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The Tigray Peoples’ Liberation Front (TPLF), Washington’s main proxy in the Horn of Africa Uses Five Month Truce to Rearm

September 13, 2022

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed with Chinese President Xi Jinping, April, 2019. photo credit: CGTN. Thir relationship especially irks Washington although it is no way “anti-American”; rather it is Ethiopian policy, in line with the emerging multi-polar world, to make economic and trade alliances with all those willing to cooperate with it, not on an ideological basis.


Interestingly enough, U.S. policy towards Ethiopia has follow the general outline set out a half century ago, in 1972, by none other than Henry Kissinger, at the time the head of the National Security Council, a body known at the time as “the committee in charge with running the world” as Theodore M. Vestal wrote in “The Lion of Judah in the New World”.

In a confidential report cited by Vestal (but the actual document I could not find) Vestal goes on to claim that Kissinger “recommended that U.S. policy should be to keep the nation in perennial internal conflict, using such vulnerabilities as ethnic, religious and other divisions to destabilize the country.” Vestak goes on to comment, prophetically it turns out that “Kissinger’s recommendation  appears to have been followed successfully not only for Ethiopia but the Horn of Africa has been in turmoil ever since.. (p. 188)”\


A friend returning recently from visiting family in Addis Ababa tells that the city is generally quiet and safe and that the proverbial “man on the street” is well aware of  the foreign entities that are behind the regime change effort. But now that quiet interlude appears to be over and fighting has started again between the Addis government and the break away TPLF dominated Tigray region. The TPLF is nothing more than Ethiopia’s version of the Nicaragua Contras – an organization bought and paid for by Washington to do its dirty work in the Horn of Africa and this it continues to do faithfully.

“After a fragile ceasefire lasting just five months, the TPLF (The Tigray Peoples’ Liberation Front) have once again initiated violent conflict with federal forces in Northern Ethiopia”. Thus began a recent (September 3, 2022) by British researcher Graham Pebbles that appeared in the Eurasian Review in an article aptly titled “Renewed TPLF Terror War Against the Ethiopian People. Having been soundly defeated by the Ethiopian military in the first round, the TPLF cried uncle at that time, called for negotiations essentially to give it the breathing time to rearm rather than prepare for peace. While Washington has issued sanctions against arms sales to both the Ethiopian government and the TPLF, it has closed its eyes to surreptitious arms shipments to the TPLF through Sudan (and other channels). Egyptian support for the TPLF is also pronounced and is nothing new. “It has been known that it (Egypt) has been supporting proxy war in Ethiopia at least since the 1970s,” this according to an article in Borkena.

Missing from such reports – for whatever reason – is Washington’s role in managing the whole affair. Read more…

Guest Blogger: Renewed TPLF Terror War Against The Ethiopian People – OpEd by Graham Peebles

September 9, 2022

Ethiopian-Eritrean Rally in Seattle Washington, March 2021.. One of the main goals of U.S. Horn of Africa policy is to break the growing ties between these two former adversaries

(Note – this article first appeared in the Eurasian Review on September 3, 2022. rjp)

Renewed TPLF Terror War Against The Ethiopian People – OpEd

 September 3, 2022  Graham Peebles 


After a fragile ceasefire lasting just five months, the TPLF (Tigray People’s Liberation Front) have once again initiated violent conflict with federal forces in Northern Ethiopia.


They started the war in November 2020, were forced to retreat just over a year later, but not content with the level of human suffering resulting from their initial barbarism, they are, it seems, determined to kill and kill again; to rape and beat their Ethiopian brethren; to once more destroy property, burn farmland, slaughter livestock, sending fear through communities, deepening the pain of a nation in their frenzied quest for power.

This latest offensive was launched on 24 August, violating the humanitarian truce agreed with the Ethiopian government, and shattering the temporary peace. A Government statement relayed that, “Ignoring all of the peace alternatives presented by the government, the terrorist group TPLF…. continued its recent provocations and launched an attack this morning at 5 am (0200 GMT)”

The TPLF used the months of peace, not to enter unto constructive dialogue with the government, to address the needs of people in Tigray impacted by the war and beg for forgiveness, but to actively re-arm and rebuild its forces. The Crisis Group relate that they have “solid evidence” of at least 10 Antonov planes making deliveries (of arms it is assumed) “to two airports in Tigray,” almost certainly from Sudan. One such aircraft, en route from Sudan and loaded with weapons, was recently shot down by the Ethiopian air force.

