Tunisian hostage crisis, leaving 21 dead in the capital Tunis, was contained within four hours but its aftershocks significantly add to the worries post the emergence of the Islamic State as the most lethal terror outfit and its potential as the most rogue terror export hub in the days to come, if left unchecked.
Because, Tunisia is the only country where Arab Spring remained Arab Spring, surviving an orderly transition from a 24-year old autocracy of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali to a parliamentary democracy.
The Arab Spring erupted from Tunisia in December 2010 with self-immolation of a street vendor, Mohamed Bouazizi, after sustained harassment from the authorities.
The movement was to soon engulf the whole Arab World, the major dots of tyrannies and autocracies on the world map.
And it did happen.
Sustained protest movements brought down dictators in Tunisia, Libya, Egypt and Yemen.
But apart from Tunisia, the other three countries got entangled in bloody faction wars and terror attacks. They are staring at dark future. Syria’s civil uprising is still one of the bloodiest war being waged. Bahrain’s was brutally crushed. Other countries including Algeria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait have effectively defanged the protests.
Except Tunisia, it is indeed an Arab Winter in all other Arab Spring countries.
And a terror strike in that Tunisia – on a building of international importance – adjacent to its national parliament – killing 21 including 17 foreign nationals (all Europeans) – within six months of elections completing the process of transition to a parliamentary republic – is indicative of how sinister the terror footprints are going to be.
The network extends – from Asia to Africa to Europe – from crisis hotbeds and terror infested countries to the advanced ones like the European nations.
With the Tunisia strike, the worrying aspect gets even more disturbing. It’s like identifying targets and waging the war on all continents.
Terrorism in the name of Islam, in the era of the Islamic State, is still not able to touch the American soil post 9/11. That makes Europe the natural choice. After all, any attack on a European country, like the January attack at Charlie Hebdo office in Paris, or terror strikes in other European countries, is an event of global outreach that gives the terror outfits a wider publicity, an increased outreach to recruit more, to claim the world.
Of all European countries, France has been the most involved one in strikes on Muslim terror outfits in the recent history.
Tunisia, being a French colony prior to its independence, coupled with its successful democratic transition through a civil uprising, is an antithesis to what all the terror outfits like the Islamic State espouse.
It’s not that all is well in Tunisia. There are real threats – of increasing radicalization of youth – and of persisting presence of an Al Qaeda offshoot (Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb).
But there lies the point.
The Arab Spring has succeeded in Tunisia, an Islamic country, in spite of these threats, fighting them while building up a free society, a democratic country.
Something that could not happen in other Arab countries, a fertile ground for the terror groups operating in the name of Islam.
Tunisia is an example for democratic spirits across the Arab nations – a consistent reminder for the dictators – and a slap in the face of the terror warlords.
And the sinister minds would like to make an example of this example.
Today’s terror strike in Tunis may be a well intended message to both Tunisia and to France and to the larger, free democratic world.
©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/