September Rift

As the last days of  Summer begin to fade and the official Tunisian political campaign season gets underway, we begin to see the chess pieces moving.  In a speech to the nation, Tunisian Prime Minister Beji Caid Essebsi “imposed a ban on any union activity in the nation’s security forces” and made a few other comments that were worth noting.  Essentially,  the Prime Minster has picked a fight with the security forces referring to a small percentage amongst them as “monkeys”.

It is no mystery that break ins and other petty crimes are on the rise throughout Tunisia and that morale is low among security forces.  During the course of the last few weeks we have visited many police stations throughout Tunis and our impression is that security forces are overstretched to say the least.  The combination of increase pressure + the negative tone that is taking place between the security forces and the interim government; is not a good development for the overall security in Tunisia.

Crime Triangle

Security experts agree that in order for a crime to take place (3) factors have to come together:  Desire, Target and Opportunity.  Whether in a police state or in a state of anarchy, we have the power to greatly influence 2 out of 3 factors.  It is always a good practice to conduct a quick situational assessment of your environment.  The more you know about your surroundings, the less of a target you become.  Criminals desire easy targets, don’t give them the chance.

On the issue of Opportunity, You control this by paying attention to your environment. Are you in a bad area of town? Are you walking in an unlit area? Are you in a secluded area?  Limiting opportunities is all about awareness and listening to that inner voice.

It’s interesting to discuss this issue with other security professions because we know that in any other major city, people automatically apply these practical measures, but for some reason (perhaps because of the beautiful blue sky and lay back nature of Tunisians), Expats have a tough time remembering basic personal safety guidelines.

It can not be overstated, especially during the run up to October 23rd, the importance of implementing basic personal safety guidelines:  Situational Awareness, Buddy System, Changing Routes, Staying Updated, Neighborhood Awareness, and Emergency Planning.

Criminals are not stupid, they know how to read between the lines and when they hear that there is a rift between the security forces and the interim government, they will feel even more embolden to commit crimes.

So take matters into your own hands and do whatever you can do to reduce being a Target.

Quotes Worth Analyzing

“It is astonishing that each time elections approach, denigration campaigns and trouble arise.  The elections will take place on October 23. Our aim is to ensure that a transparent and free poll takes place for the first time in this country.”-Caid Essebsi

Hated and feared under Ben Ali, Tunisia’s police feel they are being used as scapegoats for the country’s post-revolution woes while the army got all the prestige for its involvement in the transition.-AFP

“Remove Caid Essebsi”, “Clean up the interior ministry”, were some of the slogans chanted by the demonstrating police officers.-AFP







Post Eid-Back to Reality

The International Community is putting the word out that we are in fact “witnessing the last moments of the Gaddafi regime.”  A few nights ago, sounds of celebration and cheers roared throughout different Tunisian streets.  Libyans and Tunisians joined together to celebrate what they feel is the beginning of a new era.  As things start to settle in Tripoli, more and more leaders will come out to congratulate the Libyan people and wish them all the best, but in reality this transition will just initiate a whole new playing field.

According to many security analysts,  Libyans face a tough road ahead which include “tribal rivalries, an east-west divide, a rebel leadership lacking coherence, a shattered economy and the absence of a civil society”.  These are just a few of the challenges that a post-Gaddafi Libya will face, not to mention regional and international issues.

Libya:  ‘Security fundamental to future’

In a recent press conference, European Union’s Foreign Policy Chief, Baroness Catherine Ashton, stated that ‘security is fundamental for the future of Libya.’  In more ways than one, the same is true for Tunisia.  Not only does Tunisia have a vested interested in the success and security within Libya, but their very futures are interconnected.

The Foreign Policy Chief made (3) excellent points which are relevant to the overall security in Tunisia:

  1. To ensure that so many guns and weapons within the civilian population, are brought under control.
  2. Making sure borders are secure.
  3. Dealing with the dynamics of an internal police force.

Positive & Negative-Impacts on Tunisia

(+) Hopefully the end to the Libyan humanitarian crisis.  It is no secret that the Libyan crisis has put a huge strain on both the Tunisian economy as well as their security resources.  According to a study by the African Development Bank (AfDB),  exports to Libya were down 34 per cent, while imports recorded a 95 per cent decline. Additionally, the Tunisian security forces have dealt  with continuous security threats at the border  ranging from gun fights to smuggling.

(-) Assuming that things settle down quickly and peacefully in Tripoli, the new Libyan government will still have a lot on their hands. There are many questions and wild cards that this new paradigm has opened, not least of which are border security, arms control, and economic cooperation.

The Tunisian Hope

There is a great article entitled:  “Don’t forget Tunisia, where democracy has a better chance to work”, written by RUDY RUBIN  of The Philadelphia Inquirer, that highlights why Tunisia stands a better chance at democracy than countries like Egypt, Yemen, and Libya:

  1. Institutions which work, well-educated people (youths) and educated women.
  2. Unlike Libya, Tunisia is not a tribal society, and its institutions were not crushed by a former ruler.
  3. Unlike Egypt, Tunisia’s population is small (10.5 million) and 90 percent literate.
  4. Unlike Syria or Iraq, Tunisia is not plagued by sectarian divides; 99 percent of its people are Sunni Muslims.
  5. Tunisia started the Arab revolution. With its homogeneous population and educated middle class, it has the best prospect of providing a role model for the rest.

Stay Tune for more groundbreaking information as we start a 3-Part Series entitled:  Tunisia Community Profiles, in which we will go on the streets with hopes of giving readers a 360 degree view of the security situation in Carthage, La Marsa, and Laouina