Showing posts with label Tunisia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Tunisia. Show all posts

July 26, 2021

What Authority Does The President Have Under Article 80 Of The 2014 Constitution Of Tunisia?

    Monday, July 26, 2021   No comments


On July 25, the president of Tunisia, Kais Saied, cited article 80 of the ratified 2014 constitution to declare a national emergency. The presidential order suspended the parliament for 30 days, dismissed the prime minister, and lifted immunity on parliamentarians. Here is a translation of the article that the president is relying on to justify and enforce his declaration.


Article 80 * Emergency provisions

In the event of imminent danger threatening the nation’s institutions or the security or independence of the country, and hampering the normal functioning of the state, the President of the Republic may take any measures necessitated by the exceptional circumstances, after consultation with the Head of Government and the Speaker of the Assembly of the Representatives of the People and informing the President of the Constitutional Court. The President shall announce the measures in a statement to the people. The measures shall guarantee, as soon as possible, a return to the normal functioning of state institutions and services. The Assembly of the Representatives of the People shall be deemed to be in a state of continuous session throughout such a period. In this situation, the President of the Republic cannot dissolve the Assembly of the Representatives of the People and a motion of censure against the government cannot...

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December 7, 2016

Is Qatar training Egyptian fighters in Idlib, Syria?

    Wednesday, December 07, 2016   No comments
Qatar’s global media outlet, Aljazeera, reported that 200 Egyptian military officers and experts are now in Syria. The report, is based on a Lebanese source, came days after the Egyptian president, Abdulfattah al-Sisi, in an interview to Portuguese media, said that he supported the Syrian national army in its war on terrorists. This seemingly new position has angered the Gulf States, especially Saudi Arabia and Qatar, who back the Syrian opposition fighters and have been pushing for the removal of the Syrian president Bashar al-Assad.

Some sources, however, have also revealed that Qatar is training Egyptian Islamists in Idlib, Syria. This revelation could explain the increased collaboration between the Syrian and Egyptian governments. Egypt, like Syria, has been battling Salafi and other Islamist militants. If these elements are being trained in Syria and supported by Qatar, Egypt will be forced to collaborate with the Syrian and Libyan governments who are facing the same threats. 

Fath al-Sham, formerly known as al-Nusra front, which is backed by Qatar, controls Idlib, and has released multiple videos showing individuals engaged in war games, with indication that some of these fighters are not training for the war in Syria, which could support the assertion that Idlib is turning into training grounds for fighters from other countries, including Egypt, China, Tunisia, France, and Algeria.

It should be noted also that when al-Julani, the leader of al-Nusra, announced the name change of his group's name into Jabhat Fath al-Sham, sitting next to him was a known Egyptian Salafist, another reason for Egypt to be concerned about the role of Qatar in supporting groups that might pose a security threat to Egypt.

 al-Julani, announcing the name change of al-Nusra Front

May 25, 2016

#IslamicSocietiesReview : The end of political Islam starts in Tunisia

    Wednesday, May 25, 2016   No comments
#IslamicSocietiesReview Comment:  
Adjusting to domestic, regional, and international challenges, Ennahda, the leading Islamist movement in North Africa, charted a new path that embraces pluralism and co-existence. Recalling that the rise of political Islam was necessitated by tyranny and oppression, Ennahda, now, embraces politics and honors Islam, but not mix them. Its leadership has chosen to distinguish between the ethical/theological and the political. In doing so, Ennahda has all but repudiated the actions taken by the Muslim Brotherhood which wanted to dominate the political and social life in Egypt. Realizing the enormity of the transition, Ennahda opted to re-elect its founder, Rached al-Ghannouchi, president one more time. Should he manage to keep the movement united and prevent it from bleeding members to militant Salafi groups, Ennahda would be a model for Arab countries' religious movements.
Underscoring these challenges, Ghannounchi delivered a key address to the movements' members; below is the original speech and a translation.

