Six years ago today, a wave of unrelenting pressure ousted Tunisian leader Zine El Abidine Ben Ali from power.
As a young security professional working in Tunisia it was some of the most challenging and yet interesting times of my career.
While the world learned about the small North African country, I was working tirelessly to ensure the security of the American Cooperative School of Tunis. I also faced the difficult challenge of maintaining the expat community informed during the turbulence.
To make matters even more interesting my 2nd daughter Maya Angela was born on December 23, 2010. I’m smiling as I write this but believe me I was not smiling too much back then.
The Tunisian revolution also known as the Jasmine Revolution was televised worldwide. It went on to be known as the birthplace of the Arab Spring.
The world watched as demonstrators protested against high unemployment, food inflation, corruption and most of all a lack of political freedoms. The protests resulted in scores of deaths and injuries, most of which were the result of action by police and security forces against demonstrators.
Our security team performed well during the revolution. INFORMATION was the key throughout it all. Our security network was able to assess risk and take proactive measures in real-time. We maintained a strong security posture while keeping the expat community informed and engaged throughout the historic events.
I didn’t mind that I wasn’t getting to spend too much time with my new born as I knew that we were living through historical times and one day I would be able to tell her all about it.
Work in Progress
Today many Tunisians are less optimistic about their country than they were 6 years ago. A sample of Tunisian public opinion highlights this:
“The new successive governments have failed to achieve the revolution’s demands,” Ahmed Al-Mansoury, a Tunisian activist, said.
“Since the revolution ended, we have been facing major difficulties,” Adil Al-Owainy, an antiques shop owner, said.
Tunisia remains the biggest exporter of foreign fighters to Syria and Libya. According to various reports, more than 5,000 left to join militant groups.
High unemployment has left the country’s young with little chance of earning a living. And while the homegrown militants fight overseas, the fear is that they’ll return and target the fragile state.
“The terror attacks have widely damaged the tourism and most of the businesses in Tunisia have been badly affected.”