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Political meddling may lead to the Tunisian revolution being killed off

July 20, 2020 at 4:17 pm

People come together during the Tunisian Revolution that took place in January 2011 [Chris Belsten/Flickr]

Tunisia’s Jasmine Revolution was the icon of the Arab Spring that put some spirit in the Arab countries having been clinically dead for many years. The people rose up in Egypt, Libya, Yemen and Syria against oppressive rulers and tyrants, overthrowing them all except Bashar Al-Assad in Syria, who continues to fight, saved by Russia’s Tsar.

The revolutions were followed by the counterrevolutions led by the UAE and Saudi Arabia, under Zionist auspices. They feared that the winds of revolution would affect their own thrones allowing their people to breathe the fragrant air of freedom.

However, the Arab Spring countries did not enjoy stability, nor have they been left to enjoy the fruits of their revolutions. The noble goals of freedom, dignity and social justice have been denied to them, as they were drowned in a sea of blood.

It was thought that Tunisia had escaped from the malicious counterrevolutionary plots, despite their relentless efforts to sow the seeds of chaos in the country, the assassination of politicians Chokri Belaid and Mohamed Brahmi, and the obstruction of the political process so as not to be a model for the Arab countries. The UAE spent billions of dollars in order to reproduce the ousted regime, through figures affiliated with the former dictator, and prevented revolutionary figures affiliated with the opposition from being in office, as happened with Moncef Marzouki, who was the first president in the Arab world to be elected democratically.

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However, the counterrevolutionary forces penetrated Tunisian politics and polluted the political environment with corrupt money and logistical support for some parties from which, unfortunately, they were able to buy loyalty. They also managed to buy well-known media organisations and figures in order to topple Marzouki. He recently accused the UAE of destabilising the Arab Spring countries, saying that Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Zayed is responsible for destroying the revolutionary process; that he had tried to destroy it in Tunisia and is trying to do so in Libya. This, he added, is well known in the region.

So they toppled Marzouki and supported the new President, Beji Caid Essebsi, thinking that he would restore the fascist regime of the ousted Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and suppress freedoms, thus ending the effects of the revolution. Despite some reservations about his presidency, and some of the decisions and laws that he issued, such as the inheritance law, I must admit that he did not seek to please the UAE and did not do what was asked of him in terms of eradicating the Ennahda movement. Nor did he drag the country into the chaos that the UAE and its allies wanted. Instead, he contributed to the stability of Tunisia throughout his term of office. He also maintained the democratic path in Tunisia and handed over to the elected President Kais Saied, who was not to the UAE’s liking either, as the government in Abu Dhabi supported the former Minister of Defence Abdel Karim Al-Zubaidi, who has faced financial corruption charges.

The counterrevolution did not succeed in getting the army on its side and work on a military coup; it remained neutral. Therefore, the UAE used industrial action to cause chaos in Tunisia, forcing the army to take action to regain control. It also sought to disrupt the presidential, legislative and executive institutions, but was again disappointed in the effort to bury the Tunisian revolution.

The current crisis in Tunisia has seen a vote of no confidence in the Elyes Fakhfakh government and its involvement in major corruption cases ever since he was Minister of Finance. He had formed his government on the basis of an anti-corruption campaign. This was followed by the immaturity of dismissing Ennahda ministers from the caretaker government in retaliation because it was the movement that revealed his corruption.

This crisis is due to the results of the legislative elections that were very inharmonious. Despite all the expectations of forming a coalition government, on the basis of the revolutionary partnership between Ennahda, the People’s Movement and the Democratic Current party, the partisan conflicts and narrow interests of the parties cost Habib Jemli’s government the endorsement of Parliament. After the parties of the Democratic Bloc insisted on preventing Ennahda from choosing its candidate as the constitution stipulates, and after the crisis worsened, they reluctantly agreed to form a fragile government led by Fakhfakh, who is Saied’s choice, despite his lack of general popularity.

The political conflict and complexity of the crisis was made worse by the calls for the dissolution of Parliament, along with a demonisation campaign against Ennahda which targeted its leader, Rashid Ghannouchi, and challenged his financial responsibility. The campaign also used the spectre of political Islam to intimidate people.

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Some domestic political parties have fuelled this campaign. They are the parties which lost in the election and are affected by the political reform process. Those benefitting from the campaign are a part of the old regime. The Free Destourian Party and its snake oil leader, Abir Moussi, spearheaded the disruption of democracy, along with the extreme left which rejects democracy as well as the other forces standing against the success of the Tunisian experience.

From the first day that Parliament was convened, Moussi worked to disrupt the political path and show that democracy will not succeed in the Arab world, because it will bring radical Islamists to power. She is backed by the UAE and, similar to the Tamarod campaign in Egypt, is sponsored and funded by the Emirates. Moussi has formed an operations room of Tunisian personalities known to be close to the UAE in order to strike at the democratic transition in Tunisia, hand power to a military figure as happened in Egypt, eliminate the revolution completely and suppress the Islamists.

The Tunisian president has warned against attempts to destabilise and destroy the country from within by parties he did not name but which are plotting with foreigners against Tunisia’s national security. He also warned against the efforts to involve the army in political battles.

Now that the government has been sacked and, as a form of political deception, some of the parliamentary blocs have submitted a petition to withdraw confidence from the President of Parliament, which means an ongoing tug of war between political forces. This deepens the roots of the crisis in the political structure as a whole and foretells the dire consequences planned by hostile forces for the nascent, unique Tunisian experience in the region. It is both sad and unfortunate that some parties affiliated with the revolution are helping these forces to do this, just because of ideological differences with the larger party, Ennahda, which was also the case in Egypt with opposition to the Muslim Brotherhood.

The Egyptians lost their revolution because of hatred for the Brotherhood, which won all of the elections. I fear that the Jasmine Revolution will be lost just as Egypt’s January Revolution was lost. The democratic experience in Tunisia, despite its fragility, is a light in the darkness of politics in the Arab world. I hope that it is not extinguished.

Tunisia’s Ennahda to withdraw confidence from government

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.