The government has known about these arial shipments for some time, but failed to clamp down on them. This lack of decisive action, particularly in relation to law and order issues has been a feature of the Abiy premiership, and is something that needs to change.

Whilst TPLF thugs lit the fuse of renewed conflict in Tigray’s southern border, other misguided fighters, many little more than children, raided a World Food Program (WFP) warehouse in Mekelle (capital of Tigray region). “12 full fuel tankers with 570,000 litres of fuel” were taken, and UN staff detained, reported, Stephane Dujarric, chief spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. “These fuel stocks were to be used solely for humanitarian purposes, for the distribution of food, fertilizer and other emergency relief items. This loss of fuel will impact humanitarian operations supporting communities in all of northern Ethiopia

Stealing from the UN to enable war is nothing new for the TPLF; From July-September 2021 the WFP state that, “445 contracted non-WFP trucks entered Tigray, but only 38 ….returned,” – 407 were stolen by the TPLF. The lack of vehicles the agency said, was “the primary impediment to ramping up the humanitarian response” within Tigray. The inability of UN agencies to deliver humanitarian aid is of no concern whatsoever to the TPLF leadership, who care not a jot for the people of Tigray, and even less for other ethnic groups throughout Ethiopia. Read more…

Interview: Samia Halaby, Artist, Author “Drawing The Kafr Qasem Massacre” – 9 am MST, Thursday, September 8, 2022

September 7, 2022

Copyright. Samia Halaby. Shaker Easa Family III 1999

This interview is in preparation for “Together For Palestine” October 8, 2022 , S. Broadway Church Christian Church. 23 Lincoln, Denver. 11-5 – Justice. History and Culture. More details will follow. The event currently has 18 sponsors. More detailed information will follow in the coming days.

While the interview is live it will be available on Facebook, YouTube and Linked in afterwards. RJP

For viewing go to:

Solidarity With Cuba Fundraiser – Saturday, September 10 1-4 pm – 809 S. Washington St. Denver

September 6, 2022

“The Turkish Tap Dance, The Israeli `Pickle’ and JCPOA – The Middle East, A Region in Transition” – KGNU – Hemispheres – Middle East Dialogues – Tuesday, August 30, 2022

September 6, 2022

Qassem Suleimani. Iranian leader. Suliemani was assassinated by the Trump Administration on January 3, 2020. Most Americans have no idea how destructive that murder was to U.S. Middle East policy and how his death gave impetus to the Axis of Resistance

(Note on the audio: During the recording technical problems emerged which made for on-air periods which KGNU was trying to address. Unfortunately that affected the quality of the program itself. In this version I have edited out as much of the technical problem solving as possible but some remains and the remaining product is somewhat choppy here and there. Still, when listening to it several times after editing I am convinced that plenty of thoughtful content remains; it is worth publishing all the same.)

Here is the description of the program that appeared just prior to its airing:

Tonight Ibrahim and Rob will discuss Middle East and how the region is caught between the old unipolar global political model in which Washington “calls all the shots” and the emerging multipolar realities in which, while still an important factor in the region, Washington’s influence is waning and that of China, Russia and Iran somewhat strengthening. The classic example of this fluid reality is Turkey, a NATO member on the one hand but becoming more economically and politically integrated with China and Russia on the other. Then there is never ending drama (approaching soap opera proportions) which is the fate of the JCPOA (Iran Nuclear Deal). Is it dead? Has it been resurrected? Is Iran moving in the direction of the “North Korean option?”. Is there new momentum for peace in Syria? What is “the Israeli Pickle” and why is not likely to be resolved soon? All that and more Tuesday on Hemispheres – the Middle East Dialogues. Up to date news from the Middle East you won’t get from the mainstream corporate media.

University of Denver, which likes to boast of “celebrating diversity” throws Dr. Nader Hashemi, Director of the university’s Center for Middle East Studies, under the bus. The beginning of a witch hunt?

