With Syria imploding and Egypt teetering, what the Middle East needs now, like you need a hole in your head, is another neighbour collapsing — enter Tunisia.
Tens of thousands have taken to the streets of Tunis in support of the Opposition’s demands for the resignation of the Islamist-led government following a recent political assassination; also marking the six-month anniversary of the assassination of a prominent leftist leader. The Tunisian General Labour Union called its members to join the rally.
The current unrest comes only two-years since President Ben Ali was overthrown by a popular uprising at the start of the “Arab Spring” with the protestors demanding the dissolution of the transitional assembly. The National Constituent Assembly (ANC), eight months beyond its promised deadline, is still in the process of drawing up the constitution; after which fresh elections are to be held in December.
Since the revolution but following years of oppression under the ousted Ben Ali, a range of Islamists have emerged in Tunisia ranging from moderates like the ruling Ennahda movement to the ultra-conservative Salafists. Just a few days earlier, Ennahda came out in a 150,000-strong show of support for the government. Indeed, the Opposition protestors say they are anti-Ennahda rather than anti-Islam.
Meanwhile, another group, the Ansar al-Sharia, wants the introduction of Islamic law across Tunisia. Their leader Seif Allah Ibn Hussein, imprisoned prior to the revolution, is in hiding following an arrest warrant for the attacks on the US embassy in Tunis in September 2012.