Friday, March 08, 2013

Tunisia's dilemmas

How Tunisia is Turning Into a Salafist Battleground tells how Gulf money is undermining Tunisia's democracy and promoting Islamist radicalism instead.

The article Tunisia's Post-Revolution Blues outlines the problematic state of Tunisia's revolution. The economy is bad. The writing of the constitution takes forever and the main political streams - Ennahda and the liberals - are at loggerheads and fear and distrust each other.

Springtime for Salafists tells many stories of Salafist violence in Tunisia.

Tunisia Now Exporting “Jihadis”: On Mar. 29, local sources reported that between 6,000 and 10,000 men have left the country, while the Algerian press say the number could be closer to 12,000. Families tell IPS the self-proclaimed jihadists leave in secret, often under cover of darkness, and change their names en route so that Facebook and internet searches yield no results. They believe mosques and charity organisations serve as fronts for this “recruitment” process.

Most families who spoke to IPS were too afraid to give their names, fearing reprisals. They suspect powerful and wealthy interests have a hand in the smuggling of fighters, since some families have received as much as 4,000 dollars in “payment” for each jihadi recruit. Those who spoke to IPS under condition of anonymity believe the recruiters themselves also receive a fee. Many denounced the government for allowing this “business” in human lives to thrive. A local journalist who has been investigating the process, but did not want to be identified by name, told IPS the government almost certainly makes money off this racket as well. Experts believe Ennahda leader Rachid Ghannouchi’s statement, issued through the Ministry of Religion, that “we don’t suggest young people leave… but we have no right to prevent them” is tantamount to an admission that the government has no plans to put a stop to the practice, or apprehend those involved.

Still a low way to go for Tunisian democracy: The attack of the US embassy in Tunis last 14th September, the lynching soon afterwards of an member of Nidha Tunes, Lotfi Naguedh, the attack by Nahda militias of the trades union headquarters in Tunis last November, the torching of sixty Sufi shrines – zaouias – and the murder of Chokri Belaid cast serious doubts about Nahda’s real intentions, all the more as the culprits are seldom brought to trial. [..] The grand mufti of Tunisia has recently spoken out - adding his voice to many Tunisians who object to mosques being used to recruit young men to fight in Syria and Mali. [..] what is new is that the ministry of the interior has dismantled five networks which specialised in sending young Tunisians to Syria, via Libya and is cracking down on others. An important military operation, coordinated with 9000 Algerian troops is currently trying to dislodge well entrenched jihadi fighters from the Djebel Chaambi region near the Algerian border.
in one of the more incisive analysis of the Arab revolts, Le Peuple Veut [..], Gilbert Achcar argues that the Tunisian Islamists, as Islamist elsewhere hold a “magical view” of how to govern a country: in particular they chose to believe that the success of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) in Turkey results from its founders overtly religious posturing rather than hard socioeconomics facts.
It is also worth noting that ministers have very little power: their chef de cabinet, the key directors in each ministry and the heads of state companies which come under their authority are now appointed by the prime minister. Until January 2011, that was a prerogative of the head of state.
the downfall of Ben Ali. This was, according to a book, which reads like a thriller and is authored by two exceptionally well informed Tunisians, the result of a coup within the security apparatus not, as some observers choose to believe some western plot.

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