TS Update-(Kairouan & Smart Travelers)

As always, here at the Tunisia Security Update, we make sure to verify any sort of rumor before posting it as fact.  On Wednesday January 25th, there was a rumor going around mainly on social networks concerning a “salafists group “attacking” a group of German tourists that were trying to visit the mausoleum of Sidi Sahbi in Kairouan“.  After consulting with various security sources we are still unable to fully confirm the details of this alleged incident.

What we do know is that the story was aired on the Tunisian radio station Shems FM and additional security sources have concluded that something to this effect did take place. While the fact that the story received a lot of attention on social networks and was aired on a radio station doesn’t automatically validate it, it’s still a good reminder about the importance of situational awareness.

Although according to one source, local security forces reacted properly and professionally, the alleged incident is a good example of what I call “Expat Awareness”.  This is especially true for those who are traveling outside the Tunis region. In a recent interview the Tunisian Prime Minister,  Hamadi Jebali stated “serious security breaches in key sectors” as the cause of major economic disorder.

Small but vocal…

Security analysts have smartly labeled the Salafist in Tunisia as a “small but vocal minority“.  While we absolutely know that they don’t represent the vast majority of open-minded and friendly Tunisians, we can not ignore the role they’re playing in the new security landscape.  It is important to note that a recent report on one of the leading salafist group in Tunisia concluded that “based on the content the group has released in the form of statements, essays, and videos, the group does not seem interested in global or local jihad.  Rather, most of the issues the group is agitated about deal with local problems, and they have expressed their views through peaceful protests.”

Clever Travelers…

The UK website gets it right on the money on their Tunisia travel advice page where they empathize that “Most visits to Tunisia are trouble-free, but all travelers should be aware of the current political and security situation…”  This statement summarizes our view here at the Tunisia Security Update… Awareness is the Key and Knowledge is Protection.  

 

Tunisia Security Update

Your source in Tunisia for relevant and practical security information…


TS Update-(Major Strike Suspended)

In my last post I mentioned that it would be interesting to see what impact the proposed January 25th workers strike would have on the county and now it appears that the strike is suspended.  The politics of why it was suspended are well beyond the scope of this blog, as we primarily focus on giving Expats relevant & practical security advice.  That being said it’s still interesting to note that  the committee responsible for organizing the major strike is going to be active from January 25th until March 30th.  One of their organizers has stated that after March 30th, if they’re not satisfied with the outcome,  they will resume the general strike.

Protests & Strikes….

It’s fair to say that for the foreseeable future the threats and actions of mass protests & strikes will be a common occurrence not only in Tunisia, but also throughout the world.  As Expats, our best option is to stay informed, connect with the places we visit, and use good personal safety measures.  We have to make sense of all the information that’s out there for us to consume so that we can easily adapt to the ever-changing security landscape.

Tunisia Security Update
Your source in Tunisia for relevant and practical security information…

 

 

 

TS Update-(Protest Update)

Last January it was pretty difficult to keep up with all the different events that were going on in Tunisia.  This January the task (albeit not as dramatic), has proved equally challenging. With all these sporadic protests and strikes taking place throughout the country, staying up to date on security matters in 2012 is no easy task. A simple recap of some of the strikes & protests that have taken place in just  the last 3 months proves this point:

  • October 4, 2011- “Just seventeen days before the Constituent Assembly elections, a number of strikes have begun, demanding higher wages and greater rights for a variety of workers.”
  • November 28, 2011– Tunisia’s police protest demanding fair treatment.
  • December 3, 2011-Thousands of Tunisian Islamists and secularists gathered near the parliament building in the capital, Tunis, Saturday in rival protests.

A government official has gone as far as to label this protest movement as an “outbreak“.  On December 20th 2011,  the Yazaki corporation decided they had enough of the ‘outbreak’ and pulled out of the southwestern mining region of Gafsa.  Even in the normally more calm areas such is Carthage & La Marsa, workers have decided to organize several disruptive protests and sit-ins.  On Tuesday, January 17th,  municipality workers closed several streets in the La Marsa & Carthage area in an organized protest to demand better wages and treatment.

Protest Update

The Tunisian Associated Press (TAP) has reported that “35,000 workers from various sectors were scheduled to take part in a general strike on January 25th.” The strike will be a culmination of all the other strikes and protests that have taken place throughout the country.  It will be interesting to see what if any impact this major protest will have throughout the country.

The nature of these sporadic protests and strikes makes it difficult for even the most informed Tunisian to comprehend the full dynamics of the situation, so it’s no surprise that Expats are scratching their heads  trying to figure what’s going on.

Expats dealing with Protests

Although it must be noted that the vast majority of protests are not only peaceful but also well-organized, we must take precaution and be aware of them.  These simple yet effective points will assist you in your journey through Tunisia at this point in time:

  1.  Political protest and industrial action remains high, especially in the southwest (map on the right) of the country.
  2. As per various embassy travel advise:  “State of Emergency still exists and curfews or other temporary movement restrictions may be imposed or changed with little or no notice. You should observe instructions given by local security authorities and/or your tour operator. You are advised to carry a copy of your passport, or other form of photo ID, at all times as proof of nationality and identity.”
  3. Lastly, if you’re feeling motivated and want to be a part of these protests perhaps you may want to reconsider that option and simply avoid them.

We will continue to monitor the situation and  keep providing you with relevant and practical security updates. 

Tunisia Security 
Update

TS Update-(New Year…New Challenges)

2011…what a year!  Security professionals will be studying 2011 for years to come.  From the Jasmine Revolution to the Occupy Wall Street movement, so much happened and so much was learned.

On a day like today former president Ben Ali went on television to make his famous “I understand you speech“.  

“I am telling you I understand you, yes, I understand you,” Ben Ali declared. “And I decided: total freedom for the media with all its channels and no shutting down Internet sites and rejecting any form of monitoring of it.”

Too little too late…and with that the world witnessed the first “live revolution”.  Yet here we are one year later with new challenges before us.

Areas of Concern

The following 2 quotes is what concerns me the most about the present day security situation.  The first echos a regional concern shared by the new Libyan government, Morocco, Algeria, and of course Tunisia.  Indeed one of the factors that made the Tunisian revolution such a humanitarian success was the fact that weapons were mostly not accessible.  The second quote came from a young Tunisian male who still feels that his original complaints and demands have not been met by the new government.

  1. “Weapons smuggling from Libya poses a “severe” threat to the security of the Sahel (North African) region.”- Algerian military analysts warn.
  2. “The rulers of the country are sitting on seats stained with our blood. They haven’t given us our rights. They must understand that the revolution will resume if we don’t get our rights. Last time the revolution was triggered with stones, this time it’ll be more than stones.”-Mohamed Boughanmi, 38.

Situational Awareness …still remains the key

Now more than ever, situational awareness is the key to staying safe and enjoying Tunisia.  No updated travel restrictions have been announced, there have been no new warnings or advisories posted by embassies, and a recent poll stated that “more than 90 per cent of Tunisians are optimistic about the course their country is taking, despite problems related to continuing unemployment, strikes and unresolved social demands.”

That being said no one can deny that the security situation is still challenging and we are a long way from business as usual.