July 30, 2015

Beyond terrorism: Sousse attack, economic development, fair trade, and dignity

    Thursday, July 30, 2015   No comments
by Ahmed E. Souaiaia*

The intent of those who planned and carried out the recent terrorist attack in Tunisia and the reactions to it, both underscore the idiosyncratic connections between economic development and terrorism. Importantly, the attack ought to remind us of the global nature and imperatives, not only of ISIL’s brand of terrorism, but also of economic development. Both problems, terrorism and lack of economic development in the Global South, must be confronted cooperatively, because European countries were indeed involved, directly and indirectly, in creating the kind of conditions that weaken their southern neighbors’ economies, which in turn have created the kind of environment most suitable for terrorism.

Zakaria Hamad
When 30 British citizens vacationing in the city of Sousse, Tunisia, were killed along with three Irish, two Germans, one Belgian, one Portuguese, and one Russian, the Foreign Office ordered all but essential travelers to leave that country immediately. Habib Essid, Tunisia’s Prime Minister, said that his government would help to evacuate approximately 3,000 Britons, but told Tunisia’s parliament that he was “dismayed by the advice from the Foreign Office.” The Tunisian government said the UK “was damaging the country’s economy,” which is heavily reliant on tourism, and may end up inadvertently fueling poverty and therefore terrorism. Oliver Miles, a former UK ambassador to Libya and Greece “found the [UK]’s response puzzling.” Other commentators and international affairs analysts contended that Britain was “wrong to bring tourists home” because it would weaken the only true emerging democracy in that part of the world.

June 4, 2015

Will the rulers of Saudi Arabia, and perhaps other GCC, fall and why?

    Thursday, June 04, 2015   No comments

Saudi rulers use war on Yemen to remain relevant
The war on Yemen removed the last fig leaf and exposed the tools and advantages the rulers of Saudi Arabia have used for nearly a century to control its population and project power and influence outside the kingdom’s border. The first tool is the strategic alliance with the United States that shielded it from any criticism in international forums and protected it against foreign threats in return for steady flow of cheap energy. The second tool is a brand of interpretation of Islam, Wahhabism, which allowed the rulers to enjoy absolute power over the institutions of the state as long as Wahhabism was allowed to use the instruments of the state to project itself as the purest form of Sunni Islam.

December 23, 2014

“This is What the Arab Spring Looks Like”

    Tuesday, December 23, 2014   No comments

Tunisia’s transition to representative governance brings hope to Arab Societies

Four days after the fourth anniversary of the spark that ignited the fury of protests widely known as the Arab Spring, Tunisian voters reminded the world about what the Arab Spring is supposed to look like. The election of a new president this week capped four years of hard work that involved politicians and leaders of civil society institutions. In four years, Tunisians elected a constituency assembly primarily tasked with forming a transitional government and writing a new constitution. Those goals, despite many setbacks, were finally achieved. In the past three months, Tunisian voters elected a parliament, narrowed the field of presidential candidates (of more than 24 candidates) during a first round of presidential elections, and finally chose Beji Caid Essebsi, giving him 55% of their vote over the interim president, Mohamed Mouncef Marzouki.

February 8, 2014

How different are the new constitutions of Tunisia and Egypt?

    Saturday, February 08, 2014   No comments

How different are the new constitutions of Tunisia and Egypt?

The two countries transformed first by the Arab Spring now have new constitutions. The two countries are similar in many ways. Yet, the processes of producing their respective constitutions and the substance of each document point to the forces that made these legal documents similar in some areas and different in others. In both cases, it took more than two years to reach this point, underscoring the difficulty the drafters of the two documents have faced.

Notably, the Tunisian constitution was drafted by an elected body (Constitutional Assembly), whereas the current version of the Egyptian constitution was “edited” by an appointed committee after the deposition of the post-revolution (elected) president Mohamed Morsi. The Egyptian constitution, however, was endorsed by Egyptian voters, while the Tunisian constitution was adopted once it was endorsed by the majority of the members of the Constitutional Assembly.

