Tunisia terror attack 'was inevitable'
In most conversations about the disastrous Arab Spring, Tunisia is always celebrated as the sole success model
In most conversations about the disastrous Arab Spring, Tunisia is always celebrated as the sole success model. Except for Tunisia, all the remaining Arab Spring states - Egypt, Yemen, Libya and Syria - have presented a “scary” model of what was hoped as the way towards democratization, the rule of law and inclusive political system.
That is why the recent bloody attack on the Tunisian capital’s famed Bardo Museum and the parliament compound has been received with shock, agony and grief by all good-hearted people wishing to see the role model of the Arab world still withstanding.
Since 2011, Tunisia has never witnessed a stable rule. The “benign” struggle between the Islamists, secularists and leftists has pushed the country into a long transitional stage that witnessed several parliamentary and presidential elections.
With Tunisian political powers struggling to contain the Arab Spring’s accompanying scenarios of violence, bloodshed, chaos and instability, many Islamist extremists have been working secretly and inaudibly on securing a foothold in the North African country.
With the war in Syria and then Iraq colored with Islamic terms, Tunisians were among the largest groups of fighters to join the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and Jabhat al-Nusra.
The enthusiasm Tunisian youths showed in wanting to fight alongside Islamist groups in Syria and then Iraq was largely due to the desired task they took upon their shoulders to help their “brothers” get rid of totalitarian rule - because of course they see themselves as the “experienced” Arab Spring pioneers.
With Tunisia being totally an established secularist state under ousted president Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali’s decades-long rule, Tunisia has begun to witness what can be termed as “Islamic awakening” since 2011 especially after the exiled Tunisia's Islamists came out of the cold, having a say on the country’s politics and its social fabrics.
Like in Egypt, Libya and Syria, youths driven by Islamist views, had to resort to radical Islamist groups having seen the politicized Muslim Brotherhood and its affiliate al-Nahda Party failing to realize their “romance” for Islamic model rule.
Much of the story anyway is there in the short interval between the decay of the MB and other politicized Islamist movements and the rise of the radical Islamist groups.
Taking into consideration Tunisia’s closeness to Libya and the proximity of Northern Africa to Europe across the Mediterranean, I wasn’t that surprised to hear ISIS claiming responsibility for the Wednesday’s bloody attack on Bardo museum in the capital Tunis.
In fact, I was expecting ISIS to declare responsibility for the museum shootings. Well, it might have not been that easy to identify “who has done it” at the museum because the attack, it terms of quality, could have been done by the al-Qaeda in West Africa and Maghreb, Ansar al-Sharia or ISIS which all have affiliates and “sleeper cells” in Tunisia.
Plus, there is always some kind of competition on prevalence among such groups that each one is always trying to show itself as enjoying influence and presence all over the world. Such fierce competition has increased dramatically since ISIS and al-Qaeda divorced in February 2014.
But “who has done it” at the museum is not in fact what matters most in the whole scene. The fear of Tunisia turning into a terror-fertile territory amid rising concerns of the widespread of Islamist militancy in North Africa - now officially evident in Libya - is what matters most.
Within the Arab world, the unrestraint spread of radicalism in Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Lebanon, Libya, Yemen and now Tunisia has become unbearable indeed. There should be a collective joint Arab action, let it be within the Arab League, to curb the phenomena.
At the international level, it is also time for a decisive action on terrorism that involves all world powers that are required to work cohesively on collaboratively on fighting terrorism based on a comprehensive strategy, through the U.N. Security Council maybe, and surely away from settling scores.
We always said that terrorism-fertile Syria is near Europe but Libya and Tunisia are nearer.
Raed Omari is a Jordanian journalist, political analyst, parliamentary affairs expert, and commentator on local and regional political affairs. His writing focuses on the Arab Spring, press freedoms, Islamist groups, emerging economies, climate change, natural disasters, agriculture, the environment and social media. He is a writer for The Jordan Times, and contributes to Al Arabiya English. He can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @RaedAlOmari2
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