Tunisians recently took to the streets to protest the government’s economic mismanagement and deplorable living conditions. The Tunisian president has warned protestors against causing chaos in the name of poverty. President Kais Saied also threatened to shoot protesters who attempted to militarily challenge the government’s inability to address the Covid-19 pandemic, rampant unemployment, and an increasing poverty rate. Tunisia is in the midst of its worst political crisis since former President Ben Ali was deposed in a revolution in 2011. The Tunisians, who had previously staged massive demonstrations against the deteriorating situation, did so in response to the government’s failure to address economic calamities, culminating in the suspension of parliament and the removal of Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi by President Kais Saied. Meanwhile, supporters and opponents clashed outside the Tunisian parliament building after President Saied halted parliament and ousted the country’s prime minister. Opponents say the move was a coup against the country’s 2011 revolution and a flagrant violation of the country’s constitution. Following the coup, Rached Ghannouchi, the leader of the Ennahda Islamic Party and Tunisia’s Parliament Speaker, tried to enter the parliament building with several members but was refused by the army troops. When Ghannouchi was refused access to the parliament building by military personnel, he issued a statement vehemently denouncing President Saied, urging Tunisian citizens to pour into the streets in defiance of President Saied’s orders. “It is quite obvious that the Emirati media is promoting a coup and undermining the Ennahda movement’s basis,” Mr Ghannouchi told the Turkey-based TRT Arabic news channel. “Economic and social turmoil was exploited to incite young people against the government, laying the groundwork for the President Saied-led coup,” Ghannouchi added. “All of President Saied’s heinous political decisions have repercussions for which we hold him accountable.” According to Mujtahid, Tunisia’s unfolding developments are being orchestrated by the president to undermine the Islamist Ennahda party in the same way that Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi deposed Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood, and that the October 25 Tunisian coup d’état has been modelled after Egypt’s June 30 coup. On his Twitter account, Mujtahid claimed that al-Sisi, bin Zayed, bin Salman, and French President Emmanuel Macron were all complicit in the Tunisian coup. The Ennahda Movement is a Tunisian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood headed by Rached Ghannouchi, who rose to prominence in the Arab world after the Arab Spring and the country’s first democratic elections following the fall of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. Ghannouchi was the first Muslim Brotherhood official who seized control of a nation in the Arab world. Suspending parliament and dismissing Tunisia’s prime minister have prompted a range of responses from regional states, but Western capitals have been cautious so far. Russia and Iran have exhorted all parties involved in the crisis to exercise restraint and participate in the dialogue. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, as regional backers of Tunisia’s coup, have made substantial financial contributions to help in suppressing President Saied’s Islamic dissidents.
On the other hand, Turkish officials have described Saied’s actions as an infringement of Tunisian law and a coup attempt. Tunisia’s turmoil has been described as “disturbing” by Turkish Parliament Speaker Mustafa Sentop, who claims that actions obstructing the function of parliament and elected representatives are illegitimate and deemed as a coup. Tunisia’s coup, like Egypt’s, would be detrimental to the Muslim Brotherhood while posing a significant danger to Turkey’s AKP-led government, which is why Ankara is gravely concerned about Tunisian developments. If Saied’s coup succeeds, Tunisia seems to be seeing an increase in arrests of Muslim Brotherhood members.