New Carnegie report on Tunisia misses main event: Security sector reform & bolstering of the Army
Carnegie’s has just published a piece on Tunisia that seems to me to miss the key insights which Carnegie’s Yezid Sayegh laid out clearly in his paper just a few days before the Bardo attack in March.
My piece on the issue – mainly how the internal and external focus on “democracy building” and process has come at the expense of the necessary hard issue of comprehensive security sector reform – is here.
Boukhars mentions the army only twice in passing and has only an oblique recommendation on policy re SSR, saying:
“The United States and its allies must keep a watchful eye on Tunisia’s fight against terrorism.”
His short “recommendation” here only frames the issue in terms of possible human rights abuses etc. unfortunately which is only a part of the issue at hand.
My point in the piece above in Tablet is that this incessant focus on the politics and institutions of Tunisia’s transitions has conveniently crowded out the absolutely pressing issue of bolstering the country’s defences and reforming the security sector. Without cracking this nut, the expanding cordon of violence and instability all around Tunisia threatens all of the nice efforts at liberal state building. It is indeed a MUCH HARDER issue than even writing a constitution – after all the police-mafia like state in Tunisia is exceedingly strong and was made such by an internal and external collusion over the decades. The issue can no longer be swept under the rug, unless one wants to bet on the Tunisian army and SS in the expanding fight – a bet I would sadly advise against making.