TS Update-(Bizerte Perspective)

Greetings Expats,

Screen shot 2013-05-29 at 8.52.40 AM

I wanted to share a little perspective today…  I know that most Expats are really enjoying their time here in Tunisia.  Yes they are concerned about the security situation and yes they want to be informed but they prefer (quite understandably) not to get into the nitty gritty details.

Yesterday all my information sources were pretty much flashing the same headline:  “Clashes in Bizerte…one person killed… watch out in Tunisia..”  We even posted an update on the situation to alert our subscribers, but here’s the rest of the story:  

As most of you know I work as a security coordinator and on a daily basis I am constantly talking and interacting with local security guards.  I told one of our “regular guards” about the situation in Bizerte and he was concerned by the report.  After our conversation he stated that his aunt lives right near the place were the clashes took place and that he would be more than happy to call her to get a personal account.  

He called her on my office phone and put her on speaker.  After the initial greetings (which took about 5 minutes…) he managed to ask her about the incident.  “Oh yes…” she casually stated, “there was a big fuss this morning and one of the vendors a very old man even had a heart attack and died but it’s all quiet now…”  (the account was in less than 1 minute).  

After that she started asking about his kids and how they were doing and why he didn’t visit her in Bizerte (this took about 3 minutes).  After hanging up he smiled and told me “see everything is alright”.  

I kept receiving even more emails about the alarming situation in Bizerte and the potential for more unrest…etc…..

what’s a security coordinator to think?   

Where we stand

The fact of the matter is that the situation in Tunisia is very sensitive and as Expats we should remain informed, aware, and engaged.  That being said we have to also acknowledge that Tunisia is a mostly peaceful place and the media is not the best source for practical & relevant information.  

As a security coordinator I will always trust my guard’s aunt over a BBC article but because I am entrusted to update a large community of Expats I will always consider both.  

As Expats we should always remain engaged and never lose perspective.  

Let’s keep sharing information.  

 

 

TS Update-(Bizerte Awareness)

Greetings Expats,

We’re rolling along here getting ready for the summer season.  I wanted to send out a big thank you to all of the expats that keep sending me excellent information.

Bizerte Awareness

Clashes which have been taking place since  Sunday in Bizerte escalated this morning  with one dead among the demonstrators and several wounded including within the ranks of security forces.  Tunisian security forces remain on alert in the area and expats are advised to use extra precaution if visiting this town located on the north coast of Tunisia, 66km north of Tunis.  

Expat Awareness

Bizerte is a lovely city noted for its beautiful forests, beaches and scenery.  The current security challenges taking place highlight the importance of good situational awareness.  We will see more scenarios such as the one currently taking place in Bizerte and that is why it is important for Expats to remain aware and engaged while they’re here exploring Tunisia.  

Let’s keep sharing information…

 

TS Update-(Friday May 24th)

Greetings Expats,

Interesting week…lots of information and new developments.  Our monthly Expat Security Professionals Network meeting went well.  It’s always good to network and share information.  

General Situation

Tunisia’s minister of religious affairs has once again bravely gone on the record to echo the tolerant & flexible attitude which most Tunisians have towards religion:  

 “any attempts to enforce a new lifestyle on Tunisians is rejected. Violence is unacceptable in all its forms, whether for religious or political reasons. Violence is condemned and forbidden in Islam and is entirely contrary to the benefits of the revolution.”

Still as Expats we should recognize that we have entered a new phase in this process.  While the initial signs point to a shift on the part of the Ennahda party; many issues brew underneath the surface.  

Developments to monitor

Using their situational awareness skills, many expats have correctly noted the increase of police check points and military presence around town.  Additionally, expats have emailed me about the increase military presence in Carrefour and other key sites.

On a positive front Ansar al-Sharia has stated that they have canceled their May 24th protest, however they have also posted threats on their facebook page:  

we will unleash a terrible surprise on the enemies of religion and the bringers of humiliation and rage.

It is safe to say that we will continue to see tensions build between Tunisian security forces and members of Ansar al-Sharia.

Expat Awareness 

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Consider the following for Friday and throughout your weekend:  

  • Avoid unnecessary travel into the interior of Tunisia:  Kairouan, Sillana, Zaghouan, and Sidi Bouzid
  • Avoid places of that are subject to protest:  Downtown Tunis (Interior Ministry), Bardo (congressional assembly), and Ennahda political offices throughout town.
  • If driving make sure your papers are in order.
  • Make sure you have a practical way of staying inform such as checking the Tunisia Security Update Facebook Page from time to time.

