Steven Sahiounie, journalist and political commentator
On Friday, Tunisia’s foreign ministry summoned an official from the US Embassy after Secretary of State Antony Blinken caste aspersions on Tunisia’s democracy.
Othman Jerandi, Tunisia’s Foreign Minister, told Natasha Franceschi, US acting chargé d’affaires that the statement was an unacceptable “interference in the national internal affairs”.
On Thursday, Blinken had said, “Tunisia has experienced an alarming erosion of democratic norms over the past year and reversed many of the Tunisian people’s hard-won gains since 2011.”
Blinken’s assessment was in response to the new constitution giving President Kais Saied more power than the 2014 constitution.
The US criticism failed to note that Saied’s actions have been directed at moving Tunisia away from Muslim Brotherhood domination and Radical Islamic constraints, which were supported by the Obama administration.
Tunisia’s new constitution was endorsed in a referendum the president held on July 25, a year after Saied moved to shut down the elected parliament and start ruling by decree. It gives far more power to Saied, and passed in a referendum with a 30.5% turnout.
The election commission said 95% of voters approved the constitution in the referendum, which was boycotted by opposition groups, who accuse Saied of a power-grab. According to Saied, the previous parliament was paralyzed by political chaos and disunity, under a constitution which split power between the president and the parliament.
“Saied falsified the popular will by falsifying the results,” said Nejib Chebbi, head of the opposition National Salvation Front, which includes the Islamist Ennahda party. The biggest losers are crying ‘fraudulent vote count’, reminiscent of Trump’s 2020 claims.
“Arab Spring” in Tunisia and rise of the Muslim Brotherhood party to power
Tunisia is the birthplace of the “Arab Spring”, which began as protests about poverty and directed at President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, which caused him to flee to Saudi Arabia after several weeks.
The revolution in Tunisia, a former French colony, inspired uprisings in Egypt and Libya, and Syria, which have left Libya and Syria destroyed and still after 12 years unrecovered.
The Muslim Brotherhood leader Rachid Ghannouchi was successful in Tunisia’s post-revolution government with his Ennahda party, who won a parliamentary majority in October 2011. This victory was seen as a green-light to other US-supported Muslim Brotherhood leaders in the region.
However, the Tunisian people rejected the growing conversion from a secular democracy to an increasingly Islamic State. The Egyptian people rejected Morsi, and the Tunisian people have rejected the Ennahda party. Free Constitutional party leader Abir Moussi accused Ghannouchi of serving the agenda of the Muslim Brotherhood, as well as foreign powers such as Turkey and Qatar.
On July 29, Tunisia’s judiciary opened a probe into Ennahda, the Heart of Tunisia party, and the “Aish Tounsi” association on suspicion of receiving foreign funds during the 2019 election campaign. This resembles the US involvement in the Egyptian election of Morsi.
The revolt of the MB power in Tunisia
Saied dissolved the parliament a year ago, which was hugely popular with Tunisians, as thousands flooded the streets to support him, but with little progress in addressing dire economic problems, that support has withered. Saied invoked Article 80 of Tunisia’s constitution in an effort to “save the state” from the domination of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Tunisia’s strong secularist traditions go back to the first post-independence president, Habiba Bourguiba,
The Obama administration’s use of the Muslim Brotherhood for regime change in the “Arab Spring”
US President Barak Obama was born of a Muslim father, and raised by a Muslim step-father. Obama was influenced by his upbringing and exposure to Islam and Islamic cultures.
The Muslim Brotherhood is an international ideology driven political group, who many countries deem as a terrorist group, which was founded in 1928.
Obama had a vision of a “New Middle East” which would be devoid of traditional leaders, but headed by Muslim Brotherhood members. Israel is American’s strongest ally in the Middle East, and the Muslim Brotherhood has demonstrated they are a group which accepts and works well with Israel, as long as it is in their interest. Washington, DC., London and Berlin all have very well established Muslim Brotherhood networks who are connected to western governments.
“Arab Spring” in Egypt
On February 11, 2011 President Mubarak of Egypt resigned after almost thirty years in power. The National Democratic Institute (NDI) based in Washington, DC, and tied to Madeleine Albright and Hilary Clinton, had an office in Cairo with Lila Jaafar as their senior program director. The US-supported candidate won in the first post-Mubarak presidential election. However, by December 2011, the offices of NDI in Cairo were raided by Egyptian Police.
Lila Jaafar was sentenced in absentia to five years in prison for working for and taking money from unregistered organizations. An Egyptian report accused NDI and other US NGO’s of sabotaging the revolution which ousted Mubarak to install a US-supported Muslim Brotherhood candidate for President. The report cited Obama’s administration had allocated $65 million to NGOs supporting the Egyptian election, but bypassing the government in Cairo.
Mohammed Morsi, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, won the election with 51.73 per cent of the vote. Morsi held a Ph.D. from USC, and had taught at Cal-State Northridge, but left the US after becoming disgusted with the American values of equality of men and women in the workplace.
The day before Morsi took office, he said that he would try to free Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman, who had been convicted in connection to the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center.
By November 2012, it was clear that Morsi was intent on creating an Islamic State in Egypt, and protesters were killed and injured by Morsi’s security gangs, which caused the second Egyptian revolution to oust the Obama supported Morsi, in an Egyptian controlled movement. After only one year in office, the Obama candidate was out, and on July 3, 2013, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, led the military takeover which later saw him become the President of Egypt.
“Arab Spring” in Syria: the US failure
Syria is the only secular government in the Middle East and has Jews, Christians and Muslims living side by side. In March 2011 the US-NATO attack on Syria began for ‘regime change’, following a play-book written in Libya and executed by the Obama administration using the Muslim Brotherhood “Syrian Opposition” in Turkey, which was supported by the CIA office there to fund and arm the terrorists in Syria. In 2017 President Trump shut that CIA operation.
Syria remains a secular government, and the US sponsored ‘regime change’ project failed, but succeeded in destroying the country.
Steven Sahiounie is a two-time award-winning journalist