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International reactions to the Tunisian Revolution

The international reactions to the Tunisian Revolution were generally supportive of the Tunisian people's right to protest, though several governments continued to voice support for President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali up to and even after his government's largely peaceful overthrow in January 2011.

Supranational organisations

  • 23x15px Arab League — Secretary-General Amr Moussa warned at a summit in Egypt that "the Arab soul is broken by poverty, unemployment and general recession. This is in the mind of all of us. The Tunisian revolution is not far from us. The Arab citizen entered an unprecedented state of anger and frustration." He then called for an Arab "renaissance" to alleviate the burden that has caused the Arab frustration.[1]
  • 23x15px European UnionForeign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton and Commissioner Stefan Fuele jointly expressed their "support and recognition to the Tunisian people and their democratic aspirations, which should be achieved in a peaceful way" urging "all parties to show restraint and remain calm in order to avoid further casualties and violence". The EU also expressed its "willingness to help find lasting democratic solutions to the ongoing crisis".[2] She expressed support for the interim government saying "The European Union is committed to supporting Tunisia economically and to supporting civil society in order to have free elections."[3]
  • 23x15px United Nations — Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stated that "the political situation is developing fast and every effort must be made by all concerned parties to establish dialogue and resolve problems peacefully to prevent further loss, violence and escalations"[2]


  • 23x15px France — President Nicolas Sarkozy stated that "only dialogue can bring a democratic and lasting solution to the current crisis"[2] French Socialist Party First Secretary, Martine Aubry, called on the French government to be tougher towards the Tunisian government. "I would like to say to the Tunisian people that it has the full support and solidarity of the PS, and we ask that France adopt a strong position condemning the unacceptable repression."[4] Foreign Minister Michèle Alliot-Marie offered to send paratroopers to help quell the protests against Ben Ali just days before she left office.[5][6] On 24 January, Paris’s state prosecutor office announced that it had opened an investigation into French assets held by Ben Ali.[7][8] Alliot-Marie faced criticism and calls for her resignation in February after news broke that she flew in a private jet owned by a Tunisian businessman during the uprising.[9] President Nicolas Sarkozy responded by telling his ministers to take their holidays in France more often saying "What was commonplace a few years back can prove shocking nowadays."[10] On 27 February, the French foreign minister's office announced her resignation, saying that an open letter had been sent to Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president, in which Alliot-Marie made clear she felt she had not done anything wrong.[11]
    • According to The Economist: "French police hint that more than €70m ($93m) in gold was moved to Dubai and Istanbul via French airports by Mr Ben Ali’s staff during Tunisia’s revolution. (French customs officials apparently reported the transfers to superiors but no action was taken.)".[12]
  • 23x15px Libya — On 16 January, leader Muammar Gaddafi decried Ben Ali's removal in a speech on Libyan state television: "You have suffered a great loss. There is none better than Zine to govern Tunisia. Tunisia, a developed country that is a tourist destination, is becoming prey to hooded gangs, to thefts and fire. [The conditions in Tunisia reflect] chaos with no end in sight.[15] I am concerned for the people of Tunisia, whose sons are dying each day. And for what? In order for someone to become president instead of Ben Ali? I do not know these new people, but we all knew Ben Ali and the transformation that was achieved in Tunisia. Why are you destroying all of that? [Do not be fooled by] WikiLeaks which publishes information written by lying ambassadors in order to create chaos."[16]
  • 23x15px Morocco — The Foreign Ministry issued a statement expressing "solidarity" with the Tunisian people, hoping that Tunisia will attain "civil peace."[17]
  • 23x15px Philippines — The Department of Foreign Affairs released a statement saying that the Philippines "is closely monitoring the developments in Tunisia after the formation of a transitional government", supporting the will of the Tunisian people and urging a return to calm in preparation for "free, fair and transparent" elections.[18]
  • 23x15px Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic — The government announced its support for "the free choice of brotherly Tunisian people," through a statement its Foreign Affairs Minister Mohamed Salem Ould Salek: "The Government of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic followed with great interest the current developments in Tunisia...The Sahrawi government hopes peace, security and stability to brotherly Tunisia in freedom, democracy and equality.".[19]
  • 23x16px  Switzerland — The government said that it had frozen Ben Ali's bank accounts in the country.[20]
  • 23x15px United Kingdom — Foreign Secretary William Hague condemned the violence and called for "a rapid return to law and order, restraint from all sides, an orderly move towards free and fair elections and an immediate expansion of political freedoms in Tunisia", urging the Tunisian authorities "to do all they can to resolve the situation peacefully"[2] An emergency flight was also chartered to bring back British citizens from Tunisia.[21]
  • 23x15px United States — President Barack Obama applauded the courage and dignity of protesting Tunisians. He urged all parties to keep calm and avoid violence.[22] He also called on the Tunisian government to respect human rights and hold free and fair elections in the future.[23] During the 2011 State of the Union Address, he referenced events in Tunisia saying that the democratic goals are supported and that the "struggles" of the American people are sought by others around the world.[24] The State Departments leading envoy for the region, Jeffrey Feltman, said the US was hoping that the "example" of Tunisia would bring reform to the rest of the region. "I certainly expect that we'll be using the Tunisian example [in talks with other Arab governments]. The challenges being faced in many parts of the world, particularly in the Arab world, are the same and we hope people will be addressing legitimate political, social, economic grievances." This came despite US support for Ben Ali. He also said he would visit France for talks over the crisis in Tunisia.[25]


