By Jean-Jacques Cornish
Yesterday’s terror attack in Tunia shows the country that gave birth to the Arab Spring four years ago is paying the price for events before and after that earth-shaking political development.
It has dealt a body blow to the fragile democracy in that country.
President Beji Caid Essebsi has declared a war on terrorism.
However, his government is struggling to deal with both the hangover of the deposed Ben Ali regime and the new wave of jihadism that’s crashed down on the Arab world since then.
More Tunisians have to gone to fight for Islamic State in Syria and Iraq than from any other Arab country.
The authorities have stopped about 9 000 Tunisians from doing this. But at least 3 000 have slipped through the net.
The radicalised young men who have returned are preying on the disaffection with the unemployment and poverty dating back to ousted dictator Ben Ali.
This is creating fertile ground for unrest and violent protest.
The jihadis have no trouble getting arms.
Disintegrating Libya next door is a virtual arsenal for violence dissidents not only in Tunisia but the whole region.
The returning terrorists are like radicalised young mujahedin coming home to Western neighbour Algeria twenty years ago after fighting the Russians in Afghanistan.
It has taken the Algerian authorities two decades to deal with its terror problem and some might argue they still have not fully succeeded.
The Tunisians are dealing with a more brazen and focused brand of jihadis.
Yesterday’s attack was clearly aimed at the country’s crucial tourism industry.
Tunisia is economically reliant on at least four million tourists visiting it beaches, health spas, deserts and historical attractions.
That number is only now picking up after the violence that followed the Arab Spring.
It was less than in other countries that experienced this phenomenon – but enough to scare away visitors.
Yesterday’s tourists were visiting what they believed was a country that had regained its status as the safest place in the region.
The horrible reality that some of them will not be going home rings around the world.