Revolution in the Time of Neoliberalism, an interview with Asef Bayat

Author of “Life as Politics : How ordinary people change the Middle East” (2009), Asef Bayat is a sociology professor at the University of Illinois. His latest book “Revolutions without Revolutionnaries” (2017), questions the revolutionnary nature of the Arab Revolutions. He was invited by the Forum Tunisien des Droits Economiques et Sociaux (FTDES) to discuss the possibility of a revolution in a neoliberal context during a conference last month in Tunis. Nawaat met with Bayat to discuss the future of revolutions in a world taken hostage by a dying neoliberal order.

Interview with Habibi Funk in Tunis [Video]

On the closing evening of the Goethe Institut’s Geniale Dilletanten in Tunis (January 20-28), the expo’s downtown venue was packed for a DJ set by Habibi Funk. Berlin-based Jannis Stürtz, co-founder of Jakarta Records, began younger music project Habibi Funk which revives long-forgotten or little-known songs of the 70’s and 80’s from Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Egypt, Sudan and Lebanon. As he gets set up for the evening mix, the man behind Habibi Funk experience talks to Nawaat about the travel, research, elbow-rubbing and ethical considerations that feed the project.

South to North and the Sea in Between: Politics of Migration in the Mediterannean

At the beginning of the month, Journalist Farhat Othman criticized the Italian Interior Minister’s visit to Tunisia, observing that an offering of patrol boats, in the guise of support against terrorism and contraband, could only be intended for support against clandestine immigration since it consists of «patrol vessels mandanted by the cooperation agreement linking Tunisia and Italy since 2011 after the massive wave of Tunisians to Italy.» As if to provide a caricature of European politicans obsessed by preserving EU security, Nicolas Sarkozy addressed a cheering crowd of supporters in Nice earlier this week, calling for the «refounding» of the Schengen Area and «a real immigration policy to put an end to social tourism in our country.»

Why has Ennahdha signed on with controversial American PR firm Burson-Marsteller?

Ennahdha’s lack of transparency around its agreement with Burson-Mersteller gives rise to inevitable suspicion that the transaction, contrary to encouraging «free and fair elections in Tunisia» might in fact undermine them. Ambiguity around the financial aspect of the deal (“Fees and expenses to be determined at a later date,” reads the official registration document) is a particular concern after political parties’ financial mismanagement in past elections.

Between a Rock and a Hard Place: Tunisia and Israel, Tunisia and the US

As much as Tunisia’s initial, post-independence, political transition was influenced by the extent and nature of economic support from the West, the success of the country’s waning post-revolution «democratic transition» is significantly impacted by the same US and EU powers. A misnomer that diminishes the scope and complexity of international alliances and enmities that it encompasses, the Arab-Israeli conflict bears greatly upon Tunisia’s relations with Western democracies, the primary prospective investors and financial backers of political transition in Tunisia for the past half century.

Marzouki’s Request: Rendering a «Possible Foreign Military Sale to Tunisia» Actual and Immediate

It is perhaps owing to the urgency of his message, the grave threats that political instability in Libya and regional terrorism pose to Tunisia’s political climate in these next three months, the potential dissipation of a democratic alliance in the MENA region, the very straightforward request for military training and equipment, and more specifically twelve Black Hawk helicopters, that Marzouki’s appeal has been so widely diffused across US and international media outlets.
What is pertinent to note is that Marzouki’s request is the precipitous disbursal of materials that the US has already promised Tunisia.

Interventionism, Systematic Alignment Instill Political Divisiveness – and No Resolve for Gaza

In Tunisia, there is a great deal of skepticism regarding the competency and «responsible governance» of the interim government in juxtaposition with Tunisia’s international image as the ‘sole democracy in the Arab world’ as citizens sense that technocrats and politicians are incapable of rising above their own political and electoral trajectories to synchronise a unified, coordinated national response to aggression that is tantamount to a Palestinian holocaust.

Good Country, Fragile State, the Arab World’s Sole Democracy : Tunisia by International Measures

Several comparative studies featuring Tunisia have recently caught our attention at Nawaat, and here we reflect on them conjunctively in the context of a sort of comparative examination of our own. The Good Country Index passes as the most engaging for its pragmatic persective and reassuring assertion that the index is one alternative perspective that is to be considered in conjunction other indices and analyses; the Fragile States Index is mildly interesting without presenting any strikingly revelatory insight, while two articles from The Economist that examine the so-called Arab World are flagrantly devoid of research- and critical thinking-based material for relevant, constructive discussion.

Revitalizing Tourism? The ‘Start-up Democracy Team’ Spins a New Image for Tunisia

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.

Jomâa and Barack Open the Strategic Dialogue – American Media on the Tunisia-US Partnership

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.

Conditional (Economic) Friendships: Tunisia, the EU, and the Gulf Countries

What Jomâa did not say regarding contrasting political visions amongst the Gulf countries visited on his trip will weigh heavily not only on international relations and the actual support that Tunisia might receive from its alliances, but on the conditions for the support (if any) offered. Meanwhile images of blood-stained earth and bullet hole-scarred buildings permeate national news following clashes between national security forces and militants in Jendouba and Sidi Bouzid.

The Ignored Challenges of the Arab Spring Backbone

The last two years witnessed major changes in the MENA region (Middle East and North Africa), Falling down political regimes and starting liberation process in societies which have been living in decades of dictatorships. Those dictatorships were not only on the macro level, the state, but also on the micro level which is the family and even on the personal level.