The Tunisian Political Crisis; the end of Democracy?

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Youssef Cherif runs the Columbia Global Centers | Tunis, the North and West African research centre of Columbia University. He is a Tunis-based political analyst, member of Carnegie’s Civic Activism Network, and a regular contributor to number of think-tanks (Carnegie, ISPI, IAI, IEMed, etc.). He consulted previously for IWPR, IACE, the United Nations, The Carter Center, and the Tunisian Institute for Strategic Studies (ITES). He comments on North African affairs for several media outlets, including Al Jazeera, BBC, DW, France 24, among others. He holds a Chevening Master of Arts in International Relations from the Dept. of War Studies of King’s College London, and a Fulbright Master of Arts in Classical Studies from Columbia University. Youssef is the editor of the book The Modern Arab State: A Decade of Uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa, Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, 2021.

Dr Anne Wolf is a Fellow at All Souls College, University of Oxford, where she teaches Authoritarian Politics. She holds a doctorate from the University of Oxford (St Antony’s College) and an MPhil in Politics and International Relations from the University of Cambridge (Clare College), where she was previously the Margaret Smith Research Fellow in Politics and International Relations (Girton College). Her 2017 book Political Islam in Tunisia: The History of Ennahda, published by Oxford University Press, won the CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title. Her second book, Ben Ali’s Tunisia: Power and Contention in an Authoritarian Regime is forthcoming with OUP. Wolf has published numerous journal articles on Authoritarian Politics in the Arab world. She is an Associate Editor at the Journal of North African Studies and a Senior Research Fellow at the Project of Middle East Democracy.

On 25 July 2021 Tunisian President Kais Saied dismissed the government and suspended parliament, subsequently employing the army and security forces around government buildings to thwart any opposition to his power grab. How did Tunisia – long hailed as a democratic model in the region – reach such a stage? Who is President Saied and what does he plan on doing? What are his sources of power and support, both within Tunisia and internationally? And does his power grab mean the end of Tunisian democracy? This panel will tackle these questions and more.