Causes and Grounds for Political Crisis in Tunisia, Its Prospects

2021/08/03 | interview, political, top news

Strategic Council Online - An expert on Africa affairs, explaining the causes and grounds for the recent public protests and political developments in Tunisia, said: On the one hand, the people of that country are disappointed with the management and efficiency of the parties, and on the other hand, there are concerns about the return of the dictatorship.

Dr. Peyman Jebelli, former Iran ambassador in Tunisia, speaking in an interview with the website of the Strategic Council on Foreign Relations, referred to the unrest in Tunisia, removal of the prime minister, and dissolution of parliament in that country and noted: After the Tunisian revolution in 2010 none of the political parties that emerged in the post-revolutionary period, as well as the parties that operated in that country in the past, could achieve a brilliant record in solving problems of the people, especially the economic, livelihood, social and specific problems of the youth.

Causes and grounds for unrest in Tunisia

Saying that all parties had contributed to the power structure in the past 10 years and that Tunisian society had witnessed their inefficiency and poor management, he added: In addition to the economic and livelihood problems, as well as the employment situation, especially employment of educated youth, which is very critical, the poor management of the Tunisian government in managing Covid-19 crisis has been further exacerbated and the death toll has risen sharply in recent weeks.

The Africa affairs expert referred to the demonstrations of the Tunisian people and their demand for the dissolution of the parliament and resignation of the government, and continued: The current president, who defeated Tunisia’s leading candidates in the elections two years ago and won the popular vote, has been a new phenomenon in those two years, with parliament and majority parties including the Islamist Ennahda and Heart of Tunisia parties have lined up and recruited in front of the president.

Jebelli said: The majority parties in the parliament, with special support for the prime minister, tried to make him dependent on them. Contrary to some legal procedures, the prime minister marginalized the president in electing or even dismissing some ministers. In this conflict, the deterioration of the president’s relations with the prime minister and the parliament increased day by day. With the protests that have taken place in recent weeks, the wave of public dissatisfaction with the parliament, parties and government of Mr. Al-Mashishi has provided Mr. Qais Saeed with the best opportunity to exercise his legal authority.

He added: The dismissal of the prime minister, the suspension of the work of the parliament for a month, the lifting of immunity from members of parliament and the removal of some ministers are measures that Mr. Qais Saeed believes are in accordance with Article 80 of the Constitution. Opponents of the move, which mainly include the Ennahda movement and several other parties, have called the move unconstitutional and called it a coup; because they believe that the president at the same time has taken control of all three powers and, in addition, has the army and security forces under his control; so this is a kind of return to the dictatorship that the Tunisian revolution took place to counter it.

At the same time, Jebelli said: Mr. Qais Saeed believes that 10 years of party rule has only increased political-administrative corruption, deteriorated social, economic and living conditions of the people and the failure of the governments of the past 10 years and something revolutionary must be done and with the dismissal of all officials and political disputes, the problems of the people should be addressed.

Scenarios facing Tunisia

Regarding the scenarios facing Tunisia, given the socio-political situation in that country, he said: It is possible that the parliament and its majority may retreat in the face of the measures taken by Mr. Qais Saeed, accept the dismissals and enter into national talks. The president may also step down and enter into national talks with the parties by accepting Mr. Al-Mashishi as prime minister. The third scenario is the discussion of the coup and the entry of the army into the scene. Of course, other scenarios can be considered; but those said seem to be the main scenarios, each with its own consequences.

Explaining the consequences of those scenarios, which will lead to an increase or decrease in the power of the president, parties and the prime minister, Jebelli explained: The role of the army is very important in the current situation, which has taken the side of the president so far. In addition, active civil society organizations play a very important role in Tunisia and in 2015, four civil society organizations, the trade unions, the chambers of commerce, the Bar Association and the Tunisian Human Rights Committee, mediated the political crisis in the government! In the current situation, they have been silent so far and have reacted gently to the president’s decisions.

Soft positions and silence of European countries

He reminded: If the situation does not change, it means a big test that Mr. Qais Saeed has been its winner; but if any of those factors change, the situation will change. At the same time, it seems that European countries are reluctant to intervene in this situation and have taken a mild stance and remained silent in the face of those events.

Expressing concern over return of dictatorship in Tunisia

The analyst of the Middle East and Africa affairs, referring to the warnings issued by some political figures in Tunisia, as well as international organizations and various countries, regarding the occurrence of violence and continuation of the crisis in Tunisia, said: Mr. Rached Ghannouchi, one of the leaders of the Tunisian revolution, has expressed concern; because the Tunisian revolution was a response to the authoritarian closed space, and one of the currents that suffered the most during that period was the Ennahda movement.

Jebelli added: But on the other hand, the conditions created by those parties, especially the Ennahda movement, are not defensible, and the society, in frustration with the parties, has turned towards one person and a large segment of the society become supporter of Mr. Qais Saeed’s decisions. In practice, it seems, the space is shifting towards accumulation of power in his hands, and concerns about the return of dictatorship are not unreasonable.

He described another mistake of Ennahda as not trying to accompany Qais Saeed and said: Mr. Saeed’s personal characteristics, type of thinking and inclinations had the capacity for Ennahda to be able to accompany him, but unfortunately this process, somehow led him to Egypt, France, Italy and other foreign countries and opposing Ennahda. This criticism is directed at Mr. Ghannouchi and his party, and some of the problems of the people today are their responsibility. With their false pride, they did not allow themselves to approach the president.

Direction of foreign intervention in Tunisia

The Middle East and Africa analyst also referred to reports that some Arab countries in the region were making financial promises to the Tunisian president to carry out a coup, and on foreign intervention in the country said: The very important element of the deal is the Islamist Ennahda; a radical and militant movement that at one point in contemporary history, Ben Ali, labeled them as mercenaries and supporters of the Islamic Revolution and tried, imprisoned and exiled them.

Jebelli emphasized: This tendency and its record has never been welcomed by the West and will not be taken and will not be supported. On the other hand, in the Arab region and the reactionary Arab states, which see the Brotherhood’s political Islam as a threat, do not like the rise of the Ennahda; therefore, in this equation, there is the possibility that some Arab and Western countries, through their enmity with political Islam, help the opponents of Ennahda so that there will be no such thing as Ennahda in Tunisia.

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