The International Federation for Human Rights, which is headed by Tunisian journalist Souhayr Belhassen, condemned "the use of firearms by the Tunisian security forces, and calls for an independent inquiry to cast light on these events, to hold those responsible accountable and to guarantee the right to peaceful protest."[27]

Activist and militant groups

The Al-Qaeda Organization in the Islamic Maghreb voiced support for the demonstrators against both the Tunisian and Algerian governments in a video released on 13 January 2011. AQIM leader Abu Musab Abdul Wadud offered military aid and training to the demonstrators. He also called on them to overthrow "the corrupt, criminal and tyrannical" regime and for "retaliation" against the Tunisian government. His statement was denounced by Tunisian members of parliament, journalists, students, and residents.[28][29]

The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt commented on the events in Tunisia in relation to that of Egypt: "Muslim Brotherhood has asserted that the group believes immediate reform is necessary if Egypt is not to follow suit in Tunisia's historical uprising witnessed worldwide."[30]

On 2 January the hacktivist group Anonymous announced 'Operation Tunisia' in solidarity with the protests by targeting a number of Tunisian state-run websites[31][32] with Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks. In a statement Anonymous announced:

"The Tunisian government wants to control the present with falsehoods and misinformation in order to impose the future by keeping the truth hidden from its citizens. We will not remain silent while this happens. Anonymous has heard the claim for freedom of the Tunisian people. Anonymous is willing to help the Tunisian people in this fight against oppression."[33]
Within 24 hours of the announcement, multiple Tunisian governmental websites were made unavailable, including: Bourse de Tunis (the Tunisian national stock exchange), Foreign Ministry, Ministry of Industry, Tunisian Government Commerce, The Carthage Palace (home to the President), presidential election commission and a government website that is a portal for various ministries.[34][35]

