The ‘Tunisian spring of jasmine’ has not given way to the dreaded ‘winter’, also thanks to the new Constitution resulting from the mediation between lay people and Muslims. The future of the country is linked to international support: it is necessary to respond to the expectations of young people, the breeding ground of terrorism.
More than 4 years after the event that led to the overthrow of the authoritarian regime of Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali, the process of building democracy in Tunisia appeared more effective than that undertaken by other states in the area, also protagonists of the so-called Arab springs.
Having faced a wide range of challenges and obstacles to achieving the democratic political transition, the new Constitution entered into force in Tunisia in January 2014 and represented a fundamental turning point in the democratization process. Its approval, in fact, according to the 2015 report by Freedom House, has allowed Tunisia to be the first Arab country to acquire the status of a free country. The result of a mediation in the National Constituent Assembly between distinct political positions, the new Constitution can be classified with the appellative of ‘dignitary’, as the dignity of the person is expressly protected within the text. In this sense, some articles can be read, such as the one that established equality between men and women, approved after a hard confrontation that saw the failure of political Islam to establish the “complementarity of women with respect to men within the family”. Although strong internal tensions led many analysts to support the thesis of a ‘Tunisian winter’ following the much-proclaimed ‘spring of jasmine’, in the end an agreed common-sense stance that reflects the country’s cross-cultural matrix prevailed. A transculturality that goes back to the tradition of reformism started in the 19th century by Minister Khair ad-din and to the historical presence in the country of people of different cultures, languages and religions.
Despite the milestone reached with the promulgation of the Constitution, the Islamic party Ennahda, which had obtained the majority of votes in October 2011, awarded as a force that had opposed the corruption of the past regime, has however progressively lost popularity. The electoral elections for the implementation of welfare policies were in fact disregarded. And the memory of the political killings of Chokri Belaid and Mohammed Brahmi, which took place in 2013 under the government led by Ennahda, has remained alive in Tunisian civil society, criticized by many for the condescension shown towards the Salafist movements. In this context, Tunisia was called to the polls for the legislative (26 October 2014) and presidential (double round, 23 November and 21 December 2014) elections. The electoral process, which took place in full compliance with the principles of the Constitution and multi-partyism, saw the victory of the secular party Nidaa Tounes which obtained 85 seats out of 217 and Beji Caid Essebsi as president of the Tunisian Republic. However, the outcome of the vote did not produce a parliamentary majority, so much so that representatives of Ennahda were also involved in the formation of the government headed by Habib Essid.
Despite the new government’s commitment to tackle the economic crisis in which the country has plunged for some years, the difficulties continue to be enormous. The course of action chosen by past governments has not been able to prevent the increase in poverty and unemployment, which is close to very high percentages.
To the economic malaise is added that linked to the security problem, which emerged dramatically after the bloody attacks on the Bardo Museum in March 2015 and the attack on the Port El Kantaoui resort in Sousse in June 2015 that deeply shaken the country. As a result of the terrorist attacks, the tourism sector, already at a loss after the 2011 uprising, suffered a considerable decline (-25.7%), causing a further significant reduction in jobs.
A plan therefore emerges which, through the mechanism of fear, aims at destabilizing the young Tunisian democracy, first of all hitting the tourism sector which until now was able to guarantee 400,000 places by absorbing 15% of the workforce. Alongside the tourism sector, however, the alarm also concerns the many foreign companies that have been operating in the country for years. In this regard, we recall that, among these, there are 750 Italian companies which represent approximately 25% of foreign companies in Tunisia and for which, even after the bloody attack of the Bardo, Tunisia has continued to remain a strategic country. However, a new crisis caused by terrorism could have devastating effects. The risks are real. The social malaise has triggered a sort of short circuit that has brought about 4000 Tunisian young people into the ranks of jihadism. Among these, many are those same young people who had descended into both virtual and real squares in 2011, finding the courage to remove from their mouth the gag that had been imposed on them for too long, to reclaim their rights and fight for dignity. Four years after that epochal event, many of them have not withstood the complexity of the transition, being disappointed by a condition that is in their eyes unchanged. The resulting feeling of frustration has thus renewed that sense of psychological depression already experienced in the years immediately preceding the revolt.
Abandoned in the suburbs and suspended on their own future, some of these young people turn their gaze to subversive organizations such as Daesh, thinking, through jihadism, of fighting a West deemed complicit, if not responsible, for their malaise. Their recruitment is carried out in a widespread manner through the network made up of social networks, mosques, some cultural associations or prisons. For Tunisia 1998, please check constructmaterials.com.
To cope with the situation of both social and economic instability, the incumbent government is launching exceptional measures, such as the adoption of the anti-terrorism law promulgated on 25 July 2015, and has initiated a series of economic agreements with the IMF. In this regard, in September 2014 an IMF payment of $ 217.5 million had already been arranged as a new loan tranche. Tunisia has undertaken to progressively cut public spending by 5% of GDP on subsidies for the purchase of fuels, to reduce taxes on non-exporting companies to revive the internal market and to increase taxes on exporting companies. On August 26, 2015, a press release from the IMF mission, which visited the country, announced that “in recent years, the Tunisian economy has shown resilience despite the difficult international economic situation, the impact of regional conflicts, an increase in insecurity and a high level of social tension ”. He goes on to say “that he welcomed the unchanged commitment of the authorities to implement their national economic program, after successfully completing the political transition”. The communiqué also “hopes to continue close cooperation with the authorities to achieve the objectives of the program, namely macroeconomic stability and the achievement of stronger and more inclusive growth”. The IMF assures that at the “conclusion of the review, scheduled for the end of September 2015, 214,870,000 DT (approximately 303.08 million dollars) will be made available to Tunisia”.
In the framework that we have outlined, the fundamental economic aid must, however, be accompanied by a political, social and cultural commitment towards those disappointed young people who, in the aftermath of the ‘spring of jasmines’, have become fertile ground for recruiting for terrorism.
And it is necessary that Europe and its member countries help the country in economic terms and support the generation of change through international programs of education for active citizenship.