A working guide to what's going on in Tunisia

Published January 26th, 2016 - 11:41 GMT
A week of violent protests in the North African country are testing its reputation as a successful post-Arab-Spring state. (AFP/File)
A week of violent protests in the North African country are testing its reputation as a successful post-Arab-Spring state. (AFP/File)

We're writing a lot this week about Egypt's revolution because we're staring at its anniversary. But across the region in Tunisia, another Arab Spring's shadows are moving through changes, too. 

The North African country is where the region's revolutions all began, and by a lot of accounts, it's the best off today. 

Still, problems persist. Rampant unemployment and lack of opportunity has sparked fierce protests across the country, especially in the last few weeks. But with all the other chaos happening in the region right now, you may not have heard much about what's behind this new wave. 

Here's a rundown of what's going on in Tunisia. 

1. On Monday, dozens of unemployed Tunisians lined up outside a government building in the west-central city of Kasserine. Though Tunisia's national average unemployment rate hovers around 15 percent, Kasserine's rate has shot up to around 26 percent. This is the latest is a week-long string of protests challenging Tunisian Prime Minister Habib Essid over rising unemployment. 

2. This unrest's beginnings were similar to that of 2011. Remember Mohamed Bouazizi? The 26-year-old fruit vendor kickstarted the 2011 revolution when he set himself alight in protest of the rampant unemployment in the country back then. Last week, Tunisians were reminded of the same, when a 27-year-old textile technician named Houda killed himself in Kasserine after being refused a job. Violent protests and attacks on police stations were followed by a nation-wide overnight curfew on Friday. 

3. Five year on, Tunisia's problems still begin with a lack of opportunity. With a new constitution, compromise between Islamists and secular representatives and free elections, the North African country has long been considered a beacon of hope amid a sea of disasterous Arab Spring outcomes. But the recent unrest has been a poignant reminder of the problems that still remain. Tunisians account for some of the highest numbers of foreign Daesh (ISIS) recruits. Analysts warn if the government fails to outline and execute a plan of economic rejuvination, those numbers will only continue to rise. 


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