Steven A. Cook forklarer hvorfor tunisiske soldater var så motvillige til å stoppe opprøret:
The Tunisian military — made up of about 36,000 officers and conscripts across the army, navy, and air force — is not the oversized military common throughout the Middle East that is short on war fighting capabilities but long on prestige and maintaining domestic stability. Defense spending in Tunisia under Ben Ali was a relatively low 1.4 percent of GDP, which reflects not only the fact that the country has no external threats, but also part of a Ben Ali strategy to ensure that the armed forces could not threaten his rule.
This was clearly a mistake.
Had Ben Ali followed Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, who has always taken great care to make sure that the Egyptian armed forces were well-resourced, General Ammar and his fellow officers may have thought twice about tossing their sugar daddy overboard.
Yet there is a more profound difference between the Tunisian military than its counterparts in Algeria, Egypt, and Turkey to name a few. …Tunisia’s military did not found a new Tunisian regime after the country’s independence in 1956. This was largely a civilian affair under the leadership of Habib Bourgiba — a lawyer. As a result, there is no organic link between the military and the political system.
Josef Joffe bruker en økonomisk modell utviklet av Samuel Huntington til å vise hvorfor opprøret (og den eventuelt etterfølgende demokratiseringen) har små sjanser til å spre seg til andre diktaturer i området:
Not counting the petro-potentates (more about them later) and strife-torn Lebanon, Tunisia is the richest of [all Arab and Maghreb African countries]. Its per-capita income is almost twice as high as neighboring Morocco, and it is ahead of Egypt, Jordan, and Syria by similar margins. The country is more urbanized (67 percent of the populace) than either Morocco (56 percent) or Egypt, (43 percent). Tunisia is also more educated: Its literacy is a bit higher than Egypt’s and a lot higher than Morocco’s, and it spends much more on education—7.2 percent of GDP, while Egypt devotes about half as much, and Morocco comes in at just 5.7 percent.
Such numbers would have made Karl Marx clap his hands in delight.
Looking at the Tunisian upheaval he would have cried out: “I was right.” About what? About the “contradiction” between regime and risers, between an ossified power structure and what he called the “bourgeoisie.” If you are poor, you have neither the time nor the energy to engage in politics. If you are not educated, you lack the cultural skills to articulate your demands—to agitate and organize. And, if you are poor, uneducated, and thus isolated, as much of the Arab world is, then you have no benchmark against which to measure your misery. Sociologists call this the “demonstration effect.”