As much as Tunisia’s initial, post-independence, political transition was influenced by the extent and nature of economic support from the West, the success of the country’s waning post-revolution «democratic transition» is significantly impacted by the same US and EU powers. A misnomer that diminishes the scope and complexity of international alliances and enmities that it encompasses, the Arab-Israeli conflict bears greatly upon Tunisia’s relations with Western democracies, the primary prospective investors and financial backers of political transition in Tunisia for the past half century.
It is perhaps owing to the urgency of his message, the grave threats that political instability in Libya and regional terrorism pose to Tunisia’s political climate in these next three months, the potential dissipation of a democratic alliance in the MENA region, the very straightforward request for military training and equipment, and more specifically twelve Black Hawk helicopters, that Marzouki’s appeal has been so widely diffused across US and international media outlets.
What is pertinent to note is that Marzouki’s request is the precipitous disbursal of materials that the US has already promised Tunisia.
As hightened political instability in Libya threatens to permeate the region, Tunisian media and political figures are preoccupied with issues at the borders and beyond, whereas few are looking inward to the geographical, social, economic factors associated with terrorism.
The adoption of a charter signifying convergence on the ‘rules of the game,’ is precisely the sort of written agreement recommended by the International Crisis Group for continued, limited consensus that distinguishes healthy political party competition from enmity spurred by the prioritization of personal/partisan gain and power.
On the island of Djerba–where, «close to hotels, under the beautiful palms, on the beaches and surrounding the white houses, putrid piles of garbage pollute the air, the water, the land, and the lives of residents»–the local population may soon benefit from the construction of a new desalination plant that promises abundant, pure, sea-sourced desalinated drinking water.
Plusieurs études viennent démontrer, aujourd’hui, la position qu’occupe la démocratie tunisienne par rapport à l’ensemble des pays de ce monde. En effet, prenant en compte plusieurs indicateurs, Le « Good Country Index » (l’indice des bons pays) et le « Fragile States index » (l’indice des pays fragiles) situent différemment la place occupée par la démocratie tunisienne au sein du monde.
In Tunisia, there is a great deal of skepticism regarding the competency and «responsible governance» of the interim government in juxtaposition with Tunisia’s international image as the ‘sole democracy in the Arab world’ as citizens sense that technocrats and politicians are incapable of rising above their own political and electoral trajectories to synchronise a unified, coordinated national response to aggression that is tantamount to a Palestinian holocaust.
Several comparative studies featuring Tunisia have recently caught our attention at Nawaat, and here we reflect on them conjunctively in the context of a sort of comparative examination of our own. The Good Country Index passes as the most engaging for its pragmatic persective and reassuring assertion that the index is one alternative perspective that is to be considered in conjunction other indices and analyses; the Fragile States Index is mildly interesting without presenting any strikingly revelatory insight, while two articles from The Economist that examine the so-called Arab World are flagrantly devoid of research- and critical thinking-based material for relevant, constructive discussion.
The interim government’s approach to addressing terrorism is a continual source of public discontentment, and heightened security issues have directly influenced citizenry’s reticence to participate in political processes, according to several La Presse and Nawaat reports. On the same day that the Ministry of National Defense reported on the Jebel Ouergha explosion, the High Independent Authority for Elections (ISIE) announced the markedly low turnout for voter registration.
Even consequential economic woes pale slightly as the announcement of fixed election dates has solidified the finite temporality of transition, the imminent fork in the road and the uncertainty of the path towards which the ‘consensus’-driven country is steering—that of gradual progression through reform or stagnancy and gradual regression?
In contrast to what one hears on the streets about the dirth of natural resources that little Tunisia has to offer in the way of access to the global market, the cropping-up of press releases and studies in foreign press over the past decade or so intimate the titillation of petro-oil companies at prospects of investing in gas and oil exploration and production in the democratically-inclined ‘bright spot’ of the Arab World.
In light of the implication of the Tunisian Ministry of Industry, Energy, and Mines and the Tunisian National Oil Company in the mismanagement of natural resources, the notorious association of oil companies worldwide for politicization and economic corruption, and the immensity of intended exploration and production activities in the south of the country, the Gazoduc-Nawara project demands public attention.
Two recent articles from The International Business Times (New York) and Index on Censorship (a London-based organization that works to «protect freedom of expression around the world») resonate with the skepticism in publications from Tunisian media outlets and pose questions pertinent to national controversies that embody the challenges of post-revolution social and political transition.
Lawyers, academics, politicians, civil society, more than one-hundred fifty organizations, Tunisians and internationals were part of the movement to FreeAzyz Amami and Sabri Ben Mlouka: democratic transition demands that the misuse of judicial power inherent in police state be replaced by the precedence of an independent justice.
That the Mesh Sayada case study has been presented in the context of US surveillance operatives is relevant to one discussion but is meanwhile a superficial and imprecise presentation of the project for citizens who participated in its development and to whom it belongs. The mesh network was not brought to Sayada; it was built in Sayada as a locally-devised, collaboratively-implemented initiative to promote Open Source and Open Data principles.
Citizens, politicians, analysts, and union members expecting concrete decisions and well-elaborated intitiatives in Jomâa’s press conference last Wednesday felt either marked disappointment or resignation to the Prime Minister’s consistently long-winded and half-hearted commitments to real reform.
If its delivery is distinctive, the overwhelming message from public figures and ordinary citizens is the same: the gravity of the economic crisis—whether the exacerbated image of a political media campaign or an accurate portrayal of the country’s disequilibrium— is such that the Prime Minister has been called upon to transcend the drawn-out bickering of a politicized National Economic Dialogue, to take actions in measure with the severity of the situation that he has expounded in his discourse and communication with Tunisia and the international community, to devise a roadmap that sets out long-term, sweeping structural reforms.
In spite of being a national heritage site in plain view of the shores of Berges du Lac in Tunisia’s capital, the islet has never been officially open to Tunisians. Needless to say it is newsworthy—though curiously not in Tunisian media—that the recent completion of a study signals the imminent opening of the forgotten island to the public.