TS Update-(Siliana…into the night)

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“Early on Friday, a “symbolic” march a few kilometres (miles) towards Tunis drew a crowd of thousands, who took part on foot, in cars and on motorcycles, chanting: “With our souls and our blood we sacrifice for Siliana.”

My Tunisian friends & family tell me this is going to be BIG…but I’m still not fully convinced.  They say the events resemble the build up that took place in December 2010 which eventual lead up to the mass uprising on January 2011.  Although I can see their point…I am not totally convinced.  

What is clear is that the opposition is taking a strong position in Siliana and there’s a lot of supportive chatter on the social media sites.  Here’s a good assessment of the current situation:  

“At a time when Siliana is in an uproar that risks spreading to other areas in the west and north-west, Ennahda, the majority party in the Troika, is refusing to order the Interior Ministry to cease using force against protesters.”

Expat Awareness

Our best tools continue to be reliable information + situational awareness.  Remember, a “state of emergency still exists and curfews or other temporary movement restrictions may be imposed or changed with little or no notice”—>Stay Informed

Information sharing & networking are also valuable tools.  A BIG thank you to all those subscribers who continue to send good information—>Expat Connection

Hopefully this will be my last post for this week…unless the situation escalates.

Enjoy your weekend.  

TS Update-(Siliana Situation)

Greetings Expats,

A lot of activities today throughout Tunisia.  Remember that situational awareness + information are your best tools on Fridays.  

Update on the current developing situation…

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  1. Renewed violence in Siliana-Demonstrators move towards the Kasbah of Tunis

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2. Clashes between hundreds of protesters, security forces resume in Siliana

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3.  Protests are spreading throughout the country

 

 

TS Update-(Siliana Advisory)

Greetings Expats,

As reports continue to surface about the ongoing clashes between Tunisian security forces and protesters in the town of Siliana…it’s time we take a closer look at what’s going on.   

The AFP reported that “More than 250 people were wounded on Wednesday in a second day of clashes between Tunisian security forces and thousands of protesters in a poor southwestern town”.  It’s important to recognize that what’s happening in Siliana is a combination of various factors and may trigger greater unrest.

Siliana Factors

  • Economic: chronic lack of development, high unemployment, high discontent
  • Political:   Discontent with current government:  Many protesters called for the resignation of local officials, saying the authorities had failed to release development funds for their region.

Additionally, the protesters demand the following: “The liberation of 14 people detained during violent unrest in April 2011 and funds to boost economic development in the impoverished region, as well as the governor’s resignation.”

The last demand has the highest potential to escalate the situation further.  It’s interesting to note that as “several thousand protesters turned out for a second day to call for the resignation of Ahmed Ezzine Mahjoubi, the governor of Siliana”, Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali insisted in a brief television appearance that “this governor is not quitting.”

Expat Awareness

Siliana Tunisia

Obviously, now is not the best time to visit the southwestern region of Tunisia.  It should be noted that on Wednesday a  group of young men also “cut off the main road to Siliana to prevent the arrival of reinforcements”.  Additionally, we can expect solidarity protests to take place in downtown Tunis.

More importantly let’s continue to follow the guideline concerning protests which states to:  

“Avoid all forms of demonstration. While many protests pass without incident there is the possibility of injury if you are caught up in a demonstration that does not remain peaceful. If you become aware of any nearby violence you should leave the area immediately…”

Stay informed of the developments by:  

Let’s continue to share info & keep each other informed.  

 

TS Update-(Situational Awareness-Best Tool for Expats)

Greetings Expats,

I hope everyone has enjoyed the past few days of beautiful weather and calmness.  Times like these remind us about the beauty and vast potential that exists in this colorful Mediterranean country.

Expats often ask me questions such as:  “David is this place safe…what do you think of that town…I’m planing a trip to this part of  Tunis etc.”  Although we are able to provide a risk assessment for every region in Tunisia, the best thing any Expat can do is to adopt a Security Mindset.

Basically it comes down to one thing:  a·ware·ness…

Recently, I had the privilege of conducting a Situational Awareness/Self Defense training workshop with a group of Expats.  Assisted by a certified Self Defense instructor, we empowered many Expats with practical and effective situational awareness techniques.  Situational Awareness training enables people to turn nervous energy into proactive action.  After completing the training many Expats realized that nothing happens out of thin air and by adopting a few practical & effective security techniques their perception of security was greatly improved.

The situation in Tunisia has entered a new stage…currently things are quite, but analysts foresee many challenges ahead.

Challenges Ahead

From my conversations with friends in the cafés to my research of open source information, one thing is clear:  There is a lot behind the scenes activities taking place and things could easily go from stable to something similar as what’s taking place in Egypt.

