Tunisian President Kais Saied owes the Palestinian cause one of the decisive factors that brought him to power in the elections of 2019. In addition to the image that was painted for him in the election campaign – as him outside partisan classifications, free of any manifestations of corruption, and not beholden to any internal or external party, political, financial or diplomatic – Palestine appeared at a decisive juncture in the middle of the two rounds: the first and second, which brought Said face to face with Candidate Nabil Karoui.
While Tunisians were looking forward to what the political scene would become after those elections, one of the channels – which would later become the most supportive of President Kais Saied in the steps he took, which were considered by those who rejected it as a coup against the democratic path – broadcast an audio and video recording made in Canada by an unknown journalist. He later quickly disappeared from sight, with what was described as a former officer in the Israeli army, named Ari Ben Menashe, who was said to own a public relations company. He stated in the interview that the candidate competing with Saied – that is, Nabil Karoui – had paid him money as part of his presidential election campaign to He is running a public relations campaign on his behalf that enhances his chances of winning the presidency of Tunisia, and his acceptance in Western circles as a statesman who can be dealt with.
That dialogue was enough to burn Karoui’s last cards and strengthen the fortunes of Saied, who was asked in the presidential election television debate about several matters. Among them is the issue of normalization with Israel, so the man raised his slogan – which he repeated again after he became president – which is: “Normalization is treason.”
He has brothers logo:
This sentence was not isolated in its context, as it was included in the speech of President Kais Saied, along with its sisters that appeared successively on several occasions, such as that the Palestinian issue is not subject to a statute of limitations, that the Palestinian people have the right to recover their land from the river to the sea, and that the Tunisian state will do everything What it could to support him, and the tone of the speech sometimes rose to the point of saying: “Palestine is not a farm until it is the subject of a deal,” in a clear reference to the project proposed by former President Donald Trump to settle the Palestinian issue, and the current Biden administration is still moving within its specifications. the public.
With the outbreak of the current Israeli war on Gaza – the one that followed Hamas’ attacks on the Gaza Cover Division in the Israeli army, and the associated settlements – the spotlight returned, with Tunisian President Kais Saied taking a share of it with two remarkable positions, namely: abstaining from voting in favor of an Arab resolution in the General Assembly. To the United Nations, he called for a ceasefire in Gaza and to break the siege imposed on the Gaza Strip, and before him he made reservations on an Arab League resolution that dealt with the same developments. In both cases, Tunisian diplomacy considered that the proposed approaches equated – in an apparent or hidden way – between the executioner and the victim, and did not amount to a guarantee. Palestinian rights, with the necessary strict stance and effective measures.
The Tunisian position reminded many of the positions of Gaddafi’s Libya, when the late colonel raised the bar in Arab-Arab debates, blaming Arab officials who held summits to raise censure and contented themselves with expressions of condemnation and denunciation.
However, the comparison is based on similar aspects, and in return ignores fundamental differences, given that time and geography have differed, because President Saeed is not Gaddafi, even if we believe those who whisper that he was one of his admirers, and sees in him inspiring leadership and experience, just as Libya – Which was and still is swimming in abundant oil and gas wealth – this is not Tunisia, which is drowning in a stifling economic crisis that has affected the capabilities of the state and the livelihood of its citizens, as everyone admits, even President Saied himself.
In any case, Tunisians were divided – as is their wont – over the position on President Saied’s policy. Among those who see it as a manifestation of what they describe as the sovereign national line, which translates, in a clearer and stronger way, Tunisia’s historical commitment to the Palestinian cause.
Another group finds in this speech and its tone a departure from the traditions of Tunisian diplomacy, which has always balanced support for the Palestinian right and the necessity of Arab unity, in addition to international relations that include the United States and Western countries with broad and influential political and economic relations with Tunisia.
These opponents also found President Saied’s positions – related to the Palestinian file – a “populist leap” over reality, which reminds everyone who forgets that Tunisia does not, in fact, have – other than strong words and resonant phrases – economic or military cards that give what comes from its leadership real and weighty value. .
The extremists within this position expand their criticism of President Saied and his positions, to the point of pointing out that these positions did not stop the pilgrimage of Israelis to the historic Ghriba Synagogue on the Tunisian island of Djerba, nor did they stop what was published by specialized international economic bodies about the continuation of trade relations between Tunisia and Tunisia. And Israel, and it did not adequately dispel what was said about the anger of its sisterly allied neighbor, Algeria, when unconfirmed news circulated about a timid Tunisian intention to normalize relations with Israel, with the encouragement of countries that strongly supported President Saied’s ending of what was known in Tunisia as the decade of democratic transition, and the opening of a path July 25 established a presidential rule with absolute powers, replacing it with a fragile and faltering parliamentary system.
Tunisia – according to what was published by Algerian media outlets – was quick to move through its diplomacy towards Algeria to remove the confusion and confirm that President Saied has not changed his compass, and that despite his country’s close relations with leading Arab regimes in normalization – led by the UAE and Egypt – this does not mean, and will not mean In any case, normalization with Israel.
