Tunisian Revolt: Another Soros/NED Jack-Up?

Dr. K R Bolton

“Spontaneous” demonstrations of thousands of youths pouring out into the streets with such force as to compel the flight of a long-time president… To which country are we alluding: Georgia, Serbia, Myanmar,[1] Ukraine, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Iran, Hungary…? This time it is Tunisia. All of these “revolts” followed the same pattern. Already the Tunisian revolt is being called a “color revolution” by media and political pundits, and it has also been provided with a name; the “Jasmine Revolution,”[2] like the abortive “Green” and “Saffron” Revolutions, and the successful Velvet, Rose, Orange, and Tulip Revolutions, etc.

These “color revolutions” all have a common pattern because they are all planned by the same strategists; namely the Open Society network of money speculator George Soros, who serves as a kind of modern-day Jacob Schiff in funding revolutions;[3] and the National Endowment for Democracy, the latter a post-Trotskyite founded, Congressionally-funded kind of “Comintern” promoting the “world democratic revolution” in the service of plutocracy and under the façade of liberty.

Here is a typical scenario of “color revolutions.” Check it off against the features of the “Jasmine Revolution,” and of the funding by the National Endowment for Democracy to “Tunisian activists,” as described further on:

[Soros’ Open Society Institute]… sent a 31-year-old Tbilisi activist named Giga Bokeria to Serbia to meet with members of the Otpor (Resistance) movement and learn how they used street demonstrations to topple dictator Slobodan Milosevic. Then, in the summer, Mr. Soros’s foundation paid for a return trip to Georgia by Otpor activists, who ran three-day courses teaching more than 1,000 students how to stage a peaceful revolution.[4]

Commenting on the “Velvet Revolution” that had just passed over Georgia, MacKinnon described the operations that went into play, following the same patterns as they had in other Soros targeted states[5]:

The Liberty Institute that Mr. Bokeria helped found was instrumental in organizing the street protests that eventually forced Mr. Shevardnadze to sign his resignation papers. Mr. Bokeria says it was in Belgrade that he learned the value of seizing and holding the moral high ground, and how to make use of public pressure — tactics that proved so persuasive on the streets of Tbilisi after this month’s tainted parliamentary election.

In Tbilisi, the Otpor link is seen as just one of several instances in which Mr. Soros gave the anti-Shevardnadze movement a considerable nudge: He also funded a popular opposition television station that was crucial in mobilizing support for this week’s “velvet revolution,” and he reportedly gave financial support to a youth group that led the street protests.[6]

NED and Soros work in tandem, targeting the same regimes and using the same methods. NED President Carl Gershman, in writing of the hundreds of Non-Governmental Organizations working for “regime change” throughout the world, pays particular tribute to the Ford Foundation and “the foundations established by the philanthropist George Soros.”[7]

Following the Money Trail

As the common adage goes, if you want to know who’s running things, follow the money trail. Looking at the recipients for NED grants we find the following, for 2009 (the latest available):

Al-Jahedh Forum for Free Thought (AJFFT) $131,000

To strengthen the capacity and build a democratic culture among Tunisian youth activists. AJFFT will hold discussion forums on contemporary issues related to Islam and democracy, debates between Arab scholars on societal problem, academic lectures on Islam, economic policy and international relations, and book review sessions. AJFFT will conduct leadership training workshops, support local youth cultural projects…’[8]

The purpose of this is clear enough; to create a cadre of youth activists, including ‘leadership training workshops.” Again, it is exactly the same course as the strategy used by NED and Soros in other states afflicted with “color revolutions”. Exactly the same.

Association for the Promotion of Education (APES) $27,000

To strengthen the capacity of Tunisian high school teachers to promote democratic and civic values in their classrooms. APES will conduct a training-of-trainers workshop for 10 university professors and school inspectors, and hold three two-day capacity building seminars for 120 high school teachers on pedagogical approaches rooted in democratic and civic values. Through this project, APES seeks to incorporate the values of tolerance, relativism and pluralism in Tunisia’s secondary educational system.[9]

The program seems to be for the purposes of spreading a doctrinal base for revolution; the “democratic and civic values” must be presumed to be of the post-New Left variety fostered by NED and Soros, based on values that generally run counter to the traditions of the societies where Sorsos and NED operate.

