Although It Has Much to Gain, Tunisia Is Unlikely to Normalize Its Relations with the Jewish State

Tunisia has much in common with the nearby countries of Egypt and Morocco, both of which have made peace with Israel. And unlike most Arab countries, it is home to a small but vibrant Jewish community. Yet it has thus far avoided joining the Abraham Accords in part because of an Islamist government and in part because it tends to side with Algeria—and thus with Iran—in the conflict between Algiers and Rabat. David Levy explains:

Despite Algeria’s concerns, economic desperation might force Tunisia to consider joining the Abraham Accords. Plagued as it is by severe economic problems, Tunisia needs foreign aid, and joining the Accords might attract loans from the U.S., the Gulf States, or others. However, such a move could have serious internal and regional implications. For now, the potential political costs and risks seem to outweigh the perceived benefits of normalization, leading Tunisian officials to deny claims that Tunisia is on the verge of joining the Abraham Accords.

Kais Saied, a political outsider, was elected president of Tunisia in a landslide in 2019. He proceeded to suspend parliament and dismiss the prime minister on the claim that he was saving the country from a corrupt and incompetent political elite. However, his detractors have denounced his actions as a coup that violated the democratically adopted constitution. Since then, Saied has consolidated his one-man rule. In early 2022, he dissolved the Supreme Judicial Council, ending judicial independence, and imposed a new constitution that gave him absolute authority. Saied has succeeded in strangling the Arab world’s only democracy.

As president, Saied has regularly made inflammatory statements about Jews and Israel, such as blaming them for the country’s economic and social problems, calling for a boycott of Israeli products, and praising Palestinian “resistance.”

Tunisia . . . is a Sunni, moderate, Western-allied state with a long and storied Jewish community, and it could benefit from the trade and tourism normalization would provide. However, deeper scrutiny reveals that an adverse public, a dependence on the Algerian relationship, and a president hostile to Israel make any near-term normalization doubtful.

Read more at BESA Center

More about: Abraham Accords, Israel diplomacy, Israel-Arab relations, Tunisia

How America Sowed the Seeds of the Current Middle East Crisis in 2015

Analyzing the recent direct Iranian attack on Israel, and Israel’s security situation more generally, Michael Oren looks to the 2015 agreement to restrain Iran’s nuclear program. That, and President Biden’s efforts to resurrect the deal after Donald Trump left it, are in his view the source of the current crisis:

Of the original motivations for the deal—blocking Iran’s path to the bomb and transforming Iran into a peaceful nation—neither remained. All Biden was left with was the ability to kick the can down the road and to uphold Barack Obama’s singular foreign-policy achievement.

In order to achieve that result, the administration has repeatedly refused to punish Iran for its malign actions:

Historians will survey this inexplicable record and wonder how the United States not only allowed Iran repeatedly to assault its citizens, soldiers, and allies but consistently rewarded it for doing so. They may well conclude that in a desperate effort to avoid getting dragged into a regional Middle Eastern war, the U.S. might well have precipitated one.

While America’s friends in the Middle East, especially Israel, have every reason to feel grateful for the vital assistance they received in intercepting Iran’s missile and drone onslaught, they might also ask what the U.S. can now do differently to deter Iran from further aggression. . . . Tehran will see this weekend’s direct attack on Israel as a victory—their own—for their ability to continue threatening Israel and destabilizing the Middle East with impunity.

Israel, of course, must respond differently. Our target cannot simply be the Iranian proxies that surround our country and that have waged war on us since October 7, but, as the Saudis call it, “the head of the snake.”

Read more at Free Press

More about: Barack Obama, Gaza War 2023, Iran, Iran nuclear deal, U.S. Foreign policy