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Tunisia’s Political Polarisation Worsens after First Big Terrorist Attack in Two Years
Tunisia’s Political Polarisation Worsens after First Big Terrorist Attack in Two Years
Tombs in a Muslim cemetery are silhouetted during sunset in the village of Karateren near the Aral Sea, in southwestern Kazakhstan, April 2005. REUTERS/Shamil Zhumatov
Briefing 72 / Europe & Central Asia

叙利亚在呼唤:中亚的激进化

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概述

越来越多的中亚公民正赶赴中东参与战斗或以其他形式支持伊斯兰国,其中男女均有。部分由于政治边缘化和后苏联时代地区常有的经济萧条,在过去三年里有两到四千人抛弃了他们的世俗国家,转而投向激进团体。伊斯兰国不仅吸引那些寻求战斗经历的人,也吸引了那些追求更加虔诚、有目标、原教旨主义宗教生活的人。中亚各国政府因此面临一个复杂的问题。他们意欲利用这个现象来打击异议。但是更有效的解决之道应包括修正政治与行政上的多重失败,修改歧视性法律与政策,实施社区服务项目计划,为劣势群体青年创造国内就业机会,及提高安全部门之间的协调。

如果这些激进化的移民中有相当数量回到中亚,将会影响整个地区的安全与稳定。这个脆弱的地区由哈萨克斯坦、吉尔吉斯斯坦、塔吉克斯坦、土库曼斯坦和乌兹别克斯坦组成,夹在俄罗斯与阿富汗、伊朗和中国之间。每个国家都受困于低下的执政能力、腐败和犯罪。乌兹别克斯坦和土库曼斯坦类似于威权主义警察国家。哈萨克斯坦有一些财富,但国家破损严重,且是独裁的政治体制。五国均无法提供有质量的社会服务,农村地区尤其如此。他们的安全部队资金不足、训练水平低下且倾向于用粗暴的手段来弥补资源与技术上的不足,因此没有能力应对激进伊斯兰这样复杂的挑战。五国本应在促进宗教自由的同时维护世俗宪法,并且学习欧洲或亚洲国家将圣战分子去激进化的经验,但他们通过法律限制宗教发展,并利用警察进行打击,反而进一步推动了激进化。

该地区各处的清真寺和祈祷室都成为了为极端事业进行招募的场所。互联网和社交媒体起到了关键但不是决定性的作用。女性走向激进化通常是由于她们在中亚地区缺乏社会、宗教、经济和政治机会。伊斯兰国控制领土的吸引力并不是经济回报。对一些人来说,这是一次个人冒险;对其他人来说,这是战斗号召。许多人实际的角色是为来自高加索或阿拉伯国家的更有经验的战士提供支持服务。

乌兹别克族人,包括乌兹别克公民,在伊斯兰国的中亚人中数量最大,但吉尔吉斯人、哈萨克人、土库曼人和塔吉克人也为数不少。有一些是从国内招募的;其他则是在国外变得激进的,通常是移民工人。这个问题在吉尔吉斯斯坦南部尤为严重,自从2012年奥什市的暴力事件导致乌兹别克人社区的异化后,风险就被放大了。

该地区民众对政治和社会变革的渴望未能得到满足,圣战主义思想也因此获得了土壤。伊斯兰国的支持者中贫富各异、教育程度各异、年龄各异、男女皆有,但他们的重要共同点是对社会和政治环境的失望。乌兹别克斯坦问题尤为严重。虽然在这里乌兹别克斯坦伊斯兰运动或阿富汗塔利班早就存在,但那些原本并未考虑加入这些组织的人,却因深感压抑与被排挤而认同伊斯兰国是一个新颖的神命的政治秩序。

通过伊斯兰国接受战斗训练并逐步晋升入指挥层的中亚人的数量不断上升,他们所参与的圣战主义网络也在不断壮大。虽然大部分中亚人都被大概根据种族和语言分成不同的小组,但这些小组又联合形成了更大的地区部队,包括了来自前苏联、阿富汗、巴基斯坦和中国新疆地区互相协作的战士。这些网络很有可能在中亚加速发展并且形成自身目标,而本来就缺乏能力应对此类安全威胁的中亚各国政府对此毫无准备。

俄罗斯和中国已经表达了忧虑,敦促中亚各国政府解决伊斯兰国崛起而带来的激进化问题。这个地区的其他国际合作伙伴,包括欧盟和美国,应该认识到有越来越多的中亚人正加入伊斯兰国。在对中亚国家就解决这一问题的建议中,应优先考虑执法改革,以及对宗教采取更宽容的态度。但是如果中亚国家之间缺乏协调,包括安全部队之间的情报分享,地区外国家所希冀的应对措施很可能失败。

比什凯克/布鲁塞尔, 2015年1月20日

A member of the Tunisian security forces stands guard at the site of a suicide attack in the Tunisian capital Tunis on 29 October, 2018. AFP/Fethi Belaid

Tunisia’s Political Polarisation Worsens after First Big Terrorist Attack in Two Years

A 29 October suicide bombing in the heart of Tunis dealt a blow to much-improved security since the last violent jihadist attacks in 2015-16. In this Q&A, our Senior Analyst for Tunisia Michael B. Ayari says it has also hammered a new wedge into Islamist-secularist political divides.

