Tunisia unrest in the capital (January 2011 a
Tunisia unrest in the capital (January 2011 a Israel news photo: courtesy VOA Photo/L. Brya

The nation that gave birth to the Jasmine Revolution and ignited the region-wide Arab Spring has just extended its state of emergency for the rest of the year. In at least four Arab countries so far, long-time national leaders have been toppled from power, with several others still fighting to remain.

The monarch in Tunisia's North African neighbor, Morocco, managed to escape the worst of it with new elections that resulted in a complete turnover in government and the establishment of a new constitution.

No reason was offered by government officials for the decision, which follows the country's first national parliamentary elections since the fall of Tunisia's former President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, who fled on January 14.

Interim President Fouad Mebazza signed the decree Tuesday, the fourth such extension enacted since the initial uprising Tuesday, according to Tunisia's state news agency.

High unemployment, economic hardship and the ongoing power struggle between radical Muslim extremists and the more moderate elements in the population have all contributed to periodic clashes throughout the year.

In addition, Libyan refugees fleeing the violence in their own country have crossed the border into the nearby Tunisian island of Djerba, further complicating the social fabric in that region. Among those who have settled in the area are a number of high-ranking former Libyan government officials.