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الحدود التونسية (II): بين الارهاب والاستقطاب الجهوي
الحدود التونسية (II): بين الارهاب والاستقطاب الجهوي
Tunisia in 2019: a Pivotal Year?
Tunisia in 2019: a Pivotal Year?

الحدود التونسية (II): بين الارهاب والاستقطاب الجهوي

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الملخص التنفيذي

منذ الانتفاضة الشعبية كانون الاوّل/ديسمبر-كانون الثّاني/جانفي 2010 – 2011 تمكّنت تونس من التغلّب بنجاح على أزماتها السياسية. إلا أن البلد يبدو أقل استعدادا لامتصاص صدمة الهجمات الجهادية الأكثر أهمية. ولكن رغم الحوار الوطني الذي خفّف بدرجة كبيرة الضّغوطات وجعل بداية 2014 متّسمة بالتّفاؤل، فإنّ القلق قد تزايد من جديد. وإنّ هذا التخوف يمكن أن يُفسّر بتصاعد أعمال العنف على الحدود مع الجزائر والفوضى في ليبيا وتقدّم الإسلام الرّاديكالي في الشرق الأوسط ولكن أيضا بالخطابات السائدة المضادّة للإرهاب. وأمام صدى النّزاعات الّتي تحرّك المنطقة فإنّ البلد يحتاج إلى معالجة مسألة الإرهاب بطريقة هادئة وغير مسيسة رغم الرّهانات الدولية. إنّ مقاومة الإرهاب ومقاومة الجريمة المنظّمة أمران غير منفصلين. وهكذا فإنّ الحكومة ستستفيد عندما ترفق إجراءاتها الأمنية بإجراءات إقتصاديّة واجتماعيّة تهدف إلى إعادة سكّان الحدود إلى حضن الدولة.

ومنذ سنة 2013، يبدو أنّ التّحالف بين مهرّبي الأسلحة والمخدّرات وبين الخلايا الجهادية المسلّحة قد تدعّم كثيرا في المناطق الحدوديّة. وإنّ شبكات التّهريب الكبرى تغذّي العنف على الحدود الذي سرعان ما يوصف "بالإرهاب" حسب أغلب وسائل الإعلام. وإنّ هذه الشّبكات يمكن أن تتعاظم بدرجة خطيرة إذا أدّى إحتداد الصّراع في ليبيا إلى تأثيرات إقتصاديّة وسياسيّة جدّية.

إنّ الأزمة الاجتماعيّة في جنوب البلاد والتّحالف القوي بين العصابات والجهاديّين والاستقطاب الايديولوجي الذي تدعمه التوتّرات الاقليمبة أمور يمكنها مع إقتراب موعد الانتخابات وبعدها أن تكوّن خليطا انفجاريا. إنّ عددا من النّاخبين ومن المترشّحين للانتخابات التّشريعية والرّئاسية القادمة في الخارج وداخل البلاد 24 – 26 تشرين الأوّل/أكتوبر (التّشريعية) و 21 – 23 تشرين الثّاني/نوفمبر (الدورة الأولى للرئاسيّة) و26 – 28 كانون الأوّل/ديسمبر (الدّورة الثانية) 2014 يتقاسمون الخشية من فشل المسار الانتخابي وأن تعاني تونس مصير بقية بلدان المنطقة. الحملة الأمنية العميقة وانتقام المجموعات الجهادية الضّعيفة من شأنه أن يكوّن حلقة مفرغة. وإنّ حكومة مهدي جمعة المسمّاة "تكنوقراط" تلعب على صدى العواطف المتأججة ضد الإرهاب. هذا يعيد توجيه قلق الطّبقات الوسطى المثقفة نحوالخوف من ظاهرة التطرّف الدّيني. في هذا السياق, فإن مكمن الخطورة إذا وقع هجوم إرهابي كبير يخشى منه إعادة إحياء الاستقطاب الإيديولوجي بين الإسلاميين والعلمانيين.

وحتّى تحمي نفسها من أزمة جديدة يجب على الحكومة أن تتّخذ نوعين من التّدابير الأساسيّة: الأوّل يتمثّل في تكثيف وجودها في المناطق الحدودية من خلال سياسة تنمويّة تظهر آثارها بسرعة أمام أعين السكان. أما الثاني فيتمثّل في تطبيق إستراتيجية ناجعة ودقيقة لمقاومة الإرهاب بعيدا عن المعالجة الإعلاميّة الحالية التي تنمّي فوبيا الجهاديين وتخلط بطريقة غير مباشرة بين مختلف الحساسيات الإسلامية.