August 28, 2022

University of Denver Campus – Fall, 2013. In the fall when the campus is quite lovely. (R. Prince photo) 

A casual remark taken out of context…

An August 20, 2022 podcast interview with University of Denver’s Dr. Nader Hashemi on what for Americans is an obscure website, “The Iran Podcast by Negar Mortazavi” has trigger a storm of protest from Zionist sources both in Israel  and in the United States that includes a statement from the University of Denver essentially “throwing Hashemi under the bus” and undermining faculty freedom of speech. Very possibly all this is only the first step in targeting Hashemi and the Center for Middle East Studies which he has headed up at D.U.’s Korbel School of International Studies for more than a decade. It is worthwhile to listen to the said podcast to appreciate the degree to which the Jerusalem Post and the leaders of Denver’s Jewish Community have made “a mountain out of a mole hole”, “a tempest in a teacup”, “much to do about nothing”, etc. Still, don’t underestimate how this could spill out of control into something approaching yet another intellectual lynching of the kind that is becoming more and more common these days.

The heart of the matter in this case is academic freedom, the attempts to limit it and the effort on the part of the University to respect and defend one of their own.

Is the targeting Dr. Hashemi and D.U.’s Center for Middle East Studies a part of a broader attack, the second wave of targeting Middle East Studies programs nationwide that intensified after the September 11, 2001 attacks? It would appear so as in a few days, nay, 24 hours Hashemi’s remarks, grossly taken out of context, have triggered what appears to be a coordinated international response. A Jerusalem Post article “Mossad likely on behind Salman Rushdie stabbing, claims Denver professor” on August 23, was the opening salvo followed by a statement expressing “anger” and being “appalled” by leaders of Colorado’s mainstream Jewish Establishment. Rather than defending one of its key faculty members right to free speech, the University of Denver, which for decades has claimed to “celebrate diversity”, issued a statement (part of which is reported on this link) distancing itself from Hashemi, more or less throwing Hashemi under the bus. The accusations against Hashemi were also immediately published in Campus Watch,the twenty year old McCarthyite anti-Islamic organization that witch hunts Palestinian supporters and academics in U.S. universities.

It should not be surprising if this contrived controversy does not spill over into the mainstream media, but here in Colorado and nationwide in the days and weeks to come.

Initial Documents:

The Iran Podcast by Negar Mortazavi – Salman Rushdie and Iran – August 20, 2022 – Recommend listening to the entire interview to see the degree to which the Jerusalem Post and the leaders of Denver’s Jewish Community have made “a mountain out of a mole hole”, “a tempest in a tea cup”, “much to do about nothing”, etc.

Jerusalem Post – August 23, 2022 – Mossad likely behind Salman Rushdi stabbling, claims Denver professor.

Nader Hashemi: The University of Denver’s Statement (see below)

Campus Watch : University of Denver Professor Blames Israel for Rushdie Attack. August 24, 2022. (Note: What is “Campus Watch” ? Palestinian response. Note that the date on this Electronic Intifada article is from 2002, ie, this kind of McCarthyite nonsense has been going on for a very long time.

Hillel Press Statement “Press Statement on Comments by Nader Hashemi” – August 25, 2022

DU Middle Eastern Scholar under fire for comments on Rushdie stabbing believes he’s become a political target. Denver Gazette. August 26, 2022

Republican Leaders Vow to Investigate U.S. Colleges for Pro-Iran Bias After Prof. Claims Israel Behind Rushdie Attack – University of Denver facing GOP fire after professor claims Mossad could have been behind Rushdie Stabbing. August 26, 2022

Republicans Eye Pro-Iran Propaganda in US Colleges After Prof Claims Israel Behind Rushdie Attack. August 26, 2022

Nader Hashemi: An Iran Puppet in Denver August 27, 2022. A particularly scurrilous piece; the kind of thing floating around social media, conflating anti-Zionism (which is anti-racist) with anti-Semitism, old, worn out, invalid comparison

Colorado Jewish leaders call out DU professor’s remarks on Salman Rushdie stabbing Denver Post August 29, 2022

Jewish Community Statement About Scapegoating by University of Denver Professor. August 30, 2022

Middle East Studies Association. Committee on Academic Freedom. University of Denver Statement about Professor Nader Hashemi

Krista Kafer. Free Speech Under Attack, This Time At DU. Denver Post. September 4, 2022

Thrashed for Theorizing: Notes on Anti-Semitism, Israel and the Attack on Salman Rushdie. September 9, 2022


University of Denver Statement 

This week, the University of Denver, my (Nader Hashemi’s) home institution, published the following statement about me after I gave an interview about the heinous attack on Salman Rushdie:

Professor Hashemi spoke as an individual faculty member and does not speak for the University. While we wholeheartedly respect academic freedom and freedom of speech, his comments do not reflect the point of view of the university, nor are we aware of any facts that support this view. The safety of every speaker and every student on our campus, and all campuses, is critical to our society. We condemn the stabbing of Salman Rushdie. And it goes without saying that we remain committed to assuring that the experience of our Jewish students, faculty and staff is safe, supportive, respectful, and welcoming.

