Tunisia’s democracy needs help.. Will (President) Biden step in?” Foreign Policy deputy news editor Michael Hirsch opened his article, noting that the place where the Arab Spring began now presents a test for an administration committed to promoting democracy in the world.
The article described Tunisia as the last living heir of the Arab Spring, despite being a poor, isolated and geographically unimportant country, and how over the past decade every fledgling Arab democratic movement after another collapsed into civil war, Islamist sectarian hostility and tyranny that came back to life.
But Tunisia was the only country that seemed to have made a way forward to successfully navigate between “the lesser of two evils: the national security state and political Islam,” as described by Lebanese-American journalist Hisham Melhem.
That country's delicate experiment is now in danger of failing thanks to President Kais Saied's authoritarian coup since the weekend in which he sacked the prime minister, suspended parliament, seized control of the attorney general's office and banned public gatherings for 30 days.
He criticized the position of the US administration and the European Union that they issued only a mild reprimand, and in recent days Tunisia has disappeared from almost all the headlines.
He added that although US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken urged the Tunisian president to "adhere to the principles of democracy and human rights and maintain an open dialogue with all political actors and the Tunisian people," Said's so-called emergency measures are still in place.
The writer noted that Charles Dunn, a former senior diplomat with extensive experience in the Middle East, described the Biden administration's response to the crisis in Tunisia as an "critical situation."
Although Biden has embraced democracy as an issue, he has not indicated that he is interested in reviving what remains of the Arab Spring, and he practices realpolitik as much as he is an advocate of democracy.
It is also clear to a pragmatic man like him that democracy has not yet been highly rewarding for Tunisia
The former diplomat said there were "public statements in favor of democracy" but no real action, while "regional autocrats encourage and support the Tunisian president's seizure of power".
Tunisian President Kais Saied (Anatolia)
Critics such as Dunn believe that the US administration has seriously failed to achieve what Blinken said in an important speech on March 3, that there will be a new US policy "to stimulate democratic behavior and encourage others to make major reforms and fight corruption."
The writer hinted at what other observers and many human rights activists say that Biden can do more to deliver the message to the Tunisian president that the continued flow of international aid and investment should be conditioned on democratic behavior.
They believe that the US administration has a large number of other tools - apart from withholding foreign aid that is likely to be counterproductive in a poor country such as Tunisia - that it can use, including important symbolic tools such as the refusal of high-level meetings as well as practical options. Such as imposing existing human rights conditions on arms sales, "but they were very reluctant to use any of these tools," Dunn said.
The article stated that although Biden embraced democracy as an issue, it did not indicate that he is interested in reviving what remains of the Arab Spring, and that he practices realpolitik as much as he is an advocate of democracy.
It is also clear to a pragmatic man like Biden that democracy has not yet been highly rewarding for Tunisia.
The writer concluded his article with what some experts believe that the Arab Spring is not dead, it is only a period of hibernation, but these societies need external encouragement, especially against tyrannical rulers.Keywords: