Dan Murphy questions a fashionable view of what triggered what is already being referred to as the Jasmine Revolution:
The theory goes that private US diplomatic cables from the Tunis embassy released via Wikileaks on December 7 revealed to Tunisians that Ben Ali was an authoritarian despot, that his family was supremely corrupt, and that life was crushingly hard for the Tunisian poor and unemployed, spurring them to take to the streets.
It goes without saying that Tunisian’s were well aware of this and more, and that the spark for weeks of street protests and riots that rolled across Tunisia (and, indeed, are still rolling) was the suicide of a desperate young man in mid-December.
Interestingly, in doing so, he finds fault with an article on the Foreign Policy Website, and he is careful to reserve judgement on whether or not the recent dramatic changes in Tunisia are truly revolutionary.
The spark for the Tunisian uprising (I’m reluctant to call it a "revolution" since it certainly isn’t clear, as Tunisians are kept inside tonight by a harshly enforced military curfew, that the established order will be replaced) was the spectacular self-immolation of Mohammed Bouazizi in Sidi Bouzid on December 18. Mr. Bouazizi, a 26-year-old computer science university graduate who couldn’t find a job in his field and had been reduced to selling fruits and vegetables on the street, set himself on fire Dec. 18 after police confiscated his little stand. The official reason was that he didn’t have a permit, but I’d bet the real reason was the he failed to pay a bribe.