How’s that for supporting a faculty member’s free speech rights?


KGNU – Hemispheres – Middle East Dialogues hosted by Jim Nelson – Tuesday, August 30, 2022 @ 6 – 7 pm, mst. The Middle East Caught between a unipolar and multipolar world. With Ibrahim Kazerooni and Rob Prince

August 28, 2022

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, center, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan pose for a photo prior to their talks at the Saadabad palace, in Tehran, Iran, Iran, Tuesday, July 19, 2022. (Sergei Savostyanov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP) Where is Joe Biden?

KGNU – Hemispheres – Middle East Dialogues – Tuesday, August 30, 2022 @ 6 – 7 pm, mst. The Middle East Caught between a unipolar and multipolar world. With Ibrahim Kazerooni and Rob Prince., hosted by Jim Nelson

The Middle East is caught between the old unipolar global political model in which Washington “calls all the shots” and the emerging multipolar realities in which, while still an important factor in the region, Washington’s influence is waning and that of China, Russia and Iran somewhat strengthening. The classic example of this fluid reality is Turkey, a NATO member on the one hand but becoming more economically and politically integrated with China and Russia on the other. Then there is never ending drama – approaching soap opera proportions of the fate of the JCPOA (Iran Nuclear Deal). Is it dead? Has it been resurrected? Is Iran moving in the direction of the “North Korean option?”. Is there new momentum for peace in Syria? All that and more – KGNU – Hemispheres – Middle East Dialogues, the news from the Middle East you won’t get from the NY Times or CNN. 

A Blast from the past – a poster for “Survivors from Hiroshima” – a delegation of two on their way to the Second Special Session for Disarmament – June, 1982

August 19, 2022

Survivors from Hiroshima – June 2, 1982

Nancy is gong through old cabinets and closets trying to throw out “stuff”. As anyone knows who has tried, it’s hard. Classic example: she found a drawing – probably done by our daughter Molly in 1982. It is on the backside of the poster in this picture. The post brought back a flood of memories.

The speakers:

Dr. Carl Johnson – The Jefferson County Public Health director who insisted on testing the ground and water nearby what was then the Rocky Mountain Nuclear Power Plant. He found both the ground and the water polluted with radioactive contamination, a fact which would be key to the growth of a movement to close the plant (which happened in 1989). He was rewarded for his heroic (a word I rarely use) work by being fired by the county board under pressure from developers and real estate interests hoping to cash in on the surrounding area, polluted or not.

Ellen Lavroff (actually Dr. Ellen Lavroff) – who taught Spanish at what today is Front Range Community College and spearheaded a union drive in the community colleges statewide. Along with Nick Ulibarri, Korean War Veteran, Ellen and I traveled the length of the state of Colorado trying to outsmart the State Board for Community Colleges that was always trying to hide their board meetings from us. Ellen went on to become the president of the Colorado Federation of Teachers and once ran for the presidency of the American Federation of Teachers against what was then the Al Shanker political machine. She lost but kicked Shanker in the shins (politically) or maybe a little bit higher. She had one “bad habit” smoking. In the early 1990s she developed throat cancer which killed her in a few months.

Wilma Webb – The wife of soon to be Denver Mayor Wellington Webb and a force in her own right. A member of the Colorado state legislature for many years and a strong promoter of funding minority cultural programs. She died in 2019.. Both Wilma and Wellington would go on to become important players in the Democratic Party nationally.

Lorraine Garcia – for many years spearheaded the work of the American Friends Service Committee in Denver. The daughter of a union worker in the city’s meat packing industry. That union was one of the strongest and most militant unions in Colorado history – its history written up in a work by the late Dick Gould. Lorraine was influential in getting the area around the old Asarco Plant condemned as a superfund site for clean up with federal funds. She remained an effective  community organizer in minority and working class neighborhood of  northeast Denver (Globeville) for many years.

If I remember correctly – one of the Japanese speakers was from Hiroshima, the other from Nagasaki. They had flown in from Japan to San francisco and stopped in Denver on their way to the Second Special Session on Disarmament at the United Nations shortly after visiting us. In conjunction with that Special Session, peace, union and civil rights groups organized a demonstration in favor of nuclear disarmament in Central Park at which a million people were in attendance. It was described recently in an article in the Jacobin by one Michael Myerson.