January 14, 2014

Tunisia’s Ennahda movement, perhaps learning from the crises of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and AKP in Turkey, compromises to remain relevant

    Tuesday, January 14, 2014   No comments

On January 14, Tunisians will celebrate their revolution, which ignited a wave of protest that swept most of the Arab world. For this third anniversary, the Salvation Front, representing key leaders from political parties and civil society, gave the Tunisian people and the Arab masses a set of rare gifts: another peaceful transfer of power, a new constitution that protects the life and dignity of all Tunisians, and roadmap to a stable future.

January 13, 2014

English Translation of the Tunisian Draft Constitution (post revolution)

    Monday, January 13, 2014   No comments
The Tunisian National Constituent Assembly issued a draft constitution on Dec. 14, 2012. Civil society representatives in six of Tunisia's 24 municipalities met with assembly members to discuss the text later that month. The National Constituent Assembly launched the initiative with the United Nations to "enhance citizens' participation in the debate." The following is a non-official English translation of the draft constitution by the United Nations Development Programme project in Tunisia.

The June 1, 2013 Draft Constitution (Arabic; view online) is also available in PDF format. Approved Constitution of the Republic of Tunisia of January 26, 2014.

In the Name of Allah, the Merciful, the Compassionate

July 15, 2013

International leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood meet in Turkey to strategize for the crisis in Egypt and to plan for the future

    Monday, July 15, 2013   No comments

Middle East Politics Reshuffle: The Future of Islam in the public sphere

by Ahmed E. Souaiaia*

Ghannouchi to take a major role in Muslim Brotherhood International
The overthrow of the Muslim Brotherhood’s government in Egypt on July 3rd, 2013 forced the group’s international leaders to rethink the movements options. This weekend, they gathered in Turkey. The meetings were closed to the public. The limited information that leaked out suggest that the Muslim Brotherhood International is not about to change its overall strategy or replace its aging leaders. Instead, they embraced the old guard again, in a sign that they are not about to look to the youth to transition to the new century. They elected Rached Ghannouchi, who presided over the Tunisian Islamist movement for over 32 years, to lead the political bureau. Looking forward, the movement’s leaders seem interested in limiting the damage of their fall in Egypt, not in renewing its thinking. There is no indication that they are looking at the Arab Spring in its proper context.

July 8, 2013

Islam and democracy

    Monday, July 08, 2013   No comments
Tunisia at a crossroads 
by Genevieve Theodorakis*

A primary driver of the Tunisian revolution was the unanimous call for freedom of expression and mass participation in national politics. With the demise of the Ben Ali regime, Tunisians hoped their liberation would remove controls on freedom of speech and freedom of the press and further expand women’s rights. In theory, journalists were freed up to share information, unhampered by fear of imprisonment or the harassment that characterised press censorship under Ben Ali, while newly empowered citizens exercised their right to vote in Tunisia’s first democratic elections. However, after recent developments, not only are Tunisia’s newfound liberties under threat, but rights previously enjoyed for decades are being eroded in the process.

June 2, 2013

A Turkish Spring even if different from the Arab Spring

    Sunday, June 02, 2013   No comments

by Ahmed E. Souaiaia*

The wide-spreading protest movement in Turkey is bringing up the irresistible analogy: Taksim Square is for Turkey what Tahrir Square is for Egypt. Considering that Tahrir Square events were the extension of the protest movement that started it all from Tunisia, it follows that the turmoil in Turkey is similar to the so-called Arab Spring. But most observers and media analysts are dismissing Taksim Square movement arguing that Turkey’s uprising is not similar to the Arab Spring because Erdoğan and his party are democratically elected and that Erdoğan has governed over a period of unprecedented economic prosperity.