See also


  1. ^ "Arab leaders warned of 'revolution' – Middle East". Al Jazeera English. 19 January 2011. Retrieved 1 February 2011. 
  2. ^ a b c d "In quotes: Reaction to Tunisian crisis". BBC. 14 January 2011. Retrieved 15 January 2011. 
  3. ^ "Italy struggles with Tunisia influx – Africa". Al Jazeera English. 14 February 2011. Retrieved 20 February 2011. 
  4. ^ "TUNISIA: France's attitude toward crackdown raises eyebrows". Los Angeles Times. 
  5. ^ Willsher, Kim (4 February 2011). "Egypt protests: France shaken by news of aid to Tunisia and Egypt". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 8 February 2011. 
  6. ^ Ali, Tariq. "Egypt's Chaos Defines Bleeding in Despotic Arab World: Tariq Ali". Bloomberg. Retrieved 8 February 2011. 
  7. ^ "Paris begins investigation into Ben Ali's assets". RFI. Retrieved 26 January 2011. 
  8. ^ "Paris probes Tunisia's ousted leader's assets held in France". All Headline News. 24 January 2011. Retrieved 26 January 2011. 
  9. ^ Kim Willsher in Paris (8 February 2011). "France's prime minister spent family Christmas break as guest of Mubarak | World news". The Guardian (UK). Retrieved 8 February 2011. 
  10. ^ "Sarkozy bid to end holiday furore – Europe". Al Jazeera English. Retrieved 11 February 2011. 
  11. ^ "French foreign minister resigns". Al-Jazeera. 27 February 2011. Retrieved 27 February 2011. 
  12. ^ Recovering stolen assets: Making a hash of finding the cash
  13. ^ "Iran’s Larijani praises Tunisians’ struggle for rights". Tehran Times. 17 January 2011. 
  14. ^ Wertheimer, Stef. "Nasrallah: Unrest in Egypt will transform Middle East". Jerusalem Post. Israel. Retrieved 11 February 2011. 
  15. ^ Richard Spencer. "Gaddafi: bring back Ben Ali, there's none better." The Guardian. 16 Jan. 2011. Accessed 16 Jan. 2011.
  16. ^ Monsters and Critics. "Libya's Gaddaffi pained by Tunisian revolt, blames WikiLeaks." 16 Jan. 2011. Accessed 16 Jan. 2011.
  17. ^ "Morocco expresses solidarity with Tunisian people". 
  18. ^ "Philippine Statement on Tunisia". Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs. 26 January 2011. Retrieved 28 January 2011. 
  19. ^ “Saharawi government supports free choice of brotherly Tunisian people” (foreign Minister) Sahara Press Service, 16 January 2011.
  20. ^ Baldwin, Leigh. "Switzerland Is Examining Whether Mubarak Has Financial Assets in Country". Bloomberg. Retrieved 8 February 2011. 
  21. ^ Fisk, Robert (17 January 2011). "The brutal truth about Tunisia". London: The Independent. 
  22. ^ "Tunisians drive leader from power in mass uprising". 
  23. ^ "Obama condemns violence in Tunisia, calls for government to respect human rights". 
  24. ^ Breaking News, State of the Union. Al Jazeera English. 3:00 GMT, 26 January 2011.
  25. ^ "US: Tunisia example can spur reform". Al Jazeera. 14 January 2011. Retrieved 26 January 2011. 
  26. ^ "Tunisia: PM Receives U.S. Senators Mccain and Lieberman". 21 February 2011. Retrieved 1 March 2011. 
  27. ^ "A protester dies after being shot by police, as activists criticise government repression of protests". Al Jazeera. 31 December 2010. Retrieved 31 December 2010. 
  28. ^ ennahar (14 January 2011). "Al-Qaeda supports the events in Tunisia and Algeria". Ennaharonline/ M. O. Retrieved 15 January 2011. 
  29. ^ Adem Amine in Algiers and Jamel Arfaoui in Tunis for Magharebia (13 January 2011). "AQIM leader exploits Tunisia, Algeria unrest". Magharebia. Retrieved 15 January 2011. 
  30. ^ "The Muslim Brotherhood Official English Website". Ikhwanweb. Retrieved 1 February 2011. 
  31. ^ Yasmine Ryan (6 January 2011). "Tunisia's bitter cyberwar – Features". Al Jazeera English. Retrieved 14 January 2011. 
  32. ^ "Tunisia under attack by Anonymous; press release". Daily Kos. 2 January 2011. Retrieved 2 January 2011. 
  33. ^ "Operation Tunesia – English". Anonymous. 2 January 2011. Retrieved 2 January 2011. 
  34. ^ Evan Hill (3 January 2011). "Hackers hit Tunisian websites – Africa". Al Jazeera English. Retrieved 14 January 2011. 
  35. ^ Hamid Dabashi. "Delayed defiance - Opinion". Al Jazeera English. Retrieved 1 March 2011.