What do we know about what happened, and who was behind the attack?

On 29 October, a suicide bomber set off an improvised explosive device in her backpack on Habib Bourguiba Avenue in downtown Tunis – the city's best-known thoroughfare, a few hundred metres from the ministry of interior and the French embassy. The explosion killed her and wounded twenty bystanders, including fifteen policemen who appear to have been the intended target. For now, no group has claimed responsibility for the bombing. The 30-year-old woman – an unemployed graduate with an English degree from a small village near Mahdia, on the Mediterranean, who occasionally worked as a shepherdess – left no indication as to her motive. Security sources have suggested she may have had contact with members of the Islamic State (ISIS), possibly relatives.

How significant is this attack?

This is the first major terrorist attack to take place in Tunis since 2015, a year when multiple major attacks in the capital and other locations shook the country, targeting parliament, members of the security forces, and foreign tourists. Then, the concern was about ISIS and other jihadist groups that had made clear their intention to destabilise Tunisia's fledging democratic experiment. There were thousands of Tunisians who had joined the ranks of ISIS in Libya and Syria, as well as al-Qaeda affiliated groups operating on the border with Algeria. Tunisia is much more secure today than it was then. Since the last major ISIS attack in Tunisia in March 2016 – when Tunisian members of the group in Libya tried to seize control of Ben Guerdane, a trading town on the Libyan border – security forces have greatly enhanced their capacity to go after jihadist groups, in part with international backing. The security vacuum that existed in the aftermath of the 2011 uprising no longer prevails, ISIS has suffered major defeats in Libya, Syria and Iraq, and while attacks against military and police occur regularly on the mountainous border with Algeria, security has vastly improved in the rest of the country.

The attack comes as Tunisian politics appears increasingly taken hostage by a dispute between President Béji Caïd Essebsi and Prime Minister Youssef Chahed

What impact has the attack had in Tunisia so far?

Beyond the dead and wounded, the most important impact may be political. The attack comes as Tunisian politics appears increasingly taken hostage by a dispute between President Béji Caïd Essebsi and Prime Minister Youssef Chahed, and the Islamist/anti-Islamist polarisation that had peaked in 2013 is making a comeback. It was striking to see some Tunisian media immediately seek to place blame for the attack on An-Nahda, the Islamist party that has been a key partner in the governing coalition in place since early 2015. Essebsi's first statement on the bombing was also telling: "There is a rotten political climate," he said. "We are too fixated on positions and rivalries and forget the essential: the security of citizens". That statement was widely seen by his rivals as seeking to score points against his opponents – and indeed a blame game of sorts is taking place.

What is the nature of the dispute between Essebsi and Chahed?

Essebsi has sought for over a year to dismiss Chahed, but has been unable to muster enough support from both his own party, Nida Tounes, and his main coalition partner An-Nahda to do so. An-Nahda, which had initially backed Essebsi, has switched sides and since this summer backs Chahed – or at least does not want him to step down for the moment. The backdrop to this are looming parliamentary and presidential elections in 2019 (in which both men could run), deep divisions in Nida Tounes between Essebsi's and Chahed's partisans, and the future of the consensus between Islamists and non-Islamists that Essebsi and Nahda leader Rached Ghannouchi were key in brokering in 2014. As a result, on 24 September, after months of simmering tensions, Essebsi declared that the consensus with Nahda was over. The return of sharp polarisation swiftly followed, including explosive accusations by the far-left Popular Front party that Nahda has a secret military wing and had a hand in political assassinations carried out by jihadist groups in 2013.

Tunisia cannot really afford to lack an effective government or to botch preparations for what will only be the second democratic elections in its history.

What is the risk from here on?

The political crisis is paralysing Tunisia. The country seems unable to make the tough decisions to tackle a lingering economic crisis. It is late in nominating the members of the electoral commission that will oversee the 2019 elections. It has also not yet nominated the members of the constitutional court, a crucial institution under the 2014 constitution, widely hailed as the most liberal in the Arab world. The rising political polarisation is making it increasingly difficult for parliament to go through with these crucial steps and is discrediting the political class among ordinary Tunisians, particularly as they suffer from rising costs of living. Tunisia cannot really afford to lack an effective government or to botch preparations for what will only be the second democratic elections in its history.

Will this attack worsen the mood?

It very likely will. The end of the consensus announced by Essebsi appears to have removed political safeguards against excessive polarisation. Among ordinary people I spoke to, it was striking to see that many viewed yesterday's attack as expected, almost an outgrowth of the political crisis. Nahda's detractors interpreted it as a warning shot from the Islamist party. Nahda’s supporters viewed it as a false flag operation perpetrated by security forces and the radical secularist camp to justify a new crackdown on Islamists. Finally, members of the security forces and their backers are seizing on the attack as an opportunity to revive a draft "law for the protection of armed forces" that, in its latest draft at least, appears to grant vast powers and impunity to the police and has been roundly condemned by civil society groups. The attack is encouraging the authoritarian drift that has been increasingly in the air for the past year, and indeed may incentivise jihadist groups, which had every reason to be demoralised after the setbacks they suffered in recent years, to carry out further attacks to exploit political divisions.

The casualty toll in this article was updated on 31 October, up from nine wounded as originally reported on 30 October.