May 23, 2013

Tunisia’s security syndrome

    Thursday, May 23, 2013   No comments
By Noureddine Jebnoun*

On May 19, the Tunisian government banned Ansar al- Sharia (Supporters of Sharia), a Salafist group, claiming to be jihadist, from holding its third annual rally in Kairouan – a city located 114 miles south-central of Tunis and which houses the mosque of the general Uqba Ibn Nafa‘a, the “conqueror of Africa” around 670 AD. The “battle of Kairouan”, heavily publicized by the Tunisian media did not occur, despite several clashes between the police and citizens of the same city who protested against the overwhelming police presence as well as the intrusion of the FEMEN movement activist Amina. Her sudden appearance in the city allegedly sought to disrupt Ansar al-Sharia’s congress, ended provoking the sensitivity of the locals while she wrote “FEMEN” on the wall of the graveyard next to the Uqba mosque.

April 4, 2013

The origins and evolution of the Grinch that derailed the Arab Spring

    Thursday, April 04, 2013   No comments
The Pakistanization  of Turkey and the Afghanization of Syria in the new proxy-war

by Ahmed E. Souaiaia*

Witnessing the first democratic elections in Tunisia in 2011, I stood at the edge of the city listening to residents explaining the role of “neighborhood watch committees” in keeping peace and protecting personal and public property. I listened as my interlocutors told me stories of new connections emerging to create tighter relations between neighbors to face unprecedented violence and loss of security. On a rotating basis, residents, carrying wooden sticks, stood guard at the main intersection separating one neighborhood from another. To them, safety developed a new meaning. Without thinking of the American context (gun control debate) for my question, I asked if they would have felt safer if they had guns instead of sticks and brooms while guarding their families and properties. Without hesitation, one of the people accompanying me stated that he is alive because people did not have guns.  

On February 26 (2013), the Tunisian government announced that three suspects in the  murder of Chokri Belaid had been arrested and that authorities were searching for the person who shot the victim. Ali Laraydh, the current prime minister, stated that “extremist Islamists [islamiyyun mutashddidun] code name for takfiri fighters, were behind the murder. This formal accusation confirms what many Tunisians had said even before the assassination:  Takfiris are behind the violence and unless they are restrained they will continue to use violence to intimidate and eliminate those who criticize them and oppose their interpretation of Islam.

January 18, 2013

News Analysis: Is France now fighting the same kind of groups it armed and assisted in Libya?

    Friday, January 18, 2013   No comments

It may be a long while before we know the details about France’s sudden intervention in Mali. After all, Mali’s armed forces lost control of parts of the country many years ago. Mali’s political leaders have asked for help many months ago. Yet, suddenly, France, with little warning, launched an aerial bombing campaign to push back armed Salafi groups, Ansar al-Din, who were seen (by satellite and surveillance airplanes) rapidly moving south, possibly towards the capital, Bamako. When the bombing failed to dislodge the Ansar, France decided to insert ground troops which would mean that this intervention will be a long one.

The surprise intervention might have a military value, but it also risked the lives of many civilians since it did not give governments any time to upgrade security around vulnerable facilities. The workers taken hostage in Algeria is just one example.

December 10, 2012

News & Analysis: Arab Spring 2.0

    Monday, December 10, 2012   No comments
In the last two weeks, violent protests have taken place in the two countries that started the Arab Spring: Tunisia and Egypt. In Tunisia, protesters paralyzed the province of Siliana. Like Sidi Bouzid, where Elbouazizi sparked the Tunisian revolution, Siliana has many grievances. But protests quickly spread to other cities including the capital, Tunis. The Tunisian government is now mulling a reshuffle.

In Egypt, over two weeks ago, President Mohammed Morsi announced a constitutional decree that was seen by many as a power grab in the absence of an elected parliament and a ratified new constitution. Opposition forces returned to Tahrir Square demanding that he rolls back his decisions. He reacted by hastily scheduling a referendum on a new constitution drafted by a body dominated by Islamists. Yesterday, he gave the military police powers authorizing it to arrest civilians during the December 15 vote.

