Opinion

Tunisia... the last nail in the coffin of extremism?

July 30, 2021
Tunisia... the last nail in the coffin of extremism?
Rami Al-Khalifa Al-Ali



IN a surprise move, though it was not completely unexpected, Tunisian President Kais Saied exercised his powers to impose exceptional measures in response to what he deemed a threat to the Tunisian state and society. The move was prompted by the recent developments that swept Tunisia in the form of massive protests against deteriorating economic conditions, the state of rampant corruption in the country, and the disastrous fallout of the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.

Perhaps the question that everyone, whether political forces or specialists, experts and analysts, is trying to answer is divided into two parts. The first is, is there a solid reason to take such measures? The second question is whether these procedures are enough to bring about the required change?

Let us leave aside the question about the constitutionality of the procedures, regarding which a controversy is still raging. Even if we see that the issue is political and national rather than legal and constitutional, we will leave it to the specialists to talk about this legal issue.

The Tunisian people have gone through 10 lean years when the Ennahda movement (the Tunisian arm of the Muslim Brotherhood) formulated the political system according to its vision, and at that time it was the only party prepared to assume power from a political and organizational point of view when the late President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was overthrown.

The Brotherhood movement took out its might on the street while other political movements were groping their way under extremely complicated circumstances, and this is what allowed the Ennahda movement to formulate the Tunisian political system in a way serving its own interests.


It goes without saying that the founding period witnessed other political movements, including that of former President Moncef Marzouki and former Parliament Speaker Mustafa Bin Jaafar, but Ennahda took advantage of the opportunism of these political figures to get what it wants, and that is to write a constitution, which suits its vision and interests. And when Ennahda finished this mission, it was the first to turn against these opportunists and began to ally with the late President Beji Caid Essebsi, the statesman, to bow to the storm of popular rejection and put a historical figure in the forefront.

The subsequent phase, represented by Ennahda, failed to realize the hopes and aspirations of the Tunisian people. On the contrary, extremist and terrorist ideologies flourished, thanks to Ennahda’s tolerant approach toward them, and Tunisia began to export terrorist groups to the entire Arab world. As for the administrative, economic, health, and judicial aspects, they witnessed failure after failure. But the worst that Ennahda and its allies and partners have produced was a sterile political system, incapable of bringing any achievements, and mostly centered on narrow personal and partisan interests. The real crisis is that this political system failed to reform itself through the mechanisms it took to bring about change. So drastic measures capable of changing the scene were necessary and this is what President Qais Saeed is trying to do.

As to whether the measures taken by President Said are enough to bring about the required change, the answer for this lies in how he would draw up plans for it in the coming days. If the Tunisian president is able to move quickly to build a political structure that meets the demands of the Tunisian people, then the people would stand by the president. But they cannot wait long without seeing a roadmap to take them out of bleak situations.

May God protect Tunisia from all evils. As for the Ennahda movement, its decline will represent an important building block in the fight against extremism and terrorism that afflicted the region and made it a scourge.


July 30, 2021
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