MENARA Papers. Precarious Resilience: Tunisia’s Libyan Predicament

MENARA Papers. Precarious Resilience: Tunisia’s Libyan Predicament

Publication