When Tunisian President Kais Saied suspended parliament and dismissed Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi on July 25, news headlines immediately projected a narrative that Tunisia is simply another failed experiment in Islamic Awakening (Arab Spring).
Muslim media outlets in the region and many Muslim social media users are swayed by the narrative of the Western corporate media.
They view Tunisia following the same pattern as in Egypt, Libya and Bahrain where achievements of the 2011 uprising were usurped by authoritarian cliques.
Superficially, Saied’s actions appear autocratic.
However, deeper analysis and research shows that this conclusion is flawed.
Before analyzing Tunisia’s situation further, it must be borne in mind that the 2011 uprisings in the Muslim world were authentic revolutionary processes which were subverted into a controlled project by NATO regimes.
Whatever Saied’s political motives today, Tunisians had led the uprisings that swept the Middle East in 2011 that caught Western regimes by complete surprise.
Neo-colonialist powers could not formulate a sabotage plan for Tunisia with as much sophistication as they did for uprisings in Bahrain, Egypt or Libya.
Thus, the Tunisian experiment turned out to be slightly better than that in Libya or Egypt.
While it is tempting for media outlets to compare Saied’s actions with those of Egyptian tyrant Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the comparison is flawed on many levels.
Saied is a newcomer to politics and has not made his career by being part of the ruling elite.
He is also not a business tycoon with links to the region’s US-supported despots.
He is an elected president and his recent actions have popular support which even his detractors admit.
As law professor, he led a relatively ordinary life in academia as an intellectual before joining politics a couple of years ago.
Egypt’s dictator al-Sisi has been a high-ranking Egyptian military officer for many years, an institution which has controlled Egypt’s political and economic life for decades.
Also, al-Sisi was trained in the US.
In 2006, he was sent to the US Army War College where the Egyptian military usually dispatches its most loyal henchmen.
After Saied disbanded parliament and assumed greater powers, his political opponents were not murdered or mass arrests carried out.
In a region where political oppression is the norm, this is a sign that Saied’s moves are not to be read within the narrative peddled by the corporate media.
Even his exercise of arrests differs from the region’s brutal norms.
While Washington’s surrogates in Bahrain, Egypt and the UAE send people to prisons where torture is rampant, in Tunis the ruling system opts for house arrests.
The fact that many leaders of Tunisia’s Islamic oriented party, Ennahda and the dismissed prime minister freely issue statements against Saied’s policies is a positive sign.
Ennahda has not been declared a “terrorist” organization or disbanded.
Thus, Saied’s actions cannot be seen simply as a power grab typical of a region infested with US-backed tyrants.
There are many politicians in Tunisia who still continue to operate relatively undisturbed within the domestic political scene.
Saied is also on record as saying that official recognition of the Zionist occupation of Palestine is high treason.
This carries regional repercussions. It exposes the UAE, Saudi and Egyptian regimes as traitors to the Palestinian cause.
If Saied were merely after power like his regional peers, he would have chosen not to raise the Zionist question and irritate the wealthy despots in the Persian Gulf countries.
The London-based Middle East Eye (MEE) pointed out that Western powers and the pro-Western regime in Algeria have spoken unfavorably of Saied’s actions.
This is a sign that recent events in Tunisia cannot be viewed through the same prism as the suppression of people in Egypt or Bahrain.
Yes, there are reports that Egypt, the UAE and the Saudi regimes are trying to win Kais Saied over.
This has more to do with the fact that these regimes simply want to destabilize and discredit another country where people managed to overthrow a dictator in 2011.
The UAE, Saudis and Egypt back Saied out of dogmatic favoritism of centralization and usurpation of power, not because they support him or his policies.
It seems quite clear now that the UAE, Saudis and Sisi’s regimes are trying to make sure that Tunisia descends into chaos.
It is meant to punish the country where the uprising of 2011 began and once again impress upon the population that people’s power does not work.
Some readers might question as to why our analysis discounts the possibility that Saied’s move is another typical act in regional politics, and to sideline an elected Islamic socio-political party, Ennahda.
Careful analysis of Ennahda’s politicking over several years and the NATO regimes’ approach shows that the party has long been domesticated.
Whatever the outcome of recent events in Tunisia, it is essential not to view them through the Western media prism.
The fact that the dominant narrative in the Qatari and NATO-affiliated media outlets give negative spin to events in Tunisia should make Muslims wary of adopting the mainstream view at face value.