December 4, 2012

News analysis: The Arab Spring, contradictions, and state sovereignty

    Tuesday, December 04, 2012   No comments

Late last month, the leader of Ennahdha movement of Tunisia, Rached Ghannouchi started a world tour. He delivered several lectures and was interviewed by western media. In one of these interviews, he declared  that "the Arab world is going through a transition phase which needs coalitions to govern, which brings together Islamist and secular trends… but… There's a true way that Islam represents the common ground for everyone ... Eventually Islam becomes a reference point for everyone," he said. He went on to say that he expects “the victory of the Syrian revolution, reforms in more than one Arab country, particularly in the Gulf region." When Reuters’ journalists pressed him for more specifics, he cited Kuwait, Bahrain and Qatar.

These statements angered the Gulf Region leaders. On December 4, the secretary general of the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of The Gulf (GCC) issued a terse rebuke of Ghannouchi accusing him of “unacceptable interference in the internal affairs of members’ states of the GCC.”  Ghannounchi’s office issued a statement claiming that the Islamist’s comments were taken out of context and that Ghannounchi did not mean to interfere.

At the same time this was going on, the Saudi foreign minister held another news conference about Syria accusing the world of indifference towards the Syrian people's plight and insisting that his country will continue to support the opposition until Assad and his regime are ousted from power. Saudi Arabia has insisted on many occasions that it will do whatever is necessary, including supplying opposition groups with arms, to overthrow Assad.

These contradictions and double standard (Gulf states interfering but not allowing others to do the same) are some of the byproducts of the Arab Awakening which exposed the weakness and fears of Arab rulers. It also exposes the weakness of the emerging regimes of the changed countries like Tunisia. On the one hand, Tunisia finds itself morally inclined to support popular uprisings that are demanding change. On the other hand, Ennahdha leaders are eager to keep good relations with dictatorial rulers in the Gulf region to secure much needed investments to rebuild ailing economies. In the case of Tunisia, the contradiction is even more pronounced given the fact that Saudi Arabia offered refuge to the former Tunisian dictator, Zine Elabidine Ben Ali, and continues to refuse to hand him over despite the fact that he was charged and convicted of several crimes.


September 22, 2012

Why is the U.S.-Islamic world relation so fragile?

    Saturday, September 22, 2012   No comments
by Ahmed E. Souaiaia*

Muslims around the world
President Obama offered renewed hope when he promised to usher in an era of mutual respect with the Islamic world. To jumpstart this new era, President Obama addressed Muslims in two key speeches: one delivered in Turkey, the last seat of the Sunni Islamic caliphate, and the other in Cairo, the last seat of the Shiite Fatimid caliphate. Then two critical events brought all those efforts to a halt.

First, the U.S. administration failed to help the Palestinians and Israelis make progress towards a peaceful resolution of their 64-year old conflict. In fact, the failure was multifaceted. The administration neither abandoned its involvement nor pushed the two parties harder to enter into serious negotiations. Instead, without principle or vision, it engaged the two parties selectively which frustrated Arab leaders, Palestinians, and Israelis alike. For example, when the Palestinians complained that the Israeli government is violating international law by continuing its settlement activities on occupied land, the administration agreed and called on Prime Minister Netanyahu to freeze these activities and restart peace talks on the basis of the 1967 boarders. Netanyahu rudely challenged that proposal in a speech before a joint session of U.S. Congress, telling Obama that the 67 border is indefensible. He then continued to build more homes on Palestinian lands.

June 5, 2012

What is behind Saudi Arabia’s uncharacteristic aggressiveness?

    Tuesday, June 05, 2012   No comments

Until before Cablegate, when in February 2010 WikiLeaks began releasing classified U.S. cables, Saudi Arabia was known for its quiet diplomacy. Then its secret dealings were revealed and exposed its actual dealings. Regionally, released documents exposed Saudi Arabia as an enthusiastic proponent of military intervention in Iran. Privately, the Saudi rulers told U.S. officials that Iran is the biggest threat. Publicly, they emphasized Saudi Arabia’s commitment to a diplomatic, peaceful solution to the Iranian problem. In other words, the Saudi rulers conducted a two-tract, contradictory policy. The leaks deprived them of the cover of diplomatic secrecy. 

