Tunisia is currently suffering from poor security, a bad economy, and a polarized society. The situation is starting to look a lot like Egypt.
Mohammed Brahmi is the second high-level opposition politician to be assassinated in Tunisia over the past six months. The repercussions of the assassinations are threatening to destabilize the country both politically and economically.
The breaches in security that allowed for the recent assassinations are just one manifestation of the vast challenges the current government in Tunisia faces. Government forces have been trying to track down and eliminate radical extremists since December. Recent air strikes against militants in the Mount Chaambi region show that the Ennahda Party–led government is recognizing, albeit belatedly, the growing threat posed by radical extremists and is taking more assertive steps to combat them, restore order, and regain some of the popular support that the government has lost in recent months.
The Tunisian economy has yet to make a comeback since the ousting of authoritarian leader Ben Ali. High gas prices, strikes in the phosphate industry, and overall slow economic growth continue to plague the country. Unemployment has climbed as high as 30 percent in some parts of the country. According to a Pew Research poll, 81 percent of Tunisians believe corruption has increased since the revolution.
A stagnant economy, poor security, corruption, and allegations that Ennahda has failed to deliver are just some of the issues that are reminiscent of pre-second-revolution Egypt. Both countries have a polarized society split along the lines of secularism and Islamism. Many argue that Ennahda, an Islamist party inspired by the Muslim Brotherhood, has failed to deliver on a majority of the revolution’s goals.
In the same Pew poll conducted before Morsi’s ouster in Egypt, Tunisian dissatisfaction with the direction of the country was greater than Egypt’s by 16 percent. If Egyptians decided to depose their leader with significantly less dissatisfaction than Tunisians have, something in Tunisia has to give.
Andrew Scarpitta is currently a member of the Young Leaders Program at The Heritage Foundation. For more information on interning at Heritage, please click here.