While the camp supporting President Said’s path clings to the man’s honesty and steadfastness in principle with regard to the Palestinian issue – stressing the high symbolic value of that position in a time of disappointment and the Arab official system’s call to normalization – others are waiting before relying on an actual result of the rhetorical abundance with which President Said deals with many… Of issues, including the Palestinian issue. An abundance that made him, in their view, link Hurricane Daniel – which struck Libya, leaving a large number of victims and massive destruction – with the Zionist movement, invoking a dictionary that was long absent from Arab officialdom, which for years stopped talking about the “Zionist project” and the “Zionist movement.”
They do this while they see President Said taking the initiative, without hesitation, to announce full support for Gaza in the “Al-Aqsa Flood,” approaching, without declaring it, the logic that there is no voice louder than the sound of a gun, and the gun in the “Flood” is nothing but a Hamas Brotherhood gun that had sent a warm congratulatory telegram. When he won the elections in 2019, however – for unclear considerations – he avoided, according to the hints of Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri, meeting a delegation of the movement that visited Tunisia at a later time.
Are they really slogans and words without credit?
It is too early to rush to a definitive judgment like this, because the balance in question in this case does not only mean the extent of the ability of President Said himself to transform his slogans into an actual reality embodied in diplomatic, financial, and perhaps military support in some way for the Palestinian Authority and the Palestinian resistance, but rather the balance could mean counter-effects. It is a price that Tunisia pays for its declared positions at the hands of an American administration and Western countries that have declared their absolute bias towards Israel, and are not accustomed to tolerating those who go beyond expressions of support for the Palestinians to actions that are significant and disturbing to Israel’s security and survival.
At this point, Tunisian positions on the Palestinian issue become a card on the table for Tunisian and Western-American relations on the other side. At that table there are other calculations and considerations, as Said, who is passionate about the Palestinian right, is the one who is about to relieve the West in general and France in particular from the nightmare of political Islam that seeks to create a Turkish experience that Paris abhors in the southern bank of the Mediterranean, and he is also; That is, the Tunisian president, who concluded an unprecedented agreement with the European Union in the field of irregular migration, which delighted the President of the European Commission, Ursula Vander Leyen, and the Italian Prime Minister, Giorgia Meloni.
So, he is Kais Saied, the owner of a policy with multiple facets and dimensions, and yet he is a president behind whom stands a “deep state” with a long-standing political and security mind, who understands the changes, but he most likely knows his limits well, especially when the matter reaches the point of an attack carried out by a security element. In June of this year, it targeted the “Jewish Quarter” in “Djerba”, leaving behind a number of victims, in a reminder of previous attacks that reminded of a Tunisian-Israeli relationship that went through bloody stages in some aspects. Starting with Israeli raids on the headquarters of the Liberation Organization in the “Hammam Al-Shat” area, through the assassination of “Abu Jihad” in the “Sidi Bou Said” suburb, and from there to the assassination of engineer Muhammad Al-Zouari, whose marches became one of the components of the Hamas movement’s fleet of marches, which She was keen to display it as part of her arsenal, which she prepared for the “Al-Aqsa Flood” battle.
The fatal shot:
The political echelon in Israel did not react to the positions of Tunisian President Kais Saied except through tweets and statements by Eddie Cohen – which do not express the official position, even if they were issued by what some describe as one of the advisors to the current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – partly mocking the slogan “Normalization is betrayal.” President Saied’s explanation of the background behind naming Hurricane Daniel in Libya.
However, readings see Tunisian Parliament Speaker Ibrahim Bouderbala’s withdrawal, based on President Saied’s opinion, of a draft law criminalizing normalization with Israel – under the pretext that its adoption would harm Tunisian national security and the country’s higher interests – as an actual standard by which the distance between words and deeds can be measured, not in terms of sincerity. President Saeed is far from judging intentions, but rather about the effects that such a step might lead to.
While Bouderbala did not mention – even as a defense of himself against those who accused him of dropping the project – the details of those risks, or the messages that might have reached the Tunisian presidency that prompted him to order the withdrawal of the project, what remains certain is that Israel and its allies cannot be satisfied with ignoring or belittling a step. In this way, even if it remains symbolic in its context, for fear that it will open the door to other similar steps, or at least for fear that it will raise the level of anger in an Arab street that sees no excuse for its governments’ negligence regarding the Palestinian issue.
With his high rhetorical ceiling, Tunisian President Kais Saied is likely to continue launching his rhetorical missiles, as he repeatedly said: “On its platforms, it is launched from time to time whenever the need arises.” Perhaps the most immediate need is suitable for upcoming electoral dates, in which it is unlikely that he will dispense with it. President Said spoke of his “killing bullet,” which was the Palestinian issue. However, the scene changed this time, as there was no Nabil Karoui, nor was there a filmed dialogue with an Israeli officer named Ari Ben Menashe who was suddenly met during his election campaign. This time, there is President Kais Saied alone, with broad powers, facing a severe economic crisis, and internal and external calls for dialogue in order to overcome it… before and after any fiery stance on the Palestinian issue… no matter how sincere the intentions behind it are.