Mohamed Ali Center for Research, Studies and Training (CEMAREF) $33,500

To train a core group of Tunisian youth activists on leadership and organizational skills to encourage their involvement in public life. CEMAREF will conduct a four-day intensive training of trainers program for a core group of 10 young Tunisian civic activists on leadership and organizational skills; train 50 male and female activists aged 20 to 40 on leadership and empowered decision-making; and work with the trained activists through 50 on-site visits to their respective organizations.[10]

The terminology here is not even hidden with euphemisms: “To train a core group of Tunisian youth activists…” Might one not be justified in suspecting that the intention is to create a revolutionary youth cadre for the purposes of “regime change”, following exactly the same blueprint that has orchestrated “color revolutions” in the former Soviet bloc and elsewhere?

Given the keen interest NED has shown in Tunisia, it would seem naïve to think that the “Jasmine Revolution” is simply a “spontaneous manifestation of popular anger” and that it has not been planned well in advance, awaiting the right moment for a catalyst.

The above organizations and others have been recipients of ongoing NED grants, as the following from previous years indicates:

2006: Al-Jahedh Forum for Free Thought (AJFFT), $51,000; American Center for International Labor Solidarity, $99,026, the purposes of which were to cultivate relations with Tunisian journalists; Arab Institute for Human Rights (AIHR) $37,500, for the purposes of training a cadre of teachers in “civic values;” Committee for the Respect of Freedom and Human Rights in Tunisia (CRLDH) $70,000, to advocate amnesty for political prisoners; and

Mohamed Ali Center for Research, Studies and Training (CEMAREF) $39,500

To train 50 young Tunisian male and female civic activists, aged 20 to 40, on leadership skills. The organization will conduct five four-day workshops, each for ten activists, on leadership skills including decision making, time management, conflict resolution, problem solving, and communication. CEMAREF will follow up the training with site visits to the trainees’ respective groups in order to evaluate the trainees.[11]

2007: AJFFT received $45,000. The Arab Institute for Human Rights received $43,900 to train teachers in their so-called “civic values” ideology, focusing on primary schools and training school inspectors. The Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) received $175, 818 to inculcate free enterprise doctrines among Tunisian businessmen, which reflects what NED is really aiming for in its promotion of “democracy and civil values”: globalization. The aforementioned Mohamed Ali Center for Research, Studies, and Training received $38,500 in 2007. Also that year:

Moroccan Organization for Human Rights (OMDH) $60,000

To strengthen a group of young Tunisian attorneys as they mobilize citizens on reform issues. OMDH will train a group of 20 Tunisian lawyers on civil mobilization, and supervise and mentor them as they implement their own mobilization projects.[12]

2008: Al-Jahedh Forum for Free Thought received $57,000; Center for International Private Enterprise, $163,205; Centre Mohamed Ali de Reserches d’Etudes et de Formation, $37,800; Tunisian Arab Civitas Institute, $43,000, aimed at training teachers on the NED ideologies of “civic values.” [13]

Does the language need to be any plainer? NED has promoted in Tunisia as elsewhere around the world a revolutionary cadre based on youth and professionals for the overthrow of a regime that is seen as an anomaly in the “new world order.” While the regimes that are targeted might be thoroughly reprehensible, the rhetoric about “democracy”, “civic values” and “open societies” expounded by NED, Soros and their myriad of agents and institutions around the world is just so much propagandistic humbug designed, as is generally the case in such circumstances, to deflect attention away from the real causes and aims of the “spontaneous uprisings.” Commentators are already noting the impetus for the “spontaneous revolt” provided by “civil society organizations”, which is a euphemism for precisely the organizations sponsored by NED and Soros: “…In this way, a broad coalition of civil society organizations has connected bread-and-butter employment grievances with fundamental human rights and rule-of-law concerns….”[14]

