The Realist Prism: Applying the Lessons of Tunisia in Yemen

The fall of Tunisia’s President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali is the latest reminder of how difficult it can be to encourage “friendly autocrats,” in the Middle East and throughout the world, to undertake reforms. It’s likely that, in light of Ben Ali’s fate, Yemen’s President Ali Abdullah Saleh is reassessing the advice that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave him during her visit earlier this month about moving ahead with political liberalization. But policymakers in Washington are apprehensive as well. Ben Ali’s government was often described as a “liberal autocracy,” where the state propagated a version of Islam more compatible […]

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