Warren on Tunisia

Foreign Policy posted a very interesting piece by Alex Warren yesterday. Titled “Tunisia Steps Out,” the article details where Tunisia stands today–as the country that initiated the ‘Arab Spring’–and where it may wind up in the future, as it enjoys certain advantages that other nations in turmoil do not. Chief among them is Tunisia’s status as neutral territory. While Warren doesn’t use the phrase, he sums up the reality nicely:

Despite Tunisia’s dynamic approach to Syria and the Maghreb, no one is suggesting that the country will become a regional power broker. It has many domestic uncertainties to contend with. Unlike the Gulf states, it cannot dispense the liberal sums of money that are usually required to seal any major diplomatic breakthrough in the Arab world. It cannot use its own pan-Arab satellite television channel as a foreign-policy tool, nor can it spend lavishly on international branding or PR.

But all that may be to its advantage. Tunisia is detached from the geopolitical quagmires in the region. Its interests are not directly caught up with the Iranian crisis. It is not an oil producer. It does not share a border with Israel. These sorts of qualities led to the relocation of some 7,000 members of Yasir Arafat’s PLO to Tunis in the early 1980s after being evicted from Lebanon and to Tunis’s becoming the temporary base of the Arab League after Egypt was suspended following Anwar Sadat’s 1979 peace deal with Israel.

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