Greetings Fellow Expats,
I am in the process of writing a Personal Security & Safety Guidebook for Expats living in Tunisia and would love your feedback.
What topics would you like to see cover? No topic is off limits…email your suggestions to: email@example.com
Personal safety 101…Overview of Security Situation…Hot Spots…Crime & Safety…Local Travel…Getting Connected…Emergency Situations…Residential Security…Documentation….Dealing with the authorities...Driving in Tunisia…Local Laws & Customs…Expat Community...Networking…Having fun (safely)…etc.,
(help other Expats during these challenging times by providing thoughtful suggestions …all entries will remain confidential)
I hope you all enjoyed the Eid break and found ways to recharge your batteries. I just came back from Hammamet we had a fun & relaxing time. It was my first time out of Tunis since September 14th so I was loving every minute of it.
It was interesting to observe and interact with tourists who were just “passing by Tunisia”…indeed their assessment of the security situation is…well let’s just say that they are much more relaxed about it. And why shouldn’t they be? Most of the guests that I talked to went from their country’s airport to the hotel and back home.
As Expats we cannot afford to be detached & uninformed …we actually live here.
Expat Security Setup
We know that there are thriving Expat communities in far more challenging cities than Tunis. We know that Expats in Rio De Janeiro, Johannesburg, Bogotá, and Caracas (just to name a few), find ways to safely enjoy their expat experience.
The major difference with Tunis is that (a) the political arena is in a state of flux & (b) security has been politicized. These factors will remain relevant at least until the next elections (June 2013?)…
September 14th was a loud wake up call for Expats…now we know…and so we have to change our setup. Taking nothing for granted, understanding that the most important components to our personal safety & security are: Awareness + Networking + Avoidance.
4-Main trouble areas
October 23rd, 2012 was probably one of the most peaceful days in the history of Tunisia. Still, there is no doubt that we’ll face significant security challenges ahead. There is simply too much friction in the political arena along with a long list of trouble areas to expect things to “settle down”.
Political Tensions: The war of words between Ennahda (Islamists) and Nida Tounes (secularists) is getting more aggressive everyday and its only a matter of time before words turn into action. Don’t be surprise to see more “political protests and unrest”…
Economy: Got milk? Went to buy a six pack of milk today…”no” said the cashier…”you’re only entitled to buy 2 at a time…oh and by the way…the price has been raised…” Don’t be surprise to see ” economic protests and unrest”…
Universities: There’s no doubt in my mind that Tunisian universities will be a central battle ground between Islamists & Secularists…things will heat up at various campuses so don’t be surprise when they start making headlines.
Conservative Shift: Finally…and probably the area where Expats will feel it the most…is the visible conservative shift that has taken place all throughout Tunisia. I will not be surprise to read more stories such as this:
“On Saturday night, a group of hardline Salafi Muslims attacked alcohol vendors in their small shops, a security official said. Police intervened to stop the violence.”
Thank you for all the nice emails & updates. Let’s keep the good flow going…remember: “We’re in it together!”
Make no mistake about it…there will be challenges this week. How extensive and serious things will get is anybody’s guess but there’s not one security officer out there who is willing to say that this week will be business as usual.
Lets do the math
You don’t need a degree in political science or a background in security to figure out why things can easily take a turn for the worse.
- the UGTT organized a meeting which brought together over 60 political groups to “cooperate in thrashing out the details of the draft constitution.”
- Two key parties in the ruling coalition, Ennahda and Marzouki’s Congress for the Republic, boycotted the meeting due to the presence of Call of Tunisia, founded by ex-premier Beji Caid Essebsi, who they consider a remnant of the former regime.
- The meeting resulted in the rejection, by those parties that did attend, of a proposal by the government to hold elections on June 23, and with no agreement on a timetable for adopting the new constitution.
- Essebsi’s increasingly popular party claims the government will lose its legitimacy on October 23, a year after the Assembly was elected, because it was committed to drafting a new constitution within 12 months.
Wait & See…
As Expats we don’t have the luxury of adopting a “wait and see” approach when it comes to our security & safety. Unfortunately, because Tunisia is going through such unprecedented changes we are forced to wait and see what happens (which technically means to hope for the best and prepare for the worst).
While hoping for the best is pretty easy…preparing for the worst can be a bit more challenging.
Preparedness is the defined as the state of being prepared for specific or unpredictable events or situations. The British embassy in Tunis has a good summary of this week’s challenge on their site:
23rd October 2012 marks the one year anniversary of the country’s first democratic elections. As this date marks a date considered widely to be a deadline for delivery of the new constitution (which has not been met) there is a possibility that this date will trigger political demonstrations and other forms of protest throughout the country.
Think about this as you plan your week ahead.