The “color revolutions” owe much to the patronage given to anti-regime communications networks, providing support for radio and television stations, as in the example mentions above in regard to Georgia. The part in Tunisia seems to have been enacted by Radio Kalima. “International Media Support” states of this, which after police raids in January 2009, began operating outside Tunisia, quoting the radio’s Editor-in-Chief, Sihem Bensedrine:

Funding support from International Media Support and Open Society Institute has also allowed us to pay our journalists and maintain a stable team. This in turn makes our radio more powerful, more efficient.[15]

Manipulating Dissent

Using the masses to promote moneyed interests is nothing new. Obvious examples of “bourgeois revolutions” perpetrated in the name of the humble folk include the English Cromwellian and the French revolutions. Oswald Spengler traces the phenomenon as far back as ancient Rome:

The concepts of Liberalism and Socialism are set in effective motion only by money. It was the Equites, the big-money party, which made Tiberius Gracchu’s popular movement possible at all; and as soon as that part of the reforms that was advantageous to themselves had been successfully legalized, they withdrew and the movement collapsed.[16]

The “New Left” served the same purposes during the 1960s and 1970s, and followed a similar pattern to that of today’s “color revolutions” and other programs sponsored by Soros, NED, et al. Such “rebels” against “The Establishment,” including feminist luminary Gloria Steinem,[17] and psychedelic guru, Timothy Leary,[18] were lickspittles of the CIA and backed by wealthy patrons from the start. The rampaging radical students of the 1960s were manipulated by interests similar to those that today sponsor the “spontaneous demonstrators” of the “color revolutions;” beginning with the CIA-funded US National Student Association[19] and including the SDS-affiliated, Ford Foundation funded Students for a Restructured University.[20] If “The Establishment” funded its supposedly sworn enemies as part of an exercise in dialectical manipulation decades ago, and the sources are easily checked, there’s nothing surprising about the present-day global manipulation of similar ideas and similar people by similar interests.

National Endowment for Democracy

The National Endowment for Democracy was founded in 1983 at the prompting of post-Trotskyite activist Tom Kahn, and exists under the patronage of the US Congress and Big Business, to promote the “world revolution” that was the common ideal of Trotsky and his contemporary President Woodrow Wilson. NED describes its program of “democratic initiatives” (sic) as operating in Poland (through the trade union Solidarity), Chile, Nicaragua, Eastern Europe (to aid in the democratic transition following the demise of the Soviet bloc), South Africa, Burma, China, Tibet, North Korea and the Balkans. “Serbia’s electoral breakthrough in the fall of 2000″ was achieved by supporting “a number of civic groups.” “More recently, following 9/11 and the NED Board’s adoption of its third strategic document, special funding has been provided for countries with substantial Muslim populations in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia.”[21]

At least ten of the twenty-two directors of NED are also members of the plutocratic think tank, the Council on Foreign Relations,[22] including CFR program directors. For example, Carl Gershman, founder and president of NED, is listed as a member of the Washington Programs Committee of the CFR Board.[23] Among CFR members on the NED staff are: Nadia Diuk, Vice President, Programs – Africa, Central Europe and Eurasia, Latin America and the Caribbean; and Louisa Greve, Vice President, Programs – Asia, Middle East & North Africa, and Multiregional, CFR Term Member Roundtable on U.S. National Security – New Threats in a Changing World.[24]

US Response

While some enthusiasts for the “open society” have lamented the USA’s apparent lack of action in critiquing the former president of Tunisia, Ben Ali, what is played out – or not played out – on the world stage, is generally a very pale reflection of events taking place behind-the-scenes. The US Establishment certainly showed no sympathy for Ben Ali at the crucial moment.

