plots of the enemies of the Arabs and Islam”. While he condemned the September 11th terrorist attacks as a crime, he conditioned his denunciation by asking for Western understanding in “our anger towards America as the greatest supporter of dictatorships in the Arab and Muslims world and elsewhere.” He has gone on to accuse the United States of exploiting the attacks in order to arouse anti-Muslim forces in India, Russia, China, and Israel. And he has even gone so far as to describe Bush Administration Pentagon officials as “a mixture of Zionists and Zionized evangelists, weapon traders, oil companies, and others.” He charges the West as those who “destroyed the Islamic caliphate, colonized our countries, and imposed secularism and partition on us.” It was the West “who implanted in the heart of our Ummah an alien and hostile entity, Israel, so as to sustain division and fragmentation. They are the ones who provide unconditional support to this entity and watch in acquiescence the daily crimes committed by its troops.” Ghannouchi’s hatred for Western civilization is neither new nor satiable.
So, was Ben Ali better or worse than Ghannouci? I can only say that I don’t like any of them, but that the latter is much more dangerous and hates much more.