On June 27, Tunisia opened its land, sea, and air borders for the first time in three months. While the government’s aggressive response to the coronavirus successfully limited the number of cases in Tunisia, the shutdown caused severe economic stress.
Having lost the cushion of Gulf support, many Arab states are looking for external financing from international financial institutions and other donors such as China (particularly in North Africa) and the United States.
So far, the Tunisian military’s rapid response to the public health crisis in support of the elected government has been laudable. But there may be darker economic clouds on the horizon affecting the armed forces’ readiness and relations with the government.
While countries worldwide have announced lockdowns to block the coronavirus, North African governments are using the opportunity to further quell freedom of expression and advance their agendas. Will civil society stand their ground?
Joseph Bahout is a nonresident fellow in Carnegie’s Middle East Program. His research focuses on political developments in Lebanon and Syria, regional spillover from the Syrian crisis, and identity politics across the region.
Boukhars is a nonresident fellow in Carnegie’s Middle East Program. He is a professor of countering violent extremism and counter-terrorism at the Africa Center for Strategic Studies, National Defense University.
Hamza Meddeb is a nonresident scholar at the Carnegie Middle East Center, where his research focuses on economic reform, political economy of conflicts, and border insecurity across the Middle East and North Africa.
Sarah Yerkes is a senior fellow in Carnegie’s Middle East Program, where her research focuses on Tunisia’s political, economic, and security developments as well as state-society relations in the Middle East and North Africa.
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