TUNISIA Ennahdha in the eye of the storm

Posted on June 30, 2021


Politics / TUNISIA Ennahdha in the eye of the storm

Moncef Mahroug de Oct 20, 2017 – 07:49 in Politics

The Islamist party, target of attacks internally, is weakened by an international situation now hostile to the formations of the fundamentalist movement.

Is History an eternal restart for Ennahdha? Four years after the great crisis of summer 2013, following which this party and its two allies (Congress for the Republic, and Democratic Forum for Freedoms and Labor) within the Troika (December 2011-January 2014 ) had, under pressure from the opposition, mobilized after the assassination of deputy Mohamed Brahmi, on July 25, 2013, to demand the fall of the government and the dissolution of the National Constituent Assembly (ANC), to leave the Kasbah, we have the impression of attending a remake.
With one difference …
The current anti-Ennahdha barrage is not attributable to the poor record, in the eyes of some, of the first ten months of the current government, led by Mr. Youssef Chahed, of which this formation is part. It is rather due, a little, to the errors made by the Troika in power and, a lot, to the characteristics and objectives of this formation, in the eyes of its detractors: a fundamentalist Islamist party, whose project is to impose on Tunisia a creeping Islamization, and which is suspected of relations with jihadist groups, therefore terrorists.
Of course, the anti-Ennahdha campaign is nothing new. It only declined a little in intensity after this formation left the government in 2014, then gradually regained its intensity thereafter to peak in the last few weeks. More precisely after the outbreak of the Gulf crisis.
As if some, in Tunisia and also abroad, wanted to take advantage of the standoff between a group of countries led by Saudi Arabia and Qatar, and whose relations of this small emirate with Islamist parties and groups – and terrorists , say its detractors – to get the Islamist party out of power.
The first attack on Ennahdha came from abroad. On June 17, 2017, Sky News Arabia broadcast a documentary implicating him and its president Rached Ghannouchi in the assassination of opponent Chokri Belaïd. The television channel affirms in particular that this figure of the extreme left had been liquidated, on behalf of Qatar, because it held documents proving the implication of this country in the taking of hostages of Aïn Amenas. in Algeria in January 2013.
The second attack came on July 4, 2017, this time from within. On that day, the president of the Free Destourien Party (PDL), Abir Moussi, lawyer and former deputy secretary general of the Rassemblement constitutionnel democratique (RCD, the party in power before January 14, 2011) in charge of women, asked during ‘a press conference, the opening of an investigation into the funds received from abroad by several political parties.
But quickly, Ms. Moussi focused her accusations on the Islamist party which, according to her, had obtained 150 million dollars from the Qatari state, just days after its victory in the election of October 23, 2013.
In support of her accusations, the president of the Free Destourien Party does not produce irrefutable evidence. She only recalls a few facts which, according to them, are likely to give credibility to her accusations.

Allegations. Including statements from the Syrian Embassy Youssef Alhamad to the Syrian satellite channel, and a report from the Al Arabiya television channel, broadcast on June 17, 2017, according to which “Qatari funds were sent to Ennahdha in the form of projects for development through associations ”.
As one would expect, the Islamist party was quick to react to deny the allegations of Ms. Moussi and Sky News Arabia.
However, these are not the only puzzles of the Ennahdha movement. This formation presents other weaknesses that its enemies do not hesitate to exploit whenever the opportunity arises. Especially since the international context is now conducive to such maneuvers of destabilization.
Indeed, at the start of the Arab Spring, in 2011, the participation of Islamists in the exercise of power, the main Western powers are much less favorable today, not to say that they are totally opposed to it.
This change did not escape the Nahdhaoui leaders and if they still had a doubt about it, it certainly dissipated at the beginning of this year when the new administration considered, before suspending it, to include the Muslim Brotherhood movement, to which Ennahdha is affiliated, on the list of terrorist organizations.
Rached Ghannouchi’s party did not wait for this episode to understand that it had to react and adapt to the new international political situation. He did this by fighting on the ideological, political and societal fronts.
Ideologically, the turn was taken and revealed on the eve of the tenth congress of the movement (May 20-22, 2016) in an interview with the daily Le Monde by Rached Ghannouchi. The latter proclaims that his movement “leaves political Islam” to “enter Muslim democracy”. And that this party will henceforth be a democratic and civil political party, having a repository of Muslim and modern civilizational values.
Politically, then, the Islamist party tries, as best it can, to distance itself from the movement of the Muslim Brotherhood, and also to convince that it has nothing to do with the jihadist and terrorist movements. This for the curative aspect.