إنّ الرهانات الايديولوجية الإقليمية والدّولية المتعلّقة بالمسألة الإسلامية تهمّ دون شكّ تونس ولكن يجب ألاّ تحدّد مستقبلها. فبعد تقرير أوّل حول "الحدود التونسية" (نوفمبر 2013) فإنّ هذه الإحاطة تحلل حقيقة التهديدات على الحدود التونسية الليبية والتونسية الجزائرية و تقترح سبلا للحدّ من المخاطر.

لقد بات من المؤكّد وفي أقرب وقت على القوى السياسية الرئيسية النّقابية والجمعياتية، الإسلامية وغير الإسلامية أن تنفّذ مقاربة توافقية حول الأمن العام، وعلى السّلطات أن تتبع خطابا هادئا ضد الإرهاب يمنع من عودة الاستقطاب في حال حدوث هجوم كبير على البلد البلاد. ومن المأمول أيضا أن تكثّف هذه الحكومة أو التي ستخلفها من التعاون الأمني مع الجارة الجزائر وتفعل مشروع بعث وكالة وطنية للاستخبارات والحوار مع العصابات الموجودة على الحدود من أجل أن تقبل هذه العصابات بالكفّ عن المتاجرة بالمواد الخطيرة وربما يقبل البعض منهم مستقبلا بالتعاون مع الدولة التونسية في المجال الأمني.إنّ جملة هذه الإجراءات من شأنها أن تساهم في نهاية المطاف في منع سكّان الحدود من الابتعاد بصفة نهائية عن الدولة وألاّ تكون مهيّأة على المدى المتوسط لمواجهة الدولة وذلك بالانضمام إلى المجموعات المسلحة الجهادية الاجرامية.

تونس/بروكسل، 21 تشرين الأول/أكتوبر 2014

Tunisia in 2019: a Pivotal Year?

Divisions within Tunisia’s political leadership are preventing the government from addressing the country’s political and socio-economic challenges. In this excerpt from our Watch List 2019 for European policymakers, Crisis Group urges the EU to support measures that will prevent further polarisation.

Tunisia’s political transition is in trouble. Hopes that the country’s post-uprising leadership would successfully tackle its myriad of political and socio-economic challenges have started to dim. The economy is in the doldrums and the political leadership is increasingly split between Islamists and non-Islamists, both competing for control of state resources. This confluence of problems is stirring a general crisis of confidence in the political elite, and there is reason to fear that the country may backslide from its post-2011 democratic opening ahead of presidential and parliamentary polls at the end of the year.

As Tunisia’s main trading partner, and in the context of its European Neighbourhood Policy, the EU should:

  • Continue its macro-financial assistance despite the government’s slow pace in implementing necessary reforms (eg, pension reform, reducing the public-sector payroll, improving the business climate and greater fiscal transparency, among others);
     
  • Encourage the government to prioritise public-administration reforms, introduce greater transparency in public-sector appointments and transfers, and establish clear rules governing relations with senior administrative officials – all steps that can help prevent further polarisation between Islamists and anti-Islamists;
     
  • Encourage parliament to reach agreement on creating a politically diverse Constitutional Court to ensure its independence;
     
  • Resist attempts to restore an authoritarian regime by, for example, conditioning continued financial support to Tunisia on the legislative and executive branches’ respect for the constitution.
     

An Ailing Economy and Polarisation at the Top

The economy is faring poorly. The Tunisian dinar has depreciated by more than 40 per cent in relation to the euro since 2016, reducing purchasing power, while inflation stands at 8 per cent annually. As a result, the cost of living has increased by more than 30 per cent since 2016, driving households into debt. Regional disparities are growing, and unemployment remains dire. These factors combined have accelerated both a brain drain and capital flight.

These economic troubles occur at a time of severe tensions between President Béji Caïd Essebsi and Prime Minister Youssef Chahed, which have grown over the past two years. Their rivalry has laid bare an old rift between Islamists (mainly the An-Nahda party) and anti-Islamists (represented by Nida Tounes, the president’s party), with Chahed, who originally hails from Nida Tounes relying on the Islamist bloc’s parliamentary dominance to remain in office.

