Tunisia, like Egypt, fell to Islamists in the wake of the Arab Spring. It’s now overrun with Salafist thugs trying to enforce Islamic law, with the reported collaboration and/or tolerance of the Islamist government.
Unlike the street battles between the Muslim Brotherhood and the opposition in Egypt, the battles between the secular opposition in Tunisia and Ali Larayedh’s police state thugs have gone mostly unreported. Now, after a political assassination by Salafists, Jebali is out and Ali Larayedh is the new Prime Minister.
All that set the stage for another approving McCain visit to an Arab Spring disaster area.
According to accounts of the meeting, McCain thanked Larayedh for his commitment to protect the US embassy [from] any further attempt to attack” it.
It was nice of McCain to word that in the future tense because Larayedh, despite his facility at targeting opposition protests, failed to protect the United States embassy in Tunis on September 11.
It took intervention from Tunisia’s somewhat more moderate president to do that who sent in his presidential guard. If McCain should have been thanking anyone, it’s not Islamist hardliners like Larayedh, but President Marzouki.
As hundreds of people swarmed the U.S. embassy in Tunis last Friday afternoon, the phone rang in the office of the country’s President, Moncef Marzouki. It was Hillary Clinton, pleading with him to help secure the American compound, just up the hill from his sprawling seaside palace. So Marzouki played a risky political card: he dispatched his presidential guards to the embassy, effectively muscling in on the country’s military and police forces — a show of strength in an intense power struggle between secular Tunisians like himself and the Islamic party that dominates the government.
“We sent hundreds of our presidential guards with a lot of arms,” said Mansar, recalling Clinton’s two calls on Friday. “Half the arrests were made by our guards, whose job is only to protect the President and his staff.”
We don’t know what might have happened in Tunis had Marzouki failed to act. Instead McCain chose to thank a police state thug whose forces are better at knocking out the eyes of labor protesters than stopping Salafists.
Worse still Larayedh shrugged as Tunisia’s one known Benghazi attacker was set free.
Tunisia’s new prime minister says there is no evidence to link a Tunisian to the September attack on a U.S. diplomatic mission in Libya that killed the American ambassador and three others.
Prime Minister Ali Larayedh told The Associated Press: “May the party who has proof step forward.”
Tunisian authorities said last year that they “strongly suspected” that the Tunisian, Ali Harzi, 28, was linked to the Sept. 11 Benghazi attack that killed U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens.
But instead of holding the Tunisian Islamist regime accountable, McCain gave it a pat on the back.