How fast hope can fade. In 2011 Tunisia gave birth to the events that would later be referred to as the Arab Spring. A series of street protests over a dire economic climate led to the ouster of then President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali who had been in power since 1987.
New elections were held after Constitutional Reforms created a Multi-Party Democracy. However in 2023 Tunisia finds itself back in the same position as it was in 2011.
The economy is faltering to put it mildly. The country has a President who is entrenched in his power with a new crisis regarding the treatment of migrants from Sub-Saharan Africa flocking to the country to use it as a launching point to cross the Mediterranean Sea to hopefully find sanctuary in Europe.
When did things beging to sour in Tunisia? It happened two years ago when current President Kais Saied instigated what some analysts referred to as a self-coup. In one move Mr. Saied fired his cabinet and dissolved Parliament. Since that time the Tunisian Authorities have launched a crackdown against members of the opposition, journalists and some business figures.
Freedom of the Press and Freedom of Speech were hard won victories from the Jasmine Revolution of 2011. One thing that has been disheartening is that the Radio Journalist that coined the term Jasmine Revolution Zied el-Heni has been arrested as well.
However the one disturbing fact that most Human Rights Activists have been focused on has to be the plight of the migrants from Sub-Saharan Africa. President Saied has come out and stated that these people who have been fleeing fighting, famine and other issues are not only a threat to Tunisia but are trying to take over Tunisia.
Recent reporting of Migrants being driven to the border with Libya which is some of the most inhospitible terrain in North Africa and left to fend for themselves without food, water or shelter. Despite its own internal strife and instability the Libyans have accomplished yeoman’s work with very little international support.
There have been complaints that the progress that was made in a decade after the Jasmine Revolution were undone in 24 months thus rendering the Revolution incomplete.
The actions of President Saied shows that he is not a democrat but a traditional strongman. His ruthlessness shows that he can and probably will do anything to stay in power. How that will benefit the long suffering people of Tunisia has yet to be seen.