(3) Recent articles make this point clear:  

Tunisians fear jihadist wave

Source:  Magharebia-November 23rd, 2012:

From the street to the highest levels of government, Tunisians say that the growing influence of jihadists puts the country’s democratic transition in jeopardy

Tunisia PM seeks Western funds “before it’s too late”

Source:  Reuters-November 20th, 2012:  

“My message to the West … is that the most important investment for you is the investment in democracy, before it’s too late … This is not a gift but a common interest.”

Tunisia:  Radical Islamist Movements Threaten Afro-Med Stability

Source:  allAfrica.com-November 9, 2012

Islamist extremist movements endanger the security and stability of the entire Mediterranean basin, Tunisian Defence Minister Abdelkarim Zbidi warned this week.

Once again thank you for all the good feedback. Let’s continue working together.  

TS Update-(Friday…Security Increase)

Greetings Expats…

As always we are extra vigilant on Fridays and I wanted to share some information which we received from our contacts:  Please feel free to share & contribute:  

Bad News Buildup 

The combination of the “death of an inmate in the case of the attack on the U.S. embassy” and the developing story in Gaza are the primary reasons for today’s (Friday Nov. 16) extra security presence.  

Friday Setup

Remember to continue exercising extra vigilance during your Friday routine.:

  • Avoid downtown Tunis from 1:30pm-5pm
  • If commuting make sure you are traveling through safe roads 
  • Avoid any form of protest or large gatherings

Although  we’ve seen the security situation improve during the last few weeks, there is simply too much cautionary information for us to adopt a low threat level posture.  

Let’s continue to share information and work together.  

TS Update-(Good start for November)

Greetings Expats…

It’s amazing how quick we get used to things.  This has been one of the quietest week for me and I feel a bit strange about not having to follow up on “breaking news” or trying to analyze a developing situation, etc.  I recently read an article about stress and  how it lowers  one’s immunity which can lead to “many physical as well as emotional problems, including irritability and depression.”  Needless to say I am glad that this has been (so far) a stress free week.  

Challenges ahead…

The security situation in Tunisia will continue to fluctuate and present expats with unexpected challenges.  As such we need to have a good pulse on the flow of information so that we are not caught by surprise.  Here are the issues which are worth monitoring:   

1.  Salafists Related Activities:  The alcohol  issue is gaining more and more attention. A few headlines prove the point:  

  • October 29, 2012:  Tunisian officer wounded in clashes between Salafists, alcohol sellers.
  • October 30, 2012:  Tunisian Salafists cut off man’s fingers for selling alcohol.
  • November 7, 2012:  Mr Ghannouchi renews his call to boycott any establishment which serves/sells alcohol.

2.  Constitutional Process:  As time goes on critical reviews & opinions about the new constitution will start circulating among the general public.  An example of this is Chokri Belaid, party secretary-general of the Movement of Patriotic Democrats, statements concerning the constitution:   “It is a shame…not a constitution for national sovereignty and the rights and freedoms but rather a set of slogans dummies and bottles for the establishment of a new dictatorship in the country.”

3.  Political tension:  During the build up of October 23rd and a few weeks after that we saw a lot of negative rhetoric between several political parties.  The media was painting a conservative vs. secular scenario sweeping through the Arab spring countries.   Although things have toned down somewhat, political tension remains relevant and worth monitoring.  

Nidaa Tounes (major opposition party), will host a conference on Sunday, November 11th under an increase security presence  due to the many threat they’ve received from Committees to Defend the Revolution.  

Stay ahead…

Although things have calmed down it’s important to stay aware, connected, and informed.  As JFK once said:  “The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining.”

Let’s keep sharing information and working together…

TS Update-(Friday, November 2)

Greetings Expats…

There is a lot of information regarding today’s (Friday, November 2) possible activities so let’s do an information review of the situation:

Here’s why there is a lot of nervous energy today:  

  • New imam of the mosque “Al Nour” Douar Hicher calls for jihad
  • Escalation of violence in Manouba
  • A lot of nervous chatter among every day Tunisians
  • Increase security challenges

Here’s why security professionals are going with a wait & see approach:

  • Since 9/14 the information circulating on social media sites simply does not match the realities on the ground
  • A noticeable improvement in terms of readiness among military & police security forces
  • Security contacts have identified the areas of concern as:  Manouba (Western Tunis) & Tunis Centre Ville (downtown Tunis)

Here’s what we can actually do:

  • Continue our Friday precaution routine:  Simply adjust your Friday afternoon so that you are not out “exploring Tunisia” between 1-4pm.
  • Stay Informed:  Continue to monitor the information and most importantly be sure to share any relevant information that you feel could help other Expats.
  • Readiness:  Make sure your setup is optimal in the event that you would have to stay home for 1-2 days.

Most importantly be sure to turn your nervous energy into positive actions.  Let’s keep sharing information and helping each other throughout this process.

Hope we have a safe Friday and a lovely weekend ahead.