Tunisia is known as the epi center of antigovernmental protests that ignited the Arab Spring in North Africa and West Asia in 2011. The Youth took to the streets against the autocratic government and unemployment whilst the government responded by choking their voices. Tunisia was the only successful model of Powershift and democracy which survived after the Arab Uprising. While other Arab countries had fallen into civil war or survived the revolution and remained in the hands of dictators. This last stronghold of freedom and democracy is now facing a enormous economic and political crisis.
The Current Crisis began with the antigovernment protests due to the economic fall-out and medical mismanagement in handling of the Covid-19 and it heightened with the dissolution of Tunisian parliament by Kais Saied, the Tunisian President. On 25 July 2021, Tunisian president Kais Saied dismissed Prime Minster Hichem Mechichi and grabbed power referring to the article 80 of the Tunisian constitution. Kais Saied also dismissed the Minister of Defence Ibrahim Baltaji and Minister of Justice Hasna bin Salimane. Many opposition politicians were also jailed.
Ennahda Movement branded it as an attempt of coup and dangerous for democracy, which was the result of the Jasmine Revolution. Rached Ghannouchi, speaker of the parliament and the leader of the Ennahda Movement appealed to his cadres to take to the streets in opposition.
The country is going in a wrong direction and there are lots of changes in politics and the economy. Since the Arab Spring, Tunisia could not have a stable government. Arab spring changed the dynamics of middle eastern and north African countries. Ennahda was ruling the country with the coalition of other parties but due to its Islamic nature, it faced a lot of opposition within the community from its very first day. Due to many factions and ideologies, Tunisia could not have a strong constitution.
Corruption is one of the biggest challenges since 2011 and it has created hardships for the economy that is already struggling against inflation.
The Covid-19 period created a human catastrophe for Tunisia. In the early phase, the country controlled the situation but later on it slipped into chaos. Due to covid-19, the economy went crashing down and industries were shut down. 80% of the industries decreased their production and needed government funds but the government did not have sufficient funds. Unemployment rose and inflation increased. Market prices rocketed and people can hardly earn their bread and butter.
Tourism sector was one of the most prominent contributors to the Tunisian economy. It contributes 10% to the country’s GDP. This sector was badly hit after the ISIS attack and almost collapsed after the Covid-19 pandemic. All these factors led the country to this challenging situation and forced people to come out of their homes to demonstrate against the failures of Ennahda.
Foreign actors are also pushing the country towards an alarming situation and supporting Kais Saied. UAE along with Egypt has a major hand in the current crisis rising in Tunisia. UAE has kept to an is anti-Muslim Brotherhood policies and feels a direct threat to its dictatorship from any democratic government in the region especially led by Muslim Brotherhood offshoots.
It has played a major role in the Libyan civil war and supported Rebel Khalifa Hafter with military assets and wealth against Fayez al-Sarraj government due to its relations with the Muslim brotherhood. Libyan Government forces confiscated armed vehicles in the anti-Hafter Operation that were gifted by UAE. UAE also supported Egyptian Army General Abdul Fattah Al-Sisi who made a coup against the democratically elected president Mohammad Morsi.
It is a matter of fact that Ennahda could not fulfill public demands and deliver on the goal of Arab spring but the political crisis that is going on in Tunisia is far more alarming. The country is heading towards autocracy from where it moved on after the Arab Uprising. It is not assured that autocracy will fulfill the needs of common people, but it will surely suppress voices of dissent. Kais Saied named Najla Bouden as the prime minister of Tunisia to gain the support of capitalist countries.
The best solution for the crisis lies only in national dialogue and peaceful transfer of power if needed. If democracy fails, the youth may be inspired towards militancy as a large number of Tunisian youths went to Iraq joining ISIS after its emergence. European Countries along with USA are disoriented with regards to the ongoing crisis and are unable to make their stand clear. They cannot let a democratic country led by Islamists, flourish in their neighborhood nor can they can take the risk of militancy after the collapse of democracy. Considering the geo-political significance of the country, this would not be good neither for the country nor for the region.