March 03, 2011
Tunisia & the deep security state
An interesting article and point of reflexion for Tunisia, and the ongonig problems there. I continue to disagree with Shaheen re Ghannouchi, I think the problems are at another level, an operational level. This article hints at deeper level, and underscores my sense that changing the top faces is not the proper response.
FT.com / Middle East & North Africa - Tense Tunisia strives for stability
But the credibility of this process is in danger of being undermined by unrest that some observers say is being organised, and funded, by members of Mr Ben Ali’s security forces, possibly acting for those with financial interests at risk. Despite the replacement of many departmental heads in the interior ministry, the politicians have failed to gain full control of the security services.
Mr Ghannouchi had been prime minister since 1999, remaining in office even after the uprising. Despite his attempts to reinvent himself as a convert to the revolution, and his reputation as someone who had not personally enriched himself, his association with Mr Ben Ali’s government had become a sticking point for demonstrators on the streets. ....
.... In two incidents last weekend, Hana Trabelsi and Sofiane Chourabi, two blogger journalists, were assaulted by plainclothes policemen while covering protests in Tunis. Such attacks on journalists, a fact of life under the previous regime, had been thought a thing of the past.
Security service personnel are still warning ministers against visiting the provinces, complains one senior politician, speaking off the record. “They say they can’t guarantee ministers’ security there. But if we went there, it would be they who would organise some aggression against us.”
The last comment is at once chilling and probably true.
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Indeed. The Interior Minister, Farhat Rajhi, an actual independent figure, has been agressed the first day he took office by his own staff, and he only made it alive by escaping from a window, literally, with soldiers protecting him.
At this point, the police is kind of cleaned up at the very top - and kept in check at the very bottom of the hierarchy with increased salaries and control. The in-between is the biggest threat now and it is not know how the country is going to deal with them.
Plus, how do you get rid of 150-200K useless policemen all of a sudden anyway? (I'd probably retire many, and move many others under army command, but even that could get you rid of what? 50% tops?).