Guest Blogger – Vijay Prashad: Can We Please Have An Adult Conversation About China?

August 12, 2022

Wang Bingxiu of the Shuanglang Farmer Painting Club (Dali Bai Autonomous Prefecture, China), Untitled, 2018.

(note: a simple request – logical and frankly just what is needed – an “adult conversation about China” and the ever worsening U.S-Chinese relations which just deteriorate that much more with U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s belligerent visit to Taiwan which the Biden Administration knew well would poison U.S.-Chinese relations. A planned provocation, nothing less. This morning a friend sent me Vijay Prashad’s piece on China – which I would describe as a reasonable response to the Pelosi visit. I am reposting it in full with a link to the original. Oh yes, I seriously doubt that Washington has any intention of having an adult conversation either about or with China, but that is the task of the times: to pressure Washington to do both. RJP)

Vijay Prishad: Can We Please  Have An Adult Conversation About China?

Dear friends,

Greetings from the desk of Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research.

As the US legislative leader Nancy Pelosi swept into Taipei, people around the world held their breath. Her visit was an act of provocation. In December 1978, the US government – following a United Nations General Assembly decision in 1971 – recognised the People’s Republic of China, setting aside its previous treaty obligations to Taiwan. Despite this, US President Jimmy Carter signed the Taiwan Relations Act (1979), which allowed US officials to maintain intimate contact with Taiwan, including through the sale of weapons. This decision is noteworthy as Taiwan was under martial law from 1949 to 1987, requiring a regular weapons supplier.

Pelosi’s journey to Taipei was part of the US’s ongoing provocation of China. This campaign includes former President Barack Obama’s ‘pivot to Asia’, former President Donald Trump’s ‘trade war’, the creation of security partnerships, the Quad and AUKUS, and the gradual transformation of NATO into an instrument against China. This agenda continues with President Joe Biden’s assessment that China must be weakened since it is the ‘only competitor potentially capable of combining its economic, diplomatic, military, and technological power to mount a sustained challenge’ to the US-dominated world system.

China did not use its military power to prevent Pelosi and other US congressional leaders from travelling to Taipei. But, when they left, the Chinese government announced that it would halt eight key areas of cooperation with the US, including cancelling military exchanges and suspending civil cooperation on a range of issues, such as climate change. That is what Pelosi’s trip accomplished: more confrontation, less cooperation.

Indeed, anyone who stands for greater cooperation with China is vilified in the Western media as well as in Western-allied media from the Global South as an ‘agent’ of China or a promoter of ‘disinformation’. I responded to some of these allegations in South Africa’s The Sunday Times on 7 August 2022. The remainder of this newsletter reproduces that article. Read more…

Israel Bombs Gaza – “When you can’t hit the donkey, hit the saddle instead”

August 7, 2022

Palestinian Youth, incarcerated in Israeli Prisons

So … Although it is not a formal ceasefire, there is a truce organized between Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Israel, one organized through the good graces of Egypt at Tel Aviv’s request. It was supposed to go into effect tonight at midnight. As it is already midnight in the eastern Mediterranean, it should be in force. Hopefully it will hold for all concerned.

The truce comes after three days of intensive Israeli bombing killing 50 plus Gaza Palestinians including a bunch of children whose innocent faces were plastered all over social media. Palestinians responded with missiles of their own. Israel claims that most of them – 90% – were intercepted, but I read one report, unsubstantiated that 50 % got through. Some landed, I was told, in Tel Aviv and at least one near the main Israeli Lod Airport. I have not seen an stats on Israel statistics.

What was the Israeli pretext for these three days of rage?

The Israeli government claimed that Palestinian Islamic Jihad – their favorite target now that Hamas and before it the PLO can no longer play the role – was planning some kind of military action close against the Israeli military forces bordering the electrified fence separating Gaza from Israel. In response Israel launched a pre-emptive attack. That is the mainstream narrative, as usual, an unverified claim that could not be proven or disproven, the usual excuse for premeditated attacks against Palestinians in the name of self-defense. Nothing new here.


But let me offer another “narrative”, which admittedly I cannot prove either but I think far more persuasive. Read more…

Remembering Hiroshima Day – August 6, 77 years ago.

August 6, 2022

Remember the victims of the first atom bomb attack on humans in Hiroshima. Hiroshima Memorial. August, 1987

A couple of days ago, while in northern Colorado (Windsor) I spoke with my friend Chester McQueary. We talked about what some of us “old folk” – he in is mid 80s, me in my late 70s – can do to reignite the movement against preparing for nuclear war. We had some ideas – Chester always does – that we hope to follow up on. Today on social media, a couple of friends posted “reminders” of what happened on this day when a mushroom cloud producing explosion killed several hundred thousand people in a flash, creating terror and pain for millions in the years that followed, a long term danger for world peace in what was an unnecessary finale to World War II. The United States dropped a nuclear bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima.

Today, August 6, 2022, is Hiroshima Day. I’m a little bit saddened that, to my knowledge, there are no commemorations in Colorado but I will find a way to mark it all the same (including this post), to think about it, about what happened on this day 77 years ago and what happened three days later in Nagasaki, to think about the $ trillion dollar plus funding to modernize and expand the U.S. nuclear arsenal. In my last years of teaching, I used to take foreign students, many of them Asian, up to Standley Lake (“it looks so beautiful, this couldn’t be polluted” they would say of a lake, the mud of which, contains plutonium and other nuclear contaminants) and then for a ride around the grounds of what used to be the Rocky Flats Nuclear Weapons Plant. Both look so pristine, innocuous, hiding the hundreds of thousands years danger of nuclear contamination in their grounds and streams just 16 miles from downtown Denver.

Humanity is caught in crises of its own making in large measure. Read more…

From Siilis (Finnish Hedgehogs) to Joining NATO …

August 4, 2022

A Finnish hedgehog – siili in Finnish

A Finnish hedgehog (siili) originally posted 11 years ago on social media but the photo itself taken in late 1980s close to the apartment complex where we were living at the time in Kaivoksela (Vantaa) a suburb north of Helsinki. It popped up again as old post sometimes do reminding me of those special, culturally and political rich and “challenging” (for me) years. Shy, gentle creatures, the family was always pleased to discover one in the nearby forests close to our apartment complex where we would wander all seasons of the year, cross country skiing in the winter, searching for wild blueberries in the summer and mushrooms in the fall.

Keep thinking how it is that Finland moved politically from where it was when the family left the country after a nearly five year stay – a neutral country between East and West – with a rich social-democratic political economy that was more and more impressive the longer we stayed there – to a nation moving head first into neo-liberal economic spheres with a population in its overwhelming majority supporting the country’s entry into NATO, and a more antagonistic approach to its eastern neighbor, Russia.

Some of it has to do with geopolitics – neutrality made sense during the Cold War and ceased, at least according to some, once the USSR collapsed, when Finland could jettison its more neutral stance and do what it has long wanted to do – become a more integral part of the European capitalist West… Joining the European Union which the Finns thought them might be able to influence in the realm of its creating something akin to a regional social contract (but they failed here) was ultimately a big step to the right politically as was the Finnish military increasingly joining in NATO’s Partnership for Peace program by which Finnish military leadership became addicted to U.S. high tech weaponry … but there’s more to it than this…

Had many Finnish friends – thirty years on, I’m still in contact with many of them (through social media and other means)… Most of them were, like myself, of the Left, politically and even those that weren’t were, by U.S. standards at the time very liberal (in the good sense of the term). Virtually all support their country’s stampede into NATO… Such is life.

Tunisia Since Independence – Somethings change at the top; Institutionally it all remains the same.

August 2, 2022

the mausoleum of Ferhat Hached, labor leader extraordinaire, main force behind the birth of the General Union of Tunisian Workers *UGTT” which remains today one of the most interesting and influential national trade union confederation not only in the Arab world but in the Global South. Standing at his tomb, his daughter, Djamila Chaari. November, 2011. (photo credit: R. Prince)


Whether Kais Saied’s constitutional reforms hold remains to be seen. Yet let’s be clear – this historical sketch is about political changes at the top. What does it matter if power shifts from the Parliament to the presidency – or visa versa – if, in neither case, such political developments are not combined with a socio-economic vision and program to deal with the structural crisis in Tunisian society?

In the case of Ben Ali and Ghannouchi/Ennahdha hopes for serious structural, institutional change were dashed, and that rather early on in both cases. No doubt there is considerable relief that Ennahdha’s days in power are, it appears, now in the past. There was nothing short of a nation-wide sigh of relief. Indeed, the years of Ennahdha rule are referred to as “the black decade.” But if the Said presidency is simply yet another version of “rearranging the chairs on the Titanic” then Saied’s “victory” in outmaneuvering Rachid Ghannouchi are indeed hollow.