Louis Pasteur once stated that “fortune favors the prepared mind”, likewise security favors the prepared Expat.  

Let’s stay in touch and continue to share information.  

TS Update-(Kairouan Sunday…begins)

Greetings Expats,

Sources indicate that security forces have increased their presence along main streets and major highways throughout Tunis.  

Today in  Cité Ettadhamen
Today in Cité Ettadhamen

We have received information from our contacts & readers that indicate sporadic incidents of rioting in Cite Ettadhamen.  

Additionally, several reports indicate that some Ansar al-Sharia leaders have called on followers to meet at several different local mosque throughout Tunis.

Strategic Shift

Ansar al-Sharia seems to have shifted their strategy by having smaller gatherings throughout Tunis since they were not allowed to have their main meeting in Kairouan.  

Expat Awareness

Remember that while these gatherings present low risks to the expat community, criminals may take advantage of the situation to riot & loot.  This is why we must avoid protests and maintain good situational awareness.  

We recommend all staff to avoid the following areas:  
  • The vicinity of the Interior Ministry (downtown Tunis)
  • The parliament house in Bardo District
  • ALL Ennahda offices in Tunis as Salafist protests may be held in these locations in response to a government crackdown
 
Stay Updated

TS Update-(Kairouan Sunday)

Greetings Expats,

While I was driving back last night from the La Closeria restaurant in La Soukra…I thought to myself “what a paradox?”

On one hand my mind was buys thinking about Kairouan and the many scenarios that could play out.  Yet all around me there were people laughing, drinking, and having a merry time.

As I left the restaurant I couldn’t help noticed additional police checkpoints and military units circulating on the La Marsa highway (GP9).

Indeed Tunisia is a country at a crossroad.  

Kairouan-Sunday, May 19th

While the Tunisian government has officially banned Ansar al-Sharia’s congress in Kairouan, the group still intends on having their meeting.  This being the case something will have to give.

It is highly unlikely that Ansar al-Sharia will attempt to have a “Brave Heart” style battle against Tunisian Security forces on Sunday.  What will happen is what has already been happening namely the increased tension between ultra conservative groups and the government at large.

Expat Awareness

Violent or non-violent, Sunday’s events will not end on Sunday.  Ansar al-Sharia’s followers are mostly young, determined  and angry.  For months I’ve watched them walk around with their newly acquired beards, cargo pants, and militant looks.  If their meeting is suppressed we can be assured that they will attempt to make a statement in a more convert fashion.

Let’s keep networking & sharing information.  Here’s a brief Kairouan Update:

Expat Security-INFO

Greetings Expats,

Feel free to download any of the documents below:

General Information (PDFs)

EXPAT Information (fire prevention safety checklist)

Expat Security Awareness Sheet (general security info)

EXPAT SECURITY READINESS-Checklist (proactive security)

Expat Useful Numbers-Print Out (handy numbers to have)

Continue reading

TS Update-(Aware of the Shift)

Greetings Expats,

Busy weekend on the security side of things, but also this weekend was a good snapshot of the situation in Tunisia.  

On one hand we had great weather and many positive venues to enjoy…but a simple google news search provides more than enough stories to be concerned about.  

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A Shift

As informed expats we can learn a lot from what’s happening in Libya.  It’s crystal clear that things are heating up next door:

“Oil giant BP has withdrawn some nonessential staff from operations in Libya following UK government advice about uncertainty in the country.”-Article 

“The US and Britain have announced that they are withdrawing some diplomatic staff from Libya, amid security concerns over a recent flare-up in political unrest.” Article 

“A country (Libya) being pushed toward an abyss wrought of foreign intervention coupled with a weak central government and a plentiful supply of heavy weapons outside of government control.”-Article

Aware of the Shift 

The shift is on in Tunis.  On Saturday:  “Clashes erupt after prayers around Bilal mosque in Sidi Hassine Sijoumi area, where Salafists used knives, Molotov cocktails.”

As the government attempts to strengthen the security landscape; we will see more clashes between Tunisian Security Forces and “salafists”.  

We have entered a new phase in this revolution/evolution process.  Although the effects are currently not taking place in traditional “expat neighborhoods”, we need to remain aware and engaged.  

Let’s keep sharing information and empowering our expat community.