In a letter to Barack Obama on July 27, 121 American analysts and former diplomats called upon the President to make an official visit to Tunisia before the end of his term in January. While some openly request official support for Tunisia, the possible appointment of Youssef Chahed, former employee of the American embassy in Tunis, raises questions around the less overt forms of US engagement with its unique North African partner.
Secularists defeated Islamists is the verdict most commonly reported in international news outlets; Victory and defeat are relative, Tunisian journalists estimate. The politicization of the secularist-Islamist conflict throughout the Ben Ali’s tenure and the increased occurrences of religious violence after the revolution reflect a true conflict that is by no means the defining feature of the country’s democratic transition nor the 2014 elections. The ISIE’s final tally last week represents «a surprising defeat for the Islamist Nahda party» only for those who do not read beyond the titles of foreign news reports that refrain from examining the intricacies of and history behind party politics over the past four years.
Pour la plupart des signataires que nous avons pu contacter, de telles lettres adressées à leurs gouvernements ont déjà eu échos par le passé et peuvent contribuer à changer la politique étrangère américaine en Tunisie, cette dernière s’étant focalisée sur plusieurs autres fronts, délaissant « le laboratoire démocratique » qu’est la Tunisie.
The ‘open’ letter to Secretary Kerry, endorsed by and intended for US government officials, is written accordingly, in polished diplomatic terms where the return of every initiative is measured in dollars and proposed projects and investments perpetuate the image of the US abroad as a benevolent (soft) power.