A Ticking Bomb Detonates in Tunisia
January 17, 2011 • 11:33AM

There is no simple or straightforward explanation for the now-unfolding crisis in Tunisia, which erupted last week and has led to the departure of longtime President Ben Ali and a succession of interim heads of state in the past 48 hours. A senior U.S. intelligence official had warned more than a year ago about a simmering crisis throughout the Maghreb region of Africa, based on a growing legion of young, educated men and women who cannot find meaningful employment, and who confront skyrocketing prices for basic food and energy. Fifty-two percent of the population of Tunisia is under 25 years of age, and the unemployment rate among youth is astronomical, even among university educated youth.

President Ben Ali had been in power for 23 years, when street protests this week — triggered by the suicide of a young unemployed university graduate who was peddling fruit and vegetables on the street because he could not find other work — forced him to flee the country and take asylum in Saudi Arabia. While various reports indicated that remnants of Ben Ali's secret police were deeply involved in the violence and looting of the past 48 hours, and while the international media has dubbed the Tunisian events "the Jasmine Revolution," there is no evidence yet that these events were engineered by either a faction of the regime or by outside elements, like George Soros, whose Open Society Institute played a significant role in Ukraine and Georgia. Pending further intelligence readings, the Tunisian events bear the markings of a social explosion that was waiting to happen. One Egyptian source, closely following the events, indicated that the same conditions exist throughout North Africa and the Middle East—including in Egypt.

The senior U.S. intelligence official noted that, in a number of countries in the Maghreb and the Near East, secular reform factions have been successfully suppressed, and only the Saudi-funded Islamist movements, like Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, have the resources to challenge the prevailing regimes. He emphasized that the global pattern of hyperinflation has hit these regions hard, and that the combination of exploding prices for basic food and energy, combined with extremely high unemployment — particularly hitting the under-25-year-olds — is a recipe for social explosion, whether it is triggered or not.

Lyndon LaRouche Sunday had the following to say about the unfolding situation: "This is much broader than Tunisia, and it's not about Tunisia per se. We have to look at the broader implications in the same way we had to do so in the Tucson shooting case. This is an existential crisis for the whole Muslim and African world." It can't be reduced to either an "economic-social" problem (as in the price rises and unemployment), or an "outside operation" (such as the Soros colored revolution).