Anonymous Tunisia

Following and reading through the Hamadi Jebali email dump that was leaked this past Saturday has been like searching for a needle in a haystack. The dump, released by a group affiliated with the hacker collective Anonymous, contains close to 2,725 emails from Jebali’s Ennahda secretary general email account (which had a gmail.com domain). The party has since condemned the hacking of the account.

The emails cover a wide range of topics, from internal debates and discussions, external affairs and negotiations with NGOs, to menial daily tasks delegated to various Ennahda staff members. Ticket and itinerary confirmations, invoices, and notes were also sent as attachments in a large portion of the emails.

What and who emerges as the clear victor of this leak, however, is Ennahda itself. More than anything else, the leak reveals the incredible level of organization that the party implements in its internal procedure and strategy. In one email, an attached document contained the minutes of a meeting held with UTICA, the Tunisian business bureau, and members of the Tunisian Jewish community. The minutes indicate that, “Jebali joined the meeting 10 minutes late, and he apologized for the delay.” A few points to make about the inclusion of this statement in the minutes: 1. Hamadi Jebali was only 10 minutes late to the meeting, 2. He excused himself for doing so, 3. It was included in the report.

In Tunisia, no other party enjoys a similar level of organization. Plenty of emails contained press reviews, which are diffused on a daily basis, and round-ups – categorized by subject, date, public figure, etc. Most round-ups included PDFs of scanned articles. One press review was a collection of any and all articles of the day that discuss specificities about the “Mustafa Ben Jaafer (assembly speaker) and Ennahda” relationship.

The emails also reveal the party’s roadmap in drafting the constitution. While the contents of the roadmap are more or less consistent with the public party line, the date the email was sent on is much more revelatory of the inner workings of Ennahda: February 22, 2012. The attached document was also the party’s second version (v0.2). In other words, the party has most likely been working for months before releasing the first version, let alone the second. Do the math: party members probably started strategizing and creating first drafts right after the October 23rd elections – possibly even before.

Only three days after the constituent assembly elections, the emails reveal that Ennahda started preparing for training sessions for the newly elected representatives – the first session of which was held on November 9th. The trainings went over the “art of talking to media” and how to carry oneself as an assembly member – “communication, attitude, and the look”!

The Islamist party shares several relationships with non profits around the world, particularly Islamist / Muslim organizations in Western countries. For instance, the Canadian Muslim Forum invited Jebali to meet Brian Todd, a Canadian representative, on January 30, 2012, and the United Ulama Council of South Africa sent the party leadership a congratulatory letter following the constituent assembly elections. The Federation of Islamic Organisations in Europe also sent PM Jebali a letter on December 26, 2011, congratulating Ennahda on the ministerial positions it now runs. Given the sheer volume of invitations, letters, and common correspondence with high level civil society figures, the party appears to command a lot of respect from countless organizations around the world.

Besides non-profits, the leaks also reveal a high level of communication with security analysts, organizations, and companies. In early September, Jebali appears to have met with representatives from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) – a regional security organization that specializes in, amongst other things, post-conflict rehabilitation and democratization. While Tunisia is not a member state of the organization, the country enjoys a “special relation” status.

Several emails shed light on the challenges encountered by many ministerial administrations. The National Institute of Administration and Communication, for example, sent the PM an email on November 25, 2011, titled, “For the love of God, save us.” In the email, an employees representative of the institute, which is housed under the Ministry of Education, claims that the institute’s leadership suffers from dire corruption and calls for the institute’s director – “a symbol of the former regime” – to be removed.

One aspect of the leaks that cannot be ignored is the level of academic contributions the party receives. Reports, surveys, and studies are added to the party’s repertoire of strategic resources several times a week. Only a few weeks following the elections, the party received an email containing a full report of the electoral results and analysis of the Tunisian partisan terrain. Ennahda members from the around the world email Jebali and other high ranking figures in the political party reference documents – such as an email containing the Jordanian, Lebanese, and French constitutions, and another email with a Word attachment of a Wikipedia entry of “Canadian Law Enforcement,” sent in an effort to help guide the “restructuration of the Tunisian police forces.”

On a lighter note, a funnier aspect of the leaks is that while viewing the list of recipients on the emails, you see that some Ennahda members-turned-ministers still use Hotmail and Yahoo! email accounts. Here’s another moment that may have caused a few laughs here and there: PM Jebali sent off his CV to the Turkish embassy on September 9, 2011 – for what reason, we don’t know –  and is met with a: “merci j’attends celui de Cheikh GHANNOUCHI [Thanks, I await Cheikh Ghannouchi’s CV].”

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