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Tunisia’s President, Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, fled the country on Friday after a month of increasingly violent public protests. President Ben Ali had ruled the country for more than 23 years but citizens were becoming ever more frustrated with the economic conditions in the nation. Many in Tunisia live in poverty, face high unemployment and poor economic prospects. In the view of many Tunisians, President Ben Ali’s totalitarian regime ignored their interests and was only focused on keeping his entrenched regime in place. Tunisia’s Prime Minister, Mohamed Ghannouchi, is expected to announce a new unity coalition government on Monday. The public protests that lead to President Ben Ali’s ouster have decreased but the sense is that they will revive if the new government does not maintain progress in changing the nation’s political structure. There have been some skirmishes with gunmen loyal to the ousted president. The entrenched rulers of other Arab nations are worried Tunisia’s political unrest will spill over into other countries. Morocco, Egypt, Jordan and Syria are among the countries seen at the greatest risk of public protests.

QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION:

  1. To what extent could social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook be changing the ability of totalitarian regimes to maintain complete control over their citizens?
  2. The entrenched rulers of other Arab nations are worried that the successful presidential ouster in Tunisia will contribute to contagion and Tunisia’s political unrest will spill over into their countries. Is this likely to happen? Why or why not?
  3. Political risk can be defined as changes in governmental policies that adversely impact the profitability or value of a firm. How can firms plan for and respond to political risks in this region?

SOURCE: Blair, E. (2011, January 16). Arab leaders to grapple with new order post-Tunisia. Reuters.com. (Retrievable online at: http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE70F24J20110116)

Related video clip available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/video/idUSTRE70D2OV20110117?videoId=178016000

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