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Tunisia

A stable Tunisia remains critical for security in North Africa as a whole. Yet its proximity to Libya leaves it exposed to dangerous spillover, as shown by March 2016’s deadly attack by ISIS militants on the border town of Ben Guerdane. Even with ISIS’ relative decline in the Levant and Libya, there is a risk that some of the thousands of Tunisian foreign fighters could return and exploit simmering social unrest. Local elections planned for May 2018, the first since the 2011 revolution, will reveal whether the stability that has endured since the 2013 political deal between Tunisia’s two main parties can hold. Crisis Group works to identify conflict triggers ahead of the coming elections, including tensions over economic and socio-regional inequality, and aims to broaden the political consensus established in 2013.

CrisisWatch Tunisia

Unchanged Situation

Ahead of legislative elections in Oct and presidential in Nov political alliances continued to shift and debates intensified. Several politicians joined PM Chahed’s new party Tayha Tounes, including former ministers Lassâad Zarrouk and Afif Chelbi early May, and al-Moubadara party leader Kamel Morjane 22 May. Several public figures gained prominence as potential presidential candidates; in opinion poll released early May, law professor Kaïs Saïed won most votes with 22.4%, owner of private TV channel Nabil Karoui came second with 21.8%; former official of former President Ben Ali’s party Abir Moussi came third with 12.4%; PM Chahed came fourth with 7.4%. Sec Gen of president’s party Nida Tounes 8 May called for delay of elections to prevent political scene from fragmenting further. Ben Ali mid-May posted first political message since his ouster in 2011, thanking thousands of Tunisians who had sent him “love letters” and encouraging “my people to overcome the difficulties”. Member of UN panel of experts on Libya with dual Tunisian and German nationality Moncef Kartas, charged 10 April with “spying for foreign parties” and jailed despite UN immunity, was released 21 May; Kartas reportedly left Tunisia for Germany next day. National guard 1 May arrested al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM)-affiliated militant Raed Touati at Mount Chaambi in west.

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Reports & Briefings

In The News

25 Feb 2018
There is tension between the [Tunisian] police and the judiciary [about ISIS militants]. The police say it’s because the judges are terrorists themselves. BuzzFeed

Michaël Béchir Ayari

Senior Analyst, Tunisia
14 Jan 2018
There is a fertile ground for social anger [in Tunisia] that needs to be taken into account. What will be interesting in the next days is how the youth movements will structure themselves. The New York Times

Michaël Béchir Ayari

Senior Analyst, Tunisia

Latest Updates

Strengthening Institutions in Tunisia

Tunisia is in limbo between two different forms of government, deepening socio-economic difficulties for many citizens and putting the country’s security at risk. In this excerpt from our Watch List 2018, Crisis Group proposes that the EU and its member states use their influence to persuade Tunisia actively to promote economic growth and speed up government restructuring.

On the Politics behind Tunisia’s Protests

Analysis on the politics behind the scenes of the ongoing protests in Tunisia.

Originally published in The Arabist

En Tunisie, « le risque d’une dérive autoritaire »

Pour les chercheurs d’ICG, Michaël Ayari et Issandr El-Amrani, le pouvoir tunisien doit parachever la transition démocratique sept ans après la chute de Ben Ali.

Originally published in Le Monde Afrique

Endiguer la dérive autoritaire en Tunisie

La polarisation politique et la nostalgie, illusoire, d’un gouvernement centralisé fort planent au-dessus du septième anniversaire du déclenchement de la révolution tunisienne de 2011. La coalition au pouvoir devra mener les réformes qu’elle avait promises, mettre en place la Cour constitutionnelle et organiser des élections municipales, déjà reportées à de nombreuses reprises, si elle veut que la transition tunisienne reste l’exemple d’une transition réussie dans le monde arabe.

Also available in العربية, English

Stemming Tunisia’s Authoritarian Drift

As dangerous signs of political polarisation mark the seventh anniversary of the 14 January 2011 Tunisian uprising, Crisis Group’s Tunisia Senior Analyst Michaël Béchir Ayari reflects on a growing but illusory popular nostalgia for strong, centralised government to get a grip on the country. He argues that to save the Arab world’s sole successful transition since 2011, the governing coalition should enact promised reforms, create a Constitutional court and hold long-delayed local elections.

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