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Tunisians’ Revolutionary Goals Remain Unfulfilled

By SARAH YERKES AND ZEINEB BEN YAHMED

Tunisia is held up as the sole success story of the Arab Spring. But nearly eight years after the 2010–2011 revolution, public anger with the government and overall hopelessness is high and growing. It is becoming increasingly clear that political freedom is not enough to bolster Tunisia’s fledgling democracy. And should the transition fail, the consequences could be devastating for both the country’s progress and the region’s stability.

Some early warning signs are already evident. Tunisia recently overtook Eritrea as the country with the largest number of migrants entering Italy by sea. And since 2011, close to 100,000 highly educated and skilled workers have left the country. Equally concerning, Tunisia remains one of the largest contributors of foreign fighters to the self-proclaimed Islamic State, and its suicide rate has nearly doubled. On October 29, 2018, a 30-year-old, unemployed graduate blew herself up in central Tunis, marking the city’s first terror attack in several years.

These statistics stand in stark contrast to tremendous political change, including a new constitution that is on par with those of long-standing democracies, more transparent political institutions, the start of decentralization, a free media, and a vibrant and vocal civil society. So why are the freest people in the Arab world also some of the most frustrated? Put simply, their priorities have not changed. But fully understanding them requires revisiting the goals of the revolution—work, freedom, and national dignity… more


 
 
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