An-Nahda has been in coalition governments since 2011, but from 2016 onward, when Chahed became head of a national unity government, the party has worked hard to strengthen its power by placing a growing number of its supporters in senior posts in the public administration, state-owned companies and government offices and agencies in the capital and provinces. In doing so, it is changing in its favour the composition of patronage networks controlling state resources and access to credit, private monopolies and oligopolies. Over time, this inevitably will reduce the economic predominance of coastal northern Tunisia over the southern hinterland.

An intensifying struggle over resources would further deepen the rift between Islamists and anti-Islamists.

In May 2018, An-Nahda made headway in local elections. It won 28 per cent of municipal council seats (against 20 per cent for Nida Tounes), including in all the main cities. The next month, it took charge of the administration in 36 per cent of all municipalities (compared with 22 per cent for Nida Tounes). This partial victory boosted the party’s political weight, altered the balance of power vis-à-vis its principal opponent, and raised a question mark over the tacit agreement between Islamists and anti-Islamists in place since the 2014 parliamentary and presidential elections. By this unwritten agreement, An-Nahda had accepted less power than its electoral weight would suggest it should have, with just three ministries, none a major one; it had also agreed not to interfere with the established patronage networks, for example by placing its backers in senior executive positions.

Its electoral show of strength triggered a response from an inchoate coalition of senior figures in government, business and professional associations and trade unions, as well as far-left activists and Arab nationalists. They started to pressure the interior and justice ministries to classify the Islamist party as a terrorist organisation, and on the military courts to dissolve it and imprison some of its leaders. They also began reaching out to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in hopes of soliciting these two countries’ support against An-Nahda, whose leader, Rached Ghannouchi, is a leading intellectual figure among the regionwide Muslim Brotherhood, their staunch enemy. The resurfacing of this rift invites a return to Tunisian politics of political competition that has dominated the Middle East and North Africa region since 2013 – between Turkey and Qatar, representing the Islamist bloc, on one side, and Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, on the other.

An intensifying struggle over resources would further deepen the rift between Islamists and anti-Islamists. It also would significantly heighten political and social tensions ahead of parliamentary and presidential elections later this year, which could well prove decisive in shaping the country’s political and economic complexion for the next decade. Because of a split in the secularist camp, An-Nahda’s enduring popularity among large sectors of the population and its dominance of governing institutions, the party remains the favourite to win at least the parliamentary elections. Even were this scenario to pass, the Islamists’ power could be circumscribed. It will need to cobble together a governing coalition, and optimally will be willing once again to forgo key ministries and maintain its tacit agreement with the anti-Islamists. An-Nahda’s influence would be further curbed were it to put up a presidential candidate and loose.

However, other scenarios are possible. If tensions come to a head before the elections, violence could get in the way of the electoral process. This could prompt the president to declare a state of emergency, as provided for under the constitution, but without additional constitutional checks, this could put Tunisia back on the path of autocratic rule. For this reason, it is critical that the parliament establish a Constitutional Court, which would adjudicate whether the state of emergency can be extended thirty days after its entry into force. The court should have a politically diverse composition that might help to prevent it from endorsing such a move. Indeed, under this scenario, the absence of a Constitutional Court could plunge Tunisia into dangerous waters.

An EU Role in Preventing a Dangerous Backsliding

The EU is Tunisia’s main trading partner and has provided important financial support to the country (between 2011 and 2017, EU assistance to Tunisia amounted to € 2.4 billion in grants and macro-financial assistance). It has a clear interest in protecting Tunisia’s stability, to fortify one of the only – if not the only – success story to emanate from the Arab uprisings, dampen the appeal of jihadism to Tunisians, and limit illegal migration to Europe. It follows that, despite the disappointing pace of economic and political reforms (pension reform, reducing the public-sector payroll, improving the business climate, greater fiscal transparency, advancing negotiations about the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement, creating the Constitutional Court and replacing four members of the Independent High Authority for Elections so that this body can move forward with organising the legislative and presidential elections of late 2019), the EU should continue to provide macro-economic support to prevent the situation from deteriorating even further.

In addition, it should encourage the government to prioritise public-administration reform, render public-sector appointments and transfers more transparent, and introduce clear rules governing its relations with senior administrative officials – all steps that, by reducing the role of partisan patronage would help prevent further polarisation between Islamists and anti-Islamists. It should also encourage political parties to reach agreement in parliament about the composition of the Constitutional Court, thus enabling its establishment. And it should use its influence to counterbalance any domestic or externally-inspired effort to restore an authoritarian regime by making continued financial support to Tunisia conditional on the legislative and executive branches’ respect for the constitution.