Tunisia’s Bumpy Democratic Transition

The country’s democratization has been mired by setbacks.

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Observers of Middle East politics often refer to Tunisia as an exception to the chaos brought on by the uprisings that have rocked the region over the past decade. The revolutions in Syria, Libya and Yemen resulted in devastating civil wars and massive foreign intervention with no end in sight to the suffering. A Saudi-led campaign carried out by the Gulf Cooperation Council nipped Bahrain’s uprising in the bud, while the Egyptian army put an end to Egypt’s short-lived democratic experience. But Tunisia’s small military and its position on the periphery of regional affairs – owing to its lack of hydrocarbons and non-strategic location – seem to have spared it from suffering the fate of other countries that were drawn into the Arab Spring, at least till now. However, the continued fragmentation of Tunisian politics and the surge in regional powers’ intervention in vulnerable states may soon lead Tunisia to experience the same turmoil as many of its neighbors. (click to enlarge) Turbulent Politics, Past and Present Politics in modern Tunisia were significantly influenced by the country’s first president, Habib Bourguiba, whom Tunisians affectionately refer to as the supreme warrior. Bourguiba led the country from its independence in 1956 until […]

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Hilal Khashan
Hilal Khashan is a Professor of political science at the American University of Beirut. He is a respected author and analyst of Middle Eastern affairs. He is the author of six books, including Hizbullah: A Mission to Nowhere. (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2019.) He is currently writing a book titled Saudi Arabia: The Dilemma of Political Reform and the Illusion of Economic Development. He is also the author of more than 110 articles that appeared in journals such as Orbis, The Journal of Conflict Resolution, The Brown Journal of World Affairs, Middle East Quarterly, Third World Quarterly, Israel Affairs, Journal of Religion and Society, Nationalism and Ethnic Politics, and The British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies.