Same Revolution, Different Results in Egypt and Tunisia

The divergent paths taken by political revolutions in the Middle East came into sharp focus on Jan. 27 as Tunisia took another stride toward democracy by adopting a new constitution, while in Egypt the top military body paved the way for a presidential run by the general who deposed the country’s first freely elected leader last year.

Abdul Fattah al-Sisi–who was made a field marshal shortly before receiving the go-ahead from Egypt’s Supreme Council of the Armed Forces–is widely expected to win if he runs, in an election that will be held before parliamentary races.

For Egyptians disenchanted by the tin-eared rule of the Muslim Brotherhood government led by former President Mohamed Morsi, al-Sisi has become a cultlike figure, invested with their hopes for a stable government. The field marshal’s supporters argue that an al-Sisi presidency would ensure order by tackling political violence and helping revive an economy that remains in flux three years after a popular uprising broke Hosni Mubarak’s iron grip on the country. But al-Sisi has no record in politics, having spent his life rising through the ranks of Egypt’s powerful armed forces.

In contrast, the sclerotic government in Tunisia led by the Islamist party Ennahda–elected to run the country after the ouster of Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali in 2011–peacefully ceded power to a transitional cabinet on Jan. 28 after striking a compromise with the secular opposition.

Under pressure for failing to improve security and economic conditions in the country that saw the first protests of the Arab Spring, the government stepped aside after approving a widely praised constitution, setting Tunisia down a road markedly different from Egypt’s.



In a new study, Microsoft posed the question to more than 10,000 people in 10 countries. Here is a sample of how many responded positively:

74% China

73% India

48% U.S.

40% France

Three Essential Facts About Axel Kicillof

Concerns about Argentina’s economy led to a record drop in the local currency, the peso, on Jan. 23. As President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner lays low following surgery to remove a blood clot near her brain, Kicillof, the 42-year-old Minister of Economy, is playing a key role in fixing the mess–and getting international attention.


Appointed in November, Kicillof had spent most of his career as an economics professor. He also spearheaded the 2012 nationalization of YPF, the Argentine oil company.


Kicillof is continuing to centralize power in the hands of the government, with policies that blend Marxism, populism and market economics.


Despite loosening controls on dollar purchases and making overtures to the IMF and the World Bank, his opponents claim he’s inexperienced and unprepared.

A Change of Scenery


Valérie Trierweiler, the former companion of French President François Hollande, eats cake at a Society for Nutrition, Education & Health Action center in a slum in Mumbai on Jan. 28. Trierweiler embarked on the charity trip a day after Hollande announced their separation following a media storm over allegations that he was having an affair with an actress.



Acres (12,774 hectares) of poppy crops destroyed by authorities over the past year to thwart drug production in the second largest poppy grower after Afghanistan


History’s Greatest Stolen Relics

Thieves in Italy stole a vial of the late Pope John Paul II’s blood from a church in the mountains east of Rome. The theft is all the more notable because John Paul II, who died in 2005, is set to be made a saint this year. Here is a look at some other high-profile heists involving sacred relics:


Italian sailors stole the remains of St. Nicholas–otherwise known as Santa Claus–from his burial ground in a town in modern-day Turkey. The relics were transported to Italy, where they remain today.


A piece of what is believed to be the Prophet Muhammad’s hair went missing from the Hazratbal shrine in Kashmir, India, drawing condemnation from Prime Minister Nehru. The relic was recovered in early 1964.


The supposed foreskin of Jesus Christ is shrouded in mystery, not least because of confusion over whether the relic exists. But an Italian town claimed to house the real thing, until it disappeared.


Two suspects allegedly walked out of Dublin’s Christ Church Cathedral with a backpack containing the preserved heart of St. Laurence O’Toole, the city’s 12th century patron saint.


A golden urn containing what are reputed to be remnants of the Buddha–moved from the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh to a mountain shrine in 2002–was stolen in December.


‘Dolphin fishing… is an ancient fishing practice deeply rooted in their culture.’

SHINZO ABE, Japanese Prime Minister, defending the annual dolphin hunt in Taiji–more than 40 were reportedly killed–following a tweet by the U.S. ambassador to Japan, Caroline Kennedy, expressing concern at the “inhumaneness” of the practice

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The Philippines reached a peace deal with rebels in the south that could end a long-running conflict that has left over 100,000 dead


Lawmakers in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus repealed an anti-sodomy law, the last in Europe


A seagull and a crow attacked two doves released by Pope Francis in an appeal for peace. One survived; the other’s fate is unclear


China’s moon rover, the Jade Rabbit, is suffering technical problems and may shut down early

This appears in the February 10, 2014 issue of TIME.
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