The Project on Middle East Democracy, another think tank dedicated to showing how nations should govern themselves “the American way,” states of the reaction of US officialdom that Michael Posner, Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, in response to a question of a reporter from Egypt’s AlMasry AlYoum newspaper,

…discussed the violence in Egypt and Tunisia and how the U.S. could effectively deal with governments who claim outside criticism as “interference.”… The U.S., he said, operates a multi-track policy with countries like Egypt and Tunisia in order to both deal effectively with their governments and support elements of civil society in those countries. [Elliott] Abrams responded that the U.S. should instead have a one-track policy with countries like Egypt and Tunisia where there are definitive consequences for leaders who ignore calls for reform and to respect human rights. By pursuing current policies, these governments know that they are “getting away with it” and will continue to stall reform efforts and repress dissent.[25]

Elliott Abrams, quoted above, will be recalled as one of the neo-con globalists in the George W Bush Administration as national security adviser for Middle East affairs, who was gung-ho about “regime change” with the use of American bombs and troops, when the manipulation of street mobs didn’t work. Now Council on Foreign Relations Senior Fellow of Middle East Studies, as one would expect, Abrams is an enthusiast for the idealistic happenings in Tunisia,[26] with the prospect of another US-client state emerging from the idealistic actions of “useful idiots.” Meanwhile, as the hapless Ben Ali was about to fall, Hillary Clinton was saying to the Middle East that Washington would “not take sides,” but then promptly lectured Arab states as to what America expected of them, The Christian Science Monitor observing that Ben Ali was gone the next day. “Not taking sides” was immediately followed by Clinton, another of the CFR planners, stating that President Obama hailed the “courage and dignity of the Tunisian people,” and said the United States joined the rest of the world in “bearing witness to this brave and determined struggle…” The report makes it clear that Clinton was “warning” (sic) Middle Eastern leaders to heed the revolt in Tunisia, otherwise they could expect the same. “Clinton’s words on Thursday echoed the often even-tougher views of US officials behind the scenes…”

“Those who cling to the status quo may be able to hold back the full impact of their countries’ problems for a little while, but not forever,” Clinton said. Those words turned out to be prophetic for Tunisia’s Ben Ali, but they were interpreted by a number of regional specialists as particularly applicable to Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak – a staunch friend of the US but an octogenarian who has ruled for almost 30 years.[27]

It seems a paradox that those who disparage the US invasions of states such as Serbia and Iraq to impose “regime change” by force of arms, are nonetheless enthused by “regime change” in the interests of American global hegemony when it is undertaken by youths and professionals manipulated to achieve the same result via “spontaneous protest”‘ (sic). The “color revolutions” are about as bogus as their predecessors of the “New Left.” Of course, whether such regime change is desirable depends on one’s perspective. In the long-term, dialectically it could be that in the name of “democracy”, like the French revolutionary slogan of “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity,” and the Bolshevik slogan of “All Power to the Soviets,” and the other one about “All Animals Are Equal…”, this is another step in the path towards a greater tyranny than those that are being overthrown.


[1] Open Society Institute, The Burma Network, SE Asia Initiative. http://soros.org/initiatives/bpsai/about

[2] For example: “A Successful Jasmine Revolution, but what next for Tunisia?”, New Statesman, January 15, 2011.

[3] Robert Cowley, “A Year in Hell,” America and Russia: A Century and a Half of Dramatic Encounters, ed. Oliver Jensen (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1962), pp. 92- 121.Schiff, senior partner of Kuhn Loeb and Co., funded George Kennan to revolutionize 50,000 Russian POWs in Japan during the Russo-Japanese War, and provided further support for the 1917 Revolution.

[4] M McKinnon, “Georgia revolt carried mark of Soros”, Globe & Mail, November 26, 2003, http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20031126.wxsoros1126/BNStory/Front/

[5] Soros’ Internet Access & Training Program (IATP) was established as a front for “creating future leaders” in Belarus, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. In Serbia, Otpor was funded. The prize was Trepca in Kosovo, a vast reserve of gold, silver, lead, zinc and cadmium.

In a New Statesman article Neil Clark stated that Soros had a “crucial role” in the collapse of the Soviet bloc. As far back as 1979 Soros gave millions to Solidarity in Poland, Charter 77 in Czechoslovakia, and in 1984 set up his OSI in Hungary where he “pumped millions of dollars into opposition movements.” “Ostensibly aimed at building a ‘civil society’, these initiatives were designed to weaken the existing political structures and pave the way for Eastern Europe’s eventual colonisation by global capital.” Neil Clark, “Soros toppled governments in Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary,” New Statesman, 2 June 2003.

