Tunisians Are Disenchanted with Islamist Rule

Early Monday morning, the president of Tunisia—the birthplace of the Arab Spring, and long held to be its sole success story—dismissed the prime minister and cabinet, and had the military surround the parliament. Benny Avni argues that the coup might not be the worst possible outcome:

Yes, Ennahda, the country’s largest party, is loosely affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, went the received wisdom in the West. It is, though, only mildly Islamist and has vowed to maintain democratic values—including by supporting in 2014 a constitution that guaranteed basic freedoms.

It turns out Tunisians weren’t buying it. Islamist sensibilities crept in, often enforced by Ennahda officials. The Mediterranean beaches that attracted tourists, the country’s main source of hard cash, emptied out after an Islamic State gunman killed 38 people at a resort [in the coast city of] Sousse in 2015. Even before that, Islamist enforcers barred locals from freely enjoying those beaches as they had enjoyed them in earlier decades.

Political Islam has ruined many dreams of liberty across the region. . . . Tunisians are increasingly disenchanted with the country’s downward spiral in recent years. For many of them [Ennahda is] the main culprit. The president’s army-backed sacking of the government, and his threat to bring Ennahda officials to trial, put the kibosh in any democratic aspirations, but the move may well prove popular among a majority of Tunisians that is sick and tired of being sick and poor.

Read more at New York Sun

More about: Arab Spring, Islamism, Tunisia


Iran’s Program of Subversion and Propaganda in the Caucasus

In the past week, Iranian proxies and clients have attacked Israel from the West Bank, Gaza, Lebanon, and Yemen. Iran also has substantial military assets in Iraq and Syria—countries over which it exercises a great deal of control—which could launch significant attacks on Israel as well. Tehran, in addition, has stretched its influence northward into both Azerbaijan and Armenia. While Israel has diplomatic relations with both of these rival nations, its relationship with Baku is closer and involves significant military and security collaboration, some of which is directed against Iran. Alexander Grinberg writes:

Iran exploits ethnic and religious factors in both Armenia and Azerbaijan to further its interests. . . . In Armenia, Iran attempts to tarnish the legitimacy of the elected government and exploit the church’s nationalist position and tensions between it and the Armenian government; in Azerbaijan, the Iranian regime employs outright terrorist methods similar to its support for terrorist proxies in the Middle East [in order to] undermine the regime.

Huseyniyyun (Islamic Resistance Movement of Azerbaijan) is a terrorist militia made up of ethnic Azeris and designed to fight against Azerbaijan. It was established by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps . . . in the image of other pro-Iranian militias. . . . Currently, Huseyniyyun is not actively engaged in terrorist activities as Iran prefers more subtle methods of subversion. The organization serves as a mouthpiece of the Iranian regime on various Telegram channels in the Azeri language. The main impact of Huseyniyyun is that it helps spread Iranian propaganda in Azerbaijan.

The Iranian regime fears the end of hostilities between Armenia and Azerbaijan because this would limit its options for disruption. Iranian outlets are replete with anti-Semitic paranoia against Azerbaijan, accusing the country of awarding its territory to Zionists and NATO. . . . Likewise, it is noteworthy that Armenian nationalists reiterate hideous anti-Semitic tropes that are identical to those spouted by the Iranians and Palestinians. Moreover, leading Iranian analysts have no qualms about openly praising [sympathetic] Armenian clergy together with terrorist Iran-funded Azeri movements for working toward Iranian goals.

Read more at Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security

More about: Azerbaijan, Iran, Israeli Security