Once again Tunisia, the country that launched the Arab Spring, is seeing uncertain days. People have taken to the streets across the country protesting high unemployment and poverty, sometimes violently. Much like in 2011, they are demanding immediate action from the government. One man set himself on fire, an echo of Mohamed Bouazizi, whose self-immolation in 2010 sparked the protests in Tunisia that toppled Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali and led to the Arab Spring.
But what do these new protests mean five years later amid a much more unstable and dangerous Middle East? And how is ISIS taking advantage of the situation?
Some speculate that this recent unrest is unlikely to lead to a call to overthrow the government, because Tunisians supposedly aren’t looking for a revolution. This time it’s just about economic concerns.
But it’s important to remember that, although also about political freedom and authoritarian rule, the revolt in 2011 was also largely about unemployment and poor living conditions in the face of government corruption. Ben Ali and other political elites were known to be living in luxury while the Tunisian people languished. Economic woes very well could spark a revolt for a people who have proven themselves very comfortable with civil disobedience.