Vanessa Szakal

Vanessa Szakal

Vanessa studied French, Spanish, and Arabic at the University of Washington in Seattle. She currently interns at Nawaat where she is able to pursue her interests in news media and the universal right to access to information.

23 May 2014

That the Mesh Sayada case study has been presented in the context of US surveillance operatives is relevant to one discussion but is meanwhile a superficial and imprecise presentation of the project for citizens who participated in its development and to whom it belongs. The mesh network was not brought to Sayada; it was built in Sayada as a locally-devised, collaboratively-implemented initiative to promote Open Source and Open Data principles.

18 May 2014

Citizens, politicians, analysts, and union members expecting concrete decisions and well-elaborated intitiatives in Jomâa’s press conference last Wednesday felt either marked disappointment or resignation to the Prime Minister’s consistently long-winded and half-hearted commitments to real reform.

14 May 2014

Thirty-one year old blogger and activist Aziz Amami was arrested yesterday, May 12, 2014 in La Goulette, a beachside neighborhood of the capital. Some time between ten and eleven o’clock Monday night, Amami and his friend, photographer Sabri Ben Mlouka, were purportedly pulled over and detained for the possession and consumption of marijuana.

12 May 2014

If its delivery is distinctive, the overwhelming message from public figures and ordinary citizens is the same: the gravity of the economic crisis—whether the exacerbated image of a political media campaign or an accurate portrayal of the country’s disequilibrium— is such that the Prime Minister has been called upon to transcend the drawn-out bickering of a politicized National Economic Dialogue, to take actions in measure with the severity of the situation that he has expounded in his discourse and communication with Tunisia and the international community, to devise a roadmap that sets out long-term, sweeping structural reforms.

02 May 2014

What does foreign media make of the Ministry of Tourism’s recent decision to regulate the entry of Jews carrying Israel passports into the country? How will a national debate that encompasses questions of ethnicity, religion, secularism, history, and international relations influence potential tourists to Tunisia? For better or worse, the Djerba controversy and Karboulmania that have overcome Tunisia have yet to titillate the international community; if they have penetrated foreign media, the effects on potential tourists appear yet negligible, and reports are charged with neither the spit nor flame of online articles and commentaries from Tunisian journalists and readers alike.

20 April 2014

Is the ‘Martyrs of the Revolution Affair’ that has inundated Tunisian media over the past week symbolic of an already-failing post-revolutionary justice system? Or does it instead reflect the reappearance of the same sort of political corruption that thrived under old regime? Either way, the gaping division between a recent decision announced by Tunisia’s military tribunal and public opinion has Tunisians up in arms or at least on edge about the political, legal, and moral integrity of the State.

18 April 2014

Will continuing threats of strikes, milk siphoned across borders and spilled onto streets, and official demands for reforms within the dairy industry inspire more interest in prioritizing the needs of a suffering agricultural sector? Until now, articles and current issues of agricultural significance prompt little public response in comparison to other highly mediatized and provocative and agriculturally-relevant issues such as immigration, smuggling of contraband, border tensions, unemployment, international economic cooperation and trade.

13 April 2014

Whereas abroad, «it is whispered in the halls of Washington that Mehdi Jomâa’s profile pleased [Americans] because it is that of a ‘pragmatic businessman,’» his discourse addressed to Tunisians pertaining to the country’s delicate economic situation has «stirred gossip and accusations of exaggeration and conspiracy theories.»

13 April 2014

Perusing the articles available in American media on Prime Minister Mehdi Jomaa’s visit to Washington, one is faced with the gradation of quality and specificity and attention to detail that exists among different news sources…one is reminded that The Washington Post is a reliable outlet for fluffy pieces about the US’ benevolent role in the so called developing world, for sweeping generalizations about terrorism, the Arab Spring, democracy, etc. Unsurprisingly, most US news sources follow in this line of reporting.

07 April 2014

With Article 15 on the table for debate, peaking intensity of conflicts in Medenine over the closure of Ras Jedid, and Jomâa’s glowing reflections about his visit to Washington, and widespread public cynism about the volatility and apparent inefficiency of politics and politicians, the past week in politics in Tunisia captures the give-and-take, all-but-constant process that is ‘democratic transition’.

03 April 2014

That this report diffuses information which was previously inaccessible is a feature not to be overlooked or undervalued. In the wake of revolution and the unfolding democratic transition, the study’s objectives are relevant, its approach and resources transparent, its conclusions meticulously drawn and valuable to common knowledge and future research…However, a subtle but noteworthy contradiction associated with the confused designation of Tunisia as victim of state capture and as a role model for other countries reflects a greater, underlying discrepancy that exists at the institutional level.

30 March 2014

In the past month during which Tunisia celebrated its fifty-eighth year of independence from France, political parties have crowded public space and consciousness—an ebullient Ennahda rally on Avenue Habib Bourguiba, Hamadi Jebali in news headlines, and rumors that Tunisia-Libya border tensions have been exacerbated by political party backing.

27 March 2014

The ‘open’ letter to Secretary Kerry, endorsed by and intended for US government officials, is written accordingly, in polished diplomatic terms where the return of every initiative is measured in dollars and proposed projects and investments perpetuate the image of the US abroad as a benevolent (soft) power.

23 March 2014

“What we have in our favor is that current politicians are not used to politics and can be pushed to accept the needs and rights of citizens. And there is no better judge to hold politicians accountable than the citizen. When we make information public, people know what is going on. Transparency must become obligatory.”