Together, WikiLeaks and the Arab Awakening highlighted Saudi Arabia’s reliance on authoritarian rulers and extremist Salafis to exert influence around the world. The Arab Spring threatened authoritarian rulers and extremist Salafis. Access to information and public participation in selecting leaders became a threat to Saudi religious and political paradigms and for those reasons they are now fully prepared to pursue an aggressive foreign policy publicly. In other words, Saudi aggressive meddling in the affairs of its neighbors is not new, it is simply overt nowadays.

In the short run, the Saudis will be able to exert limited influence in the region, mainly through their ability to create instability using violent, fanatic elements. In the long run, the Saudi money that is supporting Salafi political parties in Tunisia and Egypt and their open military support of Salafi armed groups in Syria will not succeed in preserving their governing paradigm. First, because it is ideologically flawed and socially unjust. Second, if the Salafis become willing and successful participating members in the democratic processes in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Syria and other Awakened Arab countries, they would want to have the same rights in Saudi Arabia itself. Thirdly, the Saudis’ enthusiastic support of the uprising in Syria cannot and will not absolve them of the long record of supporting authoritarians such as Mubarak and Ben Ali, who is still living under their protection. In the end, only genuine political and religious reform can save the kingdom from radical, and perhaps violent changes.


April 14, 2012

What caused the Syrian and Yemini uprisings to falter?

    Saturday, April 14, 2012   No comments

Syria: From peaceful uprising to armed rebellion
By all accounts, the success of the uprisings against the old guard in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya was not matched in Yemen and Syria. The failure of the Yemeni and Syrian uprisings to achieve their goals can be explained by the post-revolutions’ events in the Arab Awakening countries and the Gulf States’ meddling therein.

After nearly a year of hard struggle against the authoritarian regimes in the first three Arab Awakening countries, the youth of the revolution were overlooked in the elections due to the efficiency of the political machine of religious parties. In all three countries, Islamists, moderate and otherwise, reaped the fruits of uprisings initiated and realized by apolitical youth who were less interested in ideology and more driven by their yearning for dignity and respect.

But when the dust settled, religious and nationalist groups were able to mobilize their followers and gain control of elected bodies. This trend sent a shock of despair among the youth in Syria and Yemen. They became uninterested in sweating and bleeding for a cause that will be hijacked by Muslim brothers, salafis, and tahriris.

The second factor that contributed to the starving of the uprisings in Syria is the uncharacteristic “support” from the Gulf States, especially Saudi Arabia and Qatar. The Syrian youth were not interested in having their fight for dignity sponsored and bankrolled by regimes that have no culture of social justice, shared governance, and respect for human dignity. For many Syrians, it is bizarre that the Saudi family could offer the former dictator of Tunisia protection while calling for Assad’s removal from office. It is inexplicable that the same regime that hospitalized and supported the dictator of Yemen and called for a peaceful, political solution to the crisis there was willing to arm and finance the rebels in Syria. It is disturbing that the same regime that sent military tanks and troops to crush a peaceful uprising in Bahrain wants the UNSC and the Arab League to send troops into Syria. 

Simply put, the Syrian youth who struggled for political rights were not persuaded by the crocodile tears of the ruling families in Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Perhaps, when those rulers recognize the human rights of immigrants, respect the dignity of women, and end sectarian and ethnic discrimination in their countries, then, and only then, can they side with the Syrian people and speak on their behalf.

Considering the Saudi involvement in the Syrian crisis, it would seem as if the Saudis gambled on a win-win situation: the removal of Assad whom they despised for many reasons or the derailing of the Arab Awakening. They may have gotten the latter; while depriving the Arab peoples of a chance to transform their world for the better.


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