التحديات كبيرة والملفات عصية ومدة الخطة سنة واحدة. ومع ذلك تمكن حكيم بن حمودة من مشاهدة بعض الأفلام خلال أيام قرطاج السنمائية، وأدى، حسب تعبيره، مناسك الحج السنوية لمهرجان قليبية لسينما الهواة لكنه أرجأ، لضيق الوقت، مشاهدة ”جمل البروطة“ أو ”القرط“ إلى ما بعد انتهاء المهمة. وما إن سلمت حكومة المهدي جمعة المشعل الى حكومة الحبيب الصيد يوم 6 فيفري 2015 حتى تسنى لحكيم بن حمودة مرافقة كاميرا الوثائقي وهي تتوغل بالديب زوم، deep zoom، في أعماق بؤس شباب تونس الذي تجاهلته مشاريع التنمية. حينها قال : ”إنه شهادة صادمة حول التهميش وصوت من أصوات الانتفاضات القادمة“.
In Tunisia’s capital, days before the November 23 presidential elections, the three candidates whose faces appear most frequently across media outlets and whose names are mentioned most often in conversation are Beji Caid Essebsi, Moncef Marzouki, and Hamma Hammami.
In Tunisia, public opinion has often questioned the authenticity of foreign initiatives to facilitate the country’s transition to democracy, based largely on skepticism of, for instance, the US’ silence/complicity in (a lack of truly democratic) political processes that kept Ben Ali in power for over two decades. Shortly after the President’s fled the country in January 2011, questions posed during a press conference at the US Embassy in Tunis on 21 February expressed as much; one Tunisian journalist explicitly asked, «How can we trust you?»
What Euchi demonstrates in The Disappointment of the Revolution is the falling short of an effective transitional justice process, a degredation of standards since 2011 that has witnessed the successive criminalization of former regime officials to their pardoning, to the concession of their right to engage in politics. Those who were initially seen as “enemies” of the state have gradually come to be recognized as political equals, now rivals now allies as per the momentary needs of political parties vying for electoral ground.
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.
The adoption of a charter signifying convergence on the ‘rules of the game,’ is precisely the sort of written agreement recommended by the International Crisis Group for continued, limited consensus that distinguishes healthy political party competition from enmity spurred by the prioritization of personal/partisan gain and power.
Taking an inventory of reports over the past two weeks that convey the clamor and chaos of Tunisia’s party politics gearing up for elections in October, one can appreciate a newfound irony in the attribution of—and the granting of an award for—’consensus’ to the Ennahda (or, for that matter, any other political) party.
Even consequential economic woes pale slightly as the announcement of fixed election dates has solidified the finite temporality of transition, the imminent fork in the road and the uncertainty of the path towards which the ‘consensus’-driven country is steering—that of gradual progression through reform or stagnancy and gradual regression?
The aptness of the SelfiePoubella campaign is largely in the irony of its approach, in its twisting of the conventionally individualistic focus of the Selfie in general and especially in the context of the Minister of Tourism’s fetish for self-portraits that have propagated and diffused across the media landscape with as much efficiency as the garbage that has cluttered the Tunisian landscape.
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.
As ANC deputies finalized the electoral law at Parliament chambers in Bardo, citizens filled capital streets with their presence, carrying posters and flags, chanting and singing the national anthem in honor of the international Labor Day holiday.
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.
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.
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.»
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.
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’.
Pour la plupart des signataires que nous avons pu contacter, de telles lettres adressées à leurs gouvernements ont déjà eu échos par le passé et peuvent contribuer à changer la politique étrangère américaine en Tunisie, cette dernière s’étant focalisée sur plusieurs autres fronts, délaissant « le laboratoire démocratique » qu’est la Tunisie.
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.