This is a blog dedicated to a personal interpretation of political news of the day. I attempt to be as knowledgeable as possible before commenting and committing my thoughts to a day's communication.

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Tunisian Past and Future

"Thus far, there has been no exact empirical record made of the jihadi combat groups operating in Jebal Chaambi, in southern Tunisia, but also in urban zones near the coast. With the exception of the "Uqba Ibn Nafi'-Brigade", little is known about their exact area of operation, their combat strength or the nationalities represented by their members. Apart from their nebulous advocacy of an Islamic state, just as little is known about their concrete objectives. Some of the cells operate autonomously, others have links with AQIM or direct associations with al-Qaida. Since July 2014, a number of individual cells have thrown their weight behind the IS cause."

Still from a video released by "al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb" showing militants on the streets of Gao, Mali, June 2012 (photo: AFP/Getty Images)
Cross-border Islamist terrorism: a still from a video released by "al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb" showing militants on the streets of Gao, Mali, in June 2012. "The best-known AQIM combat unit is the 'Uqba ibn Nafi'-Brigade', which operates in western Tunisia and which also carried out the Bardo Museum attack," writes Hanspeter Mattes

If there was one country that represented the very model of modernist Arab civility and secularism, it would have been Tunisia, even as it was under its corrupt, disgraced and removed leader President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, hated for his corruption and replaced through the first rehearsal of the famed and faulted Arab Spring with a coalition government including 'moderate' Islamists which eventually gave way to a more Tunisian-traditional secularist government.

Tunisia was a country where Western dress presented as the common garb, where social and official disregard and even lack of regard for female head covering so prevalent elsewhere, demonstrated its Western outlook and comfort with European values. Since its revolution the country has been assailed with a flood of Islamist fundamentalist attacks, to the point where the state is threatened. "If such incidents happen again, the state will collapse", stated Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi, declaring a state of emergency, on Saturday.
The recent high-profile attack on the Bardo National Museum in Tunis shines a spotlight on the radical Islamist network that has emerged in Tunisia since the fall of the Ben Ali regime. An analysis by Hanspeter Mattes of the GIGA Institute for Middle East Studies

Tunisia has expressed an unwilling social, political and security change in its culture, from a modern Westernized state to a country now under siege. For awhile after its initiating Arab Spring its character as a stable country where violence and Islamic extremism was absent gained it admiration for the way in which Tunisians were able to gather their determination and their social-political resources toward the normalcy of its traditional social contract.

But spillover from the division, the violence and the Islamist extremism expressed in the jihad assailing Libya has had its impact on Tunisia, even as the left in Tunisia remains in contact with its moderate Islamists and it's institutes of civil society through human rights, commerce, law and organized labour continue to set it aside from its neighbours. As does it's ethnic and religious homogeneity.

But the once stable and secure country is beginning to groan under the weighted violence of jihadist forces exploiting Tunisia's reliance on foreign tourism, damaging the state and its reputation among foreigners as a safe and savoury place to visit. Just as Islamists have launched attacks on tourists in Egypt and in Algeria for the deliberate purpose of destabilizing those countries' tourism enterprises, Tunisia has been similarly targeted.

Worse, it would appear, seems yet set to surface.

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