Let’s hope for the best, but be cognisant of how little has changed in Tunisian national life by simply changing leadership… without accompanying far reaching institutional reforms it becomes just an exercise of political musical chairs.

Trying to make sense of history, Tunisian history

Trying to get my finger on the pulse concerning the patterns of Tunisian history… I notice certain parallels – Bourguiba to Ben Ali to (behind the scene) Ghannouchi to Kais Said. A shuffling of chairs at the top as leaders become ineffective with age (Bourguiba), corrupt beyond belief (Ben Ali) or so religiously factional (Ghannouchi – Ennahdha) to have split Tunisian society and lost its initial base…. and now Kais Said, who seems to be running into similar problems (more on this later). Each was able to remove – overthrow an increasingly unpopular and ineffective leader from office only to be removed later themselves for failing to address the underlying structural crisis that has plagued Tunisian for so long. In all the cases, promise of “democracy” and “human rights” evaporated into what was little more than attempts to cling to power with all the repression and corruption that entailed, be it in the name of more secular or more Islamic emphasis. The promised changes, needed reforms never happened. Funny thing… and in the end the Bourguiba-Ben Ali-Ghannouchi soup all tasted the same with slightly different seasoning. Will Kais Saied break the mold? Or is he simply more of the same? Read more…

Stop Foreign Interference in Tunisia’s Internal, Domestic Affairs: Statement of Noureddine Taboubi, Secretary General of the General Union of Tunisian Workers (UGTT), Tunisia’s National Trade Union Movement.

August 1, 2022

Emblem of the UGTT

Statement of the UGTT on foreign (US, EU) interference in Tunisia’s internal domestic affairs in Arabic July 30, 2022. Tunis.

(Below, an unofficial translation using “Google Translate.” I provide the original in Arabic above in case there are errors in translation)

Statements of the foreign ministers and ambassadors of America and some European countries about the situation in Tunisia have been repeated for some time with the intention to teach us lessons about democracy. These statements have reached the point where they are nothing less than threats and intimidation.

National Executive of the General Union of Tunisian Workers – UGTT strongly condemns the repeated statements of foreign officials on the situation in Tunisia and expresses its absolute rejection of interference in our internal affairs. We warn that the interference in internal affairs was not limited merely to statements, but went beyond them to the policies of ambassadors and embassies in all parts of the country. As a result Tunisians are increasingly subject to human rights violations regarding limiting travel visas or subjecting the forced deportation of Tunisian irregular migrants this with the complicity of the Tunisian authorities and also through international pressures to impose Tunisia’s normalization with the hateful Zionist entity. Read more…

Tunisia has a new constitution; will it be the first step in bring the country out of the socio-economic doldrums … or will the country simply face more of the same?

July 31, 2022

Market place in Sousse, Tunisia, 2015, the same year of a Salafist inspired massacre


In 10 years they’ve killed: school, culture, economy, trade, smiles, family, the projects , the future ..

– A Tunisian critique of the Ennahdha Party commenting on social media (July 31, 2022) –  

Tunisia has a new constitution. will it be the first step in bring the country out of the socio-economic doldrums … or will the country simply face more of the same? Only time will tell. The process of revising the constitution, pet project of Tunisian President Kais Saied, has been filled with controversy with eligible voter turnout low and claims of voter manipulation being raised.  Be that as it may, it appears that the small North African country wedged between two oil producing giants with turbulent histories – Algeria and Libya – has entered what might be considered a “post Ennahdha” era. Ennahdha is the Tunisian branch of Moslem Brotherhood. 

The new constitution will replace one that was drawn up and approved in 2014; that constitution was spearheaded by the Ennahda Party, At the time, Ennahda and its leader, Rached Ghannouchi, enjoyed great influence despite the fact the party held back and had virtually no role in the demonstrations which brought the government of Zine Ben Ali to its knees. It’s influence over the country’s political system since the Arab Spring events of 2011 has been pivotal. There is no doubt that it is the biggest loser in the political changes embodied in the new constitution and its supporters are among those who crying “foul” the loudest. The cries of foul of the new constitution aside, if anything, the vote for a new set of political guiding principles for Tunisia is a rejection of Ennahdha’s policies over the past decade where it was, undoubtedly, the power behind the presidency. Read more…