[6] M MacKinnon, op.cit.

[7] Carl Gershman, “Building a Worldwide Movement for Democracy: The Role of Non-Governmental Organizations”, U.S. Foreign Policy Agenda, Vol. 8, No. 1, August 2003. NED: http://www.ned.org/about/board/meet-our-president/archived-remarks-and-presentations/080103

[8] National Endowment for Democracy, 2009 Grants: http://www.ned.org/where-we-work/middle-east-and-northern-africa/tunisia

[9] Ibid.

[10] Ibid.

[11] National Endowment for Democracy, 2006 Grants: http://www.ned.org/publications/annual-reports/2006-annual-report/middle-east-and-northern-africa/description-of-2006-13

[12] National Endowment for Democracy, 2007 Grants: http://www.ned.org/publications/annual-reports/2007-annual-report/middle-east-and-northern-africa/description-of-2007-13

[13]National Endowment for Democracy, 2008: http://www.ned.org/publications/annual-reports/2008-annual-report/middle-east-and-northern-africa/2008-grants/tunisia

[14] Christopher Alexander, “Tunisia’s Protest Wave: Where it comes form and what it means,” January 3, 2011, Council on Foreign Relations, Foreign Policy, http://mideast.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2011/01/02/tunisia_s_protest_wave_where_it_comes_from_and_what_it_means_for_ben_ali

[15] Tunisia’s only independent radio station fights back,” International Media Support, http://www.i-m-s.dk/article/tunisia%E2%80%99s-only-independent-radio-station-fights-back

[16] Oswald Spengler, The Decline of The West, 1918, 1926. (London : George Allen & Unwin , 1971), Vol. 2, p. 402.

[17] “Gloria Steinem and the CIA: C.I.A. Subsidized Festival Trips: Hundreds of Students Were Sent to World Gatherings,” The New York Times, 21 February 1967. http://www.namebase.org/steinem.html

[18] Mark Riebling, “Tinker, Tailor, Stoner, Spy, Was Timothy Leary a CIA Agent? Was JFK the ‘Manchurian Candidate’? Was the Sixties Revolution Really a Government Plot?,” Osprey, 1994, http://home.dti.net/lawserv/leary.html

[19] Sol Stern: “A Short Account of International Student Politics and the Cold War with Particular Reference to the NSA, CIA, etc,” Ramparts, March 1967, pp. 29-38.

Also: Philip Agee Jr., “CIA Infiltration of Student Groups: The National Student Association Scandal”, Campus Watch, Fall 1991, pp. 12-13, http://www.cia-on-campus.org/nsa/nsa2.html

[20] Mike Marqusee, “1968 The mysterious chemistry of social change”, Red Pepper, 6 April 2008,

[21] David Lowe, ‘Idea to Reality: NED at 25: Reauthorization’, National Endowment for Democracy: http://www.ned.org/about/history

[22] For an official, but informative history of the CFR see: Peter Grose, Continuing The Inquiry: The Council on Foreign Relations from 1921 to 1996 (CFR, 1996), http://www.cfr.org/about/history/cfr/

[23] “Committees of the Board 1998-1999”, CFR, http://www.cfr.org/content/about/annual_report/ar_1999/100-101committees.pdf (Accessed 8 March 2010).

[24] “Staff,”NED, http://www.ned.org/about/staff (Accessed 7 March 2010). Only a few of the staff profiles are provided by NED.

[25] “POMED Notes: Freedom in the World 2011: The Authoritarian Challenge to Democracy,” http://pomed.org/blog/2011/01/pomed-notes-freedom-in-the-world-2011-the-authoritarian-challenge-to-democracy.html/

[26] Elliot Abrams, “Is Tunisia Next?”, CFR, http://blogs.cfr.org/abrams/2011/01/07/is-tunisia-next/ January 7, 2011.

[27] “Events in Tunisia bear out Hillary Clinton’s warning to Arab world,” Christian Science Monitor, January 14, 2011, http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Foreign-Policy/2011/0114/Events-in-Tunisia-bear-out-Hillary-Clinton-s-warning-to-Arab-world