Tunisia. In connection with the fifth anniversary of the popular revolt that overthrew President Ben Ali in January 2011, unrest erupted in the city of al-Qasrayn. These later spread to the capital Tunis and the government imposed curfews in the evenings and nights.
According to countryaah, the current population of Tunisia is 11,818,630. One important reason for the protests was the high unemployment rate in the country. In January, Prime Minister Habib Essid carried out a government reform, which included, among other things, the Foreign Minister and the Minister of the Interior. In the same month, 22 members of the party Nida Tounes (Call for Tunisia) broke up and formed al-Horra (the free bloc). As a result, Nida Tounes lost the position of Parliament’s largest party to Ennahda. In March, another party – Machrouu Tounes – was formed by a defender from Nida Tounes.
After several weeks of demands for his departure, Essid himself requested a vote of confidence in his government in Parliament. An overwhelming majority voted against Essid and in early August President Beji Caid Essebsi appointed the Minister of Local Affairs, Youssef Chahed, as new head of government with the task of forming a unifying government.
In February, the government announced that a 20-mile barrier along the Libyan border was complete. The barrier will make it more difficult for terrorists to enter Tunisia. In March, however, a group of suspected Islamists managed to cross the border and attack an army base and a police station in the city of Ben Guerdane. Some 50 of the perpetrators were killed, the security forces lost 13 men and seven civilians lost their lives. In June, it was reported that Seifeddine Jameli, a member of the Tunisian IS-affiliated organization Jund al-Khilafa (Caliphate’s soldiers) and regarded as one of the country’s most dangerous terrorists, was killed.
In October, the state of emergency was originally extended in 2011 once again. With reference to terrorist threats, the state of emergency shall apply until January 2017.
The rebellion in Tunisia 2010–2011
According to thereligionfaqs, the rebellion in Tunisia 2010–2011 was a popular, non-violent rebellion aimed at the sitting regime in Tunisia, which started in December 2010. It is also known as the Jasmine Revolution, after Tunisia’s national flower.
It was this uprising that began December 17, 2010, in the Arab Spring. It was aimed at the board of President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali with demands for democratic reform. The protesters also demanded that the president have to step down, and he did so on January 14, 2011.
The action of street vendor Mohamed Bouazizi was the spark that ignited the rebellion in Tunisia – and the Arab Spring. But the causes of the revolt were profound; political, economic and social.
The insurgency targeted President Ben Ali, his family and the sitting regime. The demands were essentially about the president and regime having to step down and a democratization take place. The family of the president – and, above all, his wife Leila Trabelsi – was a special shooting record, having acquired great wealth through corruption and nepotism, made possible through the liberalization of the economy, with the privatization of former state business and the granting of business licenses.
This happened at a time when Tunisia was experiencing significant economic growth, while social disparities were increasing. A particularly important cause of social and political discontent was the high unemployment rate, especially among young people, where over a third were unemployed. The discontent also had a root in the conditions in the housing market and in the health care system, as well as high food prices; an ineffective bureaucracy was also criticized.
Although Tunisia was highlighted as one of the most secular and liberal countries in the Arab world, it was not full political freedom. Political opposition was suppressed and Islamist parties banned. Previous riots had been beaten and participants imprisoned.
The Tunisian uprising was spontaneous, at the same time building on previous actions against the regime, including several strikes and a built-up resistance to the regime. Youth played an important role in mobilizing participation, not least through the use of social media. Among other things, bloggers helped to disseminate information about the events, which led to attempts by the regime to restrict access to the Internet and to arrest young activists. Also, the Arab television channel al-Jazeera’s ongoing coverage of the uprising has been given special attention, especially to make the outside world aware of what happened in Tunisia, which contributed to the international condemnation of the regime and its handling of the uprising.
More than in other countries where rebellion broke out during the Arab Spring, Tunisia had a relatively broad, well-organized civil society, including with political parties and trade unions, although there was no full organizational freedom. The parties were mainly passive to the rebellion. On the other hand, the trade union movement, and in particular the national organization Union générale des travailleurs Tunisiens (UGTT), played a key role in mobilizing its members across the country, thereby helping to give the rebellion a national foothold.
This mobilization also linked social and political demands and strengthened mobilization. Among organized professional groups, lawyers in particular played a key role, participating in demonstrations and strikes. Police also took part in the protests, with complaints of poor pay and allegations of responsibility for abuse under Ben Ali’s regime.
In the legalized opposition, the Tajdid movement, originating in the former Tunisian Communist Party, played a key role. So did the Center Radical Party Democratique Progressists (PDP) and the Social Democratic Forum Democratique pour le travail et les libertés (FDTL). The illegal opposition gradually gained more influence as the revolt spread, including the Islamist movement An-Nahda, which is ideologically inspired by the Muslim Brotherhood. However, An-Nahda was weakened as a result of prolonged persecution, and was for a long time officially invisible. The ruling party RCD became paralyzed and was unable to gather members for any form of countermarking.
Tunisia’s armed forces were professionally loyal to the state and not to the president, which also contributed to the regime’s downfall. Army chief Rachid Ammar refused to execute orders to deploy his forces against the protesters, expressing his intention to defend the revolution.
In response to the rebels’ demands for democratization, the incumbent president announced in March a new election to a constitutional assembly, held on October 23, 2011. Its main task was to draft a new constitution prior to the 2013 presidential and parliamentary elections.
The regime change, confirmed through the election, was the foremost and clearest outcome of the Shasmin revolution, thus contributing to a real democratization of Tunisia, with the previously banned Islamist party An-Nahda becoming the largest party with 41.5 percent of the vote.
The uprising also contributed to changes in the state apparatus, where the secret police announced dissolution in March 2011. The transitional government released political prisoners, lifted the ban on political parties and removed the media censorship.