An urgent need for a national integrated agenda to deal with daunting challenges


Tunisia is facing three major challenges. These are political, socio-economic and security challenges, which were made more critical by adverse geopolitics, and shaped in particular by a serious crisis in its immediate vicinity and the region as a whole.

The situation is made even more disturbing and complicated  by increasingly alarming incidents in almost every single region in the country.

–  On security, terrorist attacks have reached a turning point in terms of their (1) intensity  and geographical expansion(e.g. moved to cities too), (2) targets (tourists have become targets), and  (3)  recruitment,  training  and  tactics  (attacks  by  lone  wolves).  This  turning  point  has imposed  another  heavy  burden  on  police  and  military  forces  as  they  are  dragged  into asymmetrical warfare.

–  On the social front, the recent protests, well-organized or not, have reached unprecedented levels  of  frequency  and  magnitude  (e.g.  phosphates  production  interrupted,  exams boycotted and administrative strikes intensified).

–  Finally, geopolitically speaking, the expansion of the Islamic State (IS) to Libya has become a pivotal defining element of violence dynamics in this country.

Amid a context of daunting, large-scale challenges, an overall feeling of frustration prevails in society as the measures taken to address them are highly disproportionate to the level of threat they pose.

These measures are generally  soft and slow and lack clear prospects. This is due in part to the fact that  the  key  players  in  local  affairs,  which  are  expected  to  shape  the  future  of   the  country,  have failed  to  be  driving  forces  of  change,  sources  of  inspiration  and  mobilization,  as  well  as  pillars  of support. They have instead turned their hand to their narrower domestic affairs to live up to their new roles and responsibilities in the current democratic transition, as enshrined in the constitution. They need to invest enormous time and effort and allocate huge resources, which are extremely hard to secure quickly and in adverse circumstances, to meet those new obligations.

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