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Tunisia: Why It Is Under Fire For Birthing The Arab Spring
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Tunisia is a country that is dear to me. I have spent over two years of my life in Tunisia.
I did not live where typically the Westerners would live in, I lived amongst the locals. I have been all over Tunisia and I understand that Tunisian people very well. I was married in Tunisia; I had a daughter born in Tunisia; I have very dear friends in Tunisia.
For me Tunisia is my second country. I have always felt safe in Tunisia.
Tunisia is the birthplace of the Arab Spring. The Arab Spring was an uprising that began on December 17, 2010, in the city of Sidi Bouzid, when Tarek al-Tayeb Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire to protest the confiscation of his vendor’s table. This led to nationwide demonstrations against the tyrannical government of Tunisian president Zine E Abidine Ben Ali and demanding Democracy.
This forced Ben Ali to abdicate his position and flee to Saudi Arabia.
His wife Laila Ben Ali, whose maiden name is Trebelsi, stole $50B in gold and cash from the Tunisian Central Bank and had it sent to Dubai. This theft of money has since harmed Tunisia’s economic situation significantly.
The Tunisian revolution had been seen as a success. Ben Ali declared a state of emergency and dissolved the Tunisian government on January 14, 2011. He then handed over power of a ‘temporary’ government to Mohamed Ghannouchi who at that time was the Prime Minister of Tunisia. He stepped down 6 weeks later after the elections were held but remained president of the Ennahda Party.
Due to the relatively easy success of the Tunisian Revolution, people in other countries took note and decided that they would try to change their governments as well. As a result, protests began in surrounding Arab countries such as Libya, Egypt, and Syria. Other countries took notes and made changes on their own.
As a result, Tunisia was seen as the spark of Democracy and the model of modernization for the Arab-Muslim world.
As a result, there are other entities that want to see Tunisia punished. Many Tunisians believe that France has been behind some of the attacks in Tunisia to make it look like there are Islamists there. There are videos of demonstrations with these supposed Salafis and someone comes up to one of them and pulls their fake beard off.
Another belief is that Saudi Arabia and the UAE also want to punish Tunisia for the Arab Spring. Both countries had to implement changes because their governments had temporarily been threatened by people who wanted change.
Two countries have been engulfed in Civil War because of the Arab Spring, Syria and Libya. The people in Syria wanted to force Bashir Al-Assad out of power. He is an Alawite that brutalizes Sunni Muslims like his father before him.
In order to appease the West and act like they are helping in the fight against terrorism, Bashar al-Assad said they were cracking down on the Muslim Brotherhood. What he was actually doing was this. He would send people from his military into Sunni regions and ask people who prayed five times a day. So when people said they prayed five times a day, they would line them up and kill all of them. Then they would tell the media that they killed terrorists.
Qaddafi was the president in Libya during the Arab Spring. He was forced out of power after a brief civil war. The USA gave weapons to groups opposed to Qadafi. As a result there are people that have tanks in their homes in Libya. Many of these weapons landed in the hands of ISIS. Libya actually shared an open border with Tunisia until the Tunisian government closed their border with Libya in early June 2015. This has been a point of smuggling weapons into Tunisia.
Groups like ISIS have such an extreme view of the term ‘Democracy’ believing that it is a wholly Western concept, that they also want to punish Tunisia for the Arab Spring. They have gotten their followers to view Democracy and the United States as the same and that their Arab and Muslim brothers are being slaughtered in the name of Democracy.
As a result of the Arab Spring, Tunisia has made many enemies in the region.
Tunisia is also seen as the flagship nation in the Arab world for sustainable development. Tunisia has an ambitious plan for sustainable development and for providing alternative renewable energy sources that countries from around the world are investing in the Tunisian economy. It is hoped that Tunisia can encourage other Arab countries to become sustainable.
This has created animosity as well.
Tunisia relies heavily on tourism for their economy. Tourism creates many jobs and brings an influx of capital into the Tunisian economy. Tunisians pride themselves on being generous and for treating foreigners better than they treat even Tunisians. By attacking tourists, it is a direct attack meant to cripple the Tunisian economy.
Twice in less than three months, Tunisia has been the victim of such attacks on their tourists. First at the Bardo Museum and then in Sousse. Now tourists are fleeing Tunisia by the thousands and many say they are never to return.
In order for Tunisia to continue its democratic transition, it cannot lose its tourism. Unfortunately many people are now scared to go to Tunisia. Can Tunisia survive this attack on its image and overcome?
This remains to be seen. Here is one vote believing that Tunisia will overcome.
Founder, Publisher and CEO of INSCMagazine.
Works have appeared and featured in places such as Forbes, Huffington Post, ESPN and NBC Sports to name a few. Follow me on Twitter at @RobCobb_INSC, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
View all posts by Robert D. Cobb