Wikileaks Criticized for Driving Tunisian Uprising

By: Qichen Zhang on 16 January 2011
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This week, Libyan President Muammar Qaddafi pointed toward Wikileaks as the main instigator of the recent Tunisian riots that started a month ago. According to New York Magazine, Qaddafi believed that the whistle-blowing website released cables were supported by American ambassadors hoping to add fuel to the already growing fire of the mostly violent movement. Referring to the cable that called Tunisian President Ben Ali's family a "quasi-mafia," the Libyan dictator voiced his concerns about the violence in the country in a speech on Saturday night, including the following support for Ben Ali:

"I am concerned for the people of Tunisia, whose sons are dying every day. And for what? In order to have someone to become president instead of Ben Ali?"

But U.S. Department representative P.J. Crowley rejected this claim outright on Twitter today, tweeting:

"Tunisia is not a Wiki revolution. The Tunisian people knew about corruption long ago. They alone are the catalysts of this unfolding drama."

Some aren't so quick to agree with Crowley, however. For example, op-ed writer Jeremy Ruden wrote on The Jerusalem Post that the WikiLeaks cables definitely played a role in the continued rioting in Tunisia, mentioning that some believe that the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad is responsible for the WikiLeaks plot.

Regardless of the cause, street rioting continues to plague the capital of Tunisia. In a televised speech, Ben Ali addressed the Tunisian people in exile in Saudi Arabia, where he fled with his family:

"I have understood you. I have understood the demands about unemployment, the demands about necessities, and the political demands for more freedoms."

For more information, visit Tunisia's Country Profile.