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“埃及不是突尼斯”,在Zine Abedine本·阿里逃离突尼斯去沙特阿拉伯后,权威人士在电视节目上反复说。

 Why Tunis, Why Cairo?

Issandr El Amrani
‘Egypt is not Tunisia,’ the pundits repeatedly said on television after Zine Abedine Ben-Ali fled Tunis for Saudi Arabia. They pointed to the differences between the two countries: one small, well-educated, largely middle-class; the other the largest in terms of population in the Arab world, with a high rate of illiteracy and ever widening inequality. Tunisia was a repressive police state in which information was tightly controlled and most people never dared to criticise the leadership out loud. Egypt was a military dictatorship that allowed a fair amount of freedom of expression, as long as it had no political consequences: you could criticise the president, but not launch a campaign to unseat him. In Tunisia, a rapacious first family indulged in widespread racketeering, alienating every social class. In Egypt, most of the elite benefited from the stability the regime maintained, and while corruption was endemic, it was not generally identified with a single clan.
“埃及不是突尼斯”,在Zine Abedine本·阿里逃离突尼斯去沙特阿拉伯后,权威人士在电视节目上反复说。他们指出两个国家的不同之处:一个是地方小,受过良好教育,大部分是中产阶级;另一个在阿拉伯世界中人口最多,具有高文盲率和不断扩大的不平等。突尼斯是一个警察镇压的国家,在那里信息被严格控制,大多数人从来不敢大声批评领导人;埃及则是一个允许一定程度言论自由的军事独裁国家,只要不带来什么政治后果,你可以批评总统,但不能发起运动去赶他下台。在突尼斯,贪婪的第一家庭沉溺于广泛的敲诈勒索中,而疏远了社会各阶层。在埃及,大多数的精英受益于稳定的政权,虽然腐败是地方病,但它一般不等同于一个家族。
But there were also important similarities. In recent years, the legitimacy of both regimes had begun to wane; in each case the ruler had been in place so long that half the population had no memory of his predecessor – more than 23 years in the case of Ben-Ali, nearly 30 in the case of Hosni Mubarak. People were uncertain about the future. Both regimes had effectively emptied formal politics of meaning by banning any party that had real popular appeal and restricting others to the status of a loyal opposition, thus depriving itself of intermediaries between the state and its citizens who could have negotiated an end to the crisis. Both countries’ supposed stability was dependent on a strategic relationship with the West. Tunisia enjoyed a warm and privileged relationship with Paris: it was reassuring for the French, angst-ridden about the growing visibility of their Muslim minority, to be able to look approvingly on a Muslim country that peddled its own commitment to laïcité as a signal that although it might be a dictatorship, it was an enlightened and progressive one. As for Egypt, Anthony Eden may have described Nasser as ‘that Hitler on the Nile’, but after the 1978 Camp David Accords the country became a pillar of American interests in the Middle East and – by its withdrawal from the Arab-Israeli conflict – an unwitting enabler of the expansionism of the Zionist state.
但是两者也有着重要的相似之处。近几年,两个政权的合法性都开始衰落,两个国家的统治者在位的时间非常长,有一半的人口对他的前任没有任何记忆——本·阿里在位时间超过23年,胡斯尼·穆巴拉克在位时间几乎长达30年。人们对未来不确定。这两个政权通过限制任何一个政党有实际的号召力和限制他人忠诚于反对派的地位的方式,颠覆了政治的本来涵义,从而剥夺政治作为国家和公民之间以谈判来结束危机的媒介作用。两个国家所谓的稳定是依赖于与西方的战略合作关系。突尼斯与巴黎之间有特殊而温情的关系:他是让法国人放心的,虽然法国对日益增长的穆斯林少数民族的知名度感到焦虑,但能够以赞许的目光来看一个穆斯林国家,其兜售自己的承诺,政教分离虽然可能是一个独裁政权的信号,但也是一个开明和进步之一。对于埃及,Anthony Eden描述纳赛尔是“尼罗河上的希特勒”,但在1978年的戴维营协议后,这个国家变成了美国在中东地区利益的支柱——随着它从阿拉伯和以色列的冲突中抽身撤离,成了犹太复国主义国家的扩张主义不知情的推动者。
Above all, Tunisia and Egypt were the last places in which most people – whether experts or ordinary citizens – would have expected to see uprisings anything like those of recent weeks. On the evening of 27 January, I sat in a hotel room in Tunis, eyes glued to Twitter for news of what was happening in Egypt. I had come the previous week to report on the Tunisian revolution, which on 14 January had forced Ben-Ali to flee. The mood in Tunis was exhilarating, the situation seemed pregnant with possibility. I didn’t recognise the country I knew: a people I had thoug

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