Tataouine: phase 2 of a revolution

by Saboon Fnord

Today we have witnessed the peak of corruption in what was supposed to be a corruption-free country. Tunisians in Tataouine are being killed because they have claimed the right for a fair share of wealth, and are being murdered because they have stopped the production of an oil pipeline in the south.

They claim their fair share and are being muted when the government, and all its apparel, is actively pushing a bill which would allow all the most corrupted from the former regime to come back with no further judicial pursuits.

What is most astonishing about this story is that Tunisian rulers never confirmed, nor denied the very existence of the oil production in this remote region of Tunisia. Southern Tunisian citizens took upon themselves to investigate, strike, and finally, since few days, stopped the transit and the turned the pipes off.

The actual Tunisian president, a 80 something years old politician who has occupied a position of minister under the first dictatorship era of Bourguiba. Caid Sebsi openly and “friendly” reveals, during televised interviews, that he was an active part into organizing and setting up fake elections during his mandate, under the governance of Bourguiba.

In a country full of young people (with over 30% of the population under 30 years old), the president is a former surrogate of a former repressive regime which dates back to the 50s.

Few weeks ago, Caid Sebsi threatened the strikers in Kamour that he would send the military forces to stop the hungry people of Tatouine from slowing down the secretive oil production. The oil rigs are supposedly exploited by European companies who signed hidden from-the-public contracts since the independence of Tunisia in 1956. The role of the rulers in Tunisia is to keep this production secret, and to defend the interest of the oil companies, against the interest of the people living in that region.

Tataouine is one of these regions in Tunisia where the poverty and unemployment reaches peaks since decades already. As shady as this story seems, Caid Sebsi has been democratically elected by the Tunisian people in one of the most symbolic elections in the history of this small country. He won over the conservative Islamic party, which has not presented candidates, but rather put Moncef Marzouki as placeholder.

It turned out that the party of Caid Sebsi was the very clone of the former RCD which was led by the former dictator Ben Ali, now exiled in Saudi Arabia.

Back to the strikers in Tataouine, one of the protesters was shot today (May 22nd) by police. Caid Sebsi, did not reform not remove the extensive police state that Ben Ali has put in place during his 27 years of reign.

Nidaa Tounes, the party of Caid Sebsi rather enforced the role of police, gave them a free pass to molest and humiliate Tunisian citizen, and used the terrorist threat as a motive to mute any anti-police critics. This gave the cartel of Tunisian politicians a free pass for corruption, since that is all they can do for their country. 

Instead of proposing a coherent plan to reboot the country after a painful Arab Spring, Tunisians saw the number of police force increase by several folds, in addition to hundreds of surveillance cameras to monitor the city of Tunis. Tunisians saw the surge of an overly equipped police force (In Tunisia police has drones, new cars, new gear and new weapons, offered generously by Turkey and France).

In addition to this “mis-management”, the very party of Nidaa was preyed from the inside by the old school businessmen, ministers, directors and other figures who have ruined the country under Ben Ali, and enriched themselves under and after the Ben Ali regime.

Tunisia is a very visual study case of astonishing unequal wealth distribution where most of the people saw their purchase power declining by over 40%.

The economic indicators are nothing but catastrophic, with no clear plan of growth nor reform. If you walk in the streets of Tunis, you can easily see that the few have the most in a very provocative way. The most corrupt not only show pleasantly their wealth when the majority of the citizen saw their public schools defunded, their hospitals unequipped, and infrastructure deteriorating. This vision is accompanied by an active policy of massive pollution.

Tunisians once again lose their sons who fight for an equal share of dignity, over the rulers who use the same old tactics for the old same purpose. At the age of internet, and with less censorship, old maneuvers might not work as they used to work before, and we are on the verge of seeing the brave Tunisian youth deploying the phase 2 of the revolution, taking the disease from its roots.