Tunis envy

I have a confession to make.

After three days in Istanbul to attend the World Economic Forum’s summit for the Middle East, North Africa and Eurasia, I have become unhealthily and obsessively jealous of the Tunisian revolution.

Maybe it’s just a “grass is always greener on the other side” human nature sort of a thing. But I simply can’t shake the feeling that my Arab brethren to the west are handling their post-revolutionary transition about 1000 times better than we are in Egypt.

The final turning in my descent into full-blown chronic Tunis Envy was meeting and serving on a panel with Rafik Ben Abdessalem, Tunisia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs. He’s impressive, articulate and passionate. And he’s YOUNG—43 years old with no prior experience in government. Prior to accepting the role of foreign minister, he was working as a senior researcher at the Jazeera Center for Studies, a Qatari thinktank.

Bottom line: the Egyptian equivalent of Abdessalem is still no closer to real power than he was two years ago. The ongoing presidential election has proven a triumph for the country’s two old guard machines: the Muslim Brotherhood and the retrograde remnants of Hosni Mubarak’s military/security regime.

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