Protective shield. For the present and for the future, the priority of the leaders of the Ennahdha movement today seems to be to constitute a protective shield against the activities of their enemies.
The Muslim Brotherhood, first. So, is Ennahdha a member of this movement? For some, it is yes. Hamadi Jebali, former head of government (from December 2011 to February 2013) and secretary general of the Islamist party, is one of them. He confirmed this fact in an interview in 2011.
Rached Ghannouchi himself denies any link between his party and the “Brotherhood of the Muslim Brotherhood”. “We are a Tunisian party subject to Tunisian law and nothing else,” he said.
But, strangely enough, when a Palestinian newspaper, Al Hayet Al Jadida, reported on a letter that the president of Ennahdha would have sent in April 2016 to this organization to, according to the newspaper, announce that the Islamist party Tunisian was going to break with it, the office of Mr. Ghannouchi denies the information categorically.
In the process, Rafik Abdessalem, adviser and son-in-law of the president of Ennahdha, adds to the confusion by declaring that the movement “Ennahdha is not part of the Muslim Brotherhood”.
Words that Ali Larayedh, former head of government (from February 2013 to January 2014) and president of the 10th Congress, hastens to qualify: “Ennahdha does not deny the movement of the Muslim Brotherhood but is not attached to it either. . In short, the question is total on this subject.
Then there is the question of the relationship with jihadist and terrorist movements. There, it is much more the past attitude than the present of Ennahdha that his enemies point the finger at. Although the fact of continuing to maintain contacts with the Libyan Abdelkrim Belhaj, the military leader who led the insurgency against Gaddafi and is suspected of connections with Daesh, is likely to fuel suspicion towards the Islamist party .
Many Tunisians criticize the training of Rached Ghannouchi in particular and the Troika in general for having shown, at best, naivety, at worst, culpable connivance, by allowing jihadists to organize, train and arm themselves as they please, between 2012 and 2013.

Statements. Of course, the Nahdhaouis still refuse to admit such responsibility. But these denials are undermined by the past statements of Ennahdha’s top government leaders and officials on their own about jihado-terrorists.
“They are young people and they remind me of my youth” (Ghannouchi); “They train just to get rid of cholesterol” (Ali Larayedh, former interior minister and former head of government, on training camps); and “We have 100,000 jihadists” (statement made in 2013 by Noureddine Bhiri, former Minister of Justice, currently head of the Ennahdha parliamentary group).
Fed up with being permanently under heavy fire from their enemies, and, above all, fearing possible repercussions on Tunisia – and therefore on their party – of the standoff between a coalition of Arab countries led by Saudi Arabia and Qatar , one of the challenges of which is precisely the relations of this country with the Islamist movements, the Nahdhaoui leaders seek to cement their defenses to preserve their current position as a member of the government coalition as well as all the advantages that this gives them.
The announcement, on June 6, 2017, of the creation of a permanent higher coordination body between Ennahdha and the presidential party is part of this strategy.
The stabilization of the political debate, more clearly the cessation of the attacks to which it is the object, which Ennahdha calls for, is more complicated to obtain.
This would pass, according to the Islamist party, through the development of a very strange “National Moral Pact” (PMN) intended to “put an end to hatred and the crisis of political morality”, in the words of Lotfi Hermassi, senior executive of Ennahdha. It is not this communication officer of the regional office of the Islamist party in Kasserine, but Khaled Chouket, former minister in the government of Youssef Chahed, and ex-activist, in his youth, of the… Movement of the Islamic tendency (MTI , now Ennahdha) who launched this idea in mid-July 2017.
The former Minister in charge of Relations with Parliament and spokesperson for the Essid government proposes that all parties, national organizations and media sign this pact prior to obtaining their approval.

Form of censorship. In other words, Mr. Chouket, who has visibly forgotten that the media, political parties and civil society organizations are no longer subject to the authorization regime, wants to re-establish a form of censorship in order to silence the critics, many of whom are concerned. is true, addressed to his former party (Ennahdha) and to the formation to which he belongs today. Not sure that the project wins the support of many Tunisians.
Finally, the societal aspect. Conservatism being a reproach – one more – addressed to it by many Tunisians, Ennahdha endeavors to give pledges in this area as well. The party which, at the time of the drafting of the Constitution in 2013, was reluctant to recognize that the woman is the equal of the man and proposed to consider her as “the complement of the man”, since put a little ‘water in… his wine. He not only withdrew this absurd proposal, but his deputies voted on July 26, 2017, for the organic law on the eradication of violence against women. And the “facelift” could extend to still delicate issues, such as homosexuality.
In February 2017, Lotfi Zitoun, political advisor to the president of the party, pleaded for the decriminalization of cannabis use and homosexuality. Certainly, he was in a way put in his place a month later, by Zoubeir Chehoudi, director of Rached Ghannouchi’s cabinet and member of the Majlis al-Shoura, who declared that this body had decided on “the imperative to respect Arab-Islamic values ​​”on these issues. Nevertheless, the debate is launched …

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