Information flying at the speed of light…too much to contain…too sketching to offer concise analysis…
Here’s a recap of this week & some tips for Friday:
Tuesday, October 16th
Wednesday, October 17th
Thursday, October 18th
“Clashes between Islamists and secular opponents in the southern Tunisian town of Tataouine on Thursday left a secular politician dead, a local official and resident said.
The violence broke out during a march organized by a group of Islamists close to the Ennahda party, which leads Tunisia’s Islamist government.”
Friday, October 19th
Let’s be prepared for Friday. At the very least we can expect protests in downtown Tunis. There will be a lot of political activity with different parties releasing statements.
Additionally, the social media sites will be packed with rumors, plots, and theories.
Keys to Success for tomorrow…
- Network updated: By network I mean your contacts, circle of friends, people at work, etc. Sharing & receiving relevant information is more important than ever.
- Move with a purpose: If you are out have a purpose and clear destination. Tomorrow is not the day to “discover the medina” at 1:30pm.
- Avoid & adjust: Avoid all protests and large crowds. Additionally, avoid high volume places at peak times. Finally, adjust your daily routine to the situation and remain flexible.
Once again let’s continue to share information. Remember…for rapid updates visit my facebook page at: Tunisia Security Update or tweet me @DavidSecurity.
Intelligence analysis is a way of reducing the uncertainty of highly unpredictable situations by systematically reviewing open source information.
Tunisia faces a crucial week ahead and as Expats we need to make sure that we’re aware of the various developing stories taking place this week.
Setting the Stage…
It was announced today (Sunday, 14 Oct), that the Tunisian political and presidential elections will be held on June 23, 2013, but will this announcement be enough to:
a. satisfy those who firmly claim that October 23rd is the last day for the current government?
b. address the security concerns regarding statements made by various salafists groups?
In other words, will this announcement finally put to rest the issues revolving around October 23rd?
While the short answer is NO…the truth is that nobody really knows how things will play out.
What we do know…
I would like to point out (1) developing story which highlights the seriousness of the situation we are facing:
Article: Salafist Sheikh Khamis Mejri reveals: attacks are planned in Tunisia
Source: Business News
Key Excerpt: The words of Sheikh Mejri were marked by two important revelations… Firstly, he noted that weapons circulate in large numbers in the country and that the attacks are planned. This is hard data and not mere assumptions and other deductions.” Sheikh Khamis announced then that the Salafi youth is certainly for the moment, under control, but if the repression continues, nothing can be guaranteed, as these young people may have uncontrollable behavior even if the leaders forbid them…
Analysis: As Expats we have to understand that not only did a revolution just take place in Tunisia, but we’re also in the midst of a very competitive political campaign. Whether the Sheikh’s words were a veil threat to others in the political arena or an honest assessment of the situationt, the fact is that he went on the record to make those declarations. As such we have to take him seriously.
According to the head of the Council of Arab Interior Ministers: “Political turmoil which has swept the Arab world has benefited “terrorism” and criminality” Mr. Mohamed Ben Ali Koumane stated that the “preachers of terrorism have profited from the security deficit.”
Fortunately, Tunisia has the necessary tools to get through this challenging period. This month we’ll see how well they deal with the October 23rd challenges.
As Expats we need to maintain a high degree of personal safety & situational awareness.
Let’s keep sharing information and helping each other out.
Stay safe out there.
What a great day! Productive day at work…played a fun game of soccer with some friends…enjoyed a lovely dinner with my wife… things went well.
Like most Fridays, information was flowing and the energy level was high. All week I’ve been asked the same question over and over…“what do you think will happen on the 23rd?”
Once again I would like to refer to the well written article on Al-Ahram Weekly which does a good job of outlining all the possible scenarios:
“Will the troika government leave power? Will the constituent assembly be dissolved? Could there even be civil conflict if no consensus can be reached, or will the troika government continue in office indefinitely?…All, some or none of this could happen. “
Today in Egypt, Islamists and so called liberals threw stones, bottles and petrol bombs, at each other in Tahrir square. The recent leaked video that shows Ennahda party leader Rached Ghannouchi and a group of Salafists having a “strategic conversation”, has only increased the divide between Islamists and secularists.
One thing we’ve learned from this 2 year cycle is that what happens in one Arab Spring country, has a tendency to repeat itself around the region.
Will this be the case in Tunisia? Fortunately the divide is not as deep but there was at least one report today of “the faithful throwing stones against the police as they left the mosque of El Fateh after Friday prayers”.
It’s interesting to note that the Head of Ennahdha will announce the date for next year’s elections on October 18th. On that same day an Austrian delegation will visit Tunisia, with purpose of “identifying and valorising the business and investment opportunities offered by the two countries and developing bilateral co-operation between them.”
These delegations usually do their research before travelling so they’re obviously optimistic about the situation. As for me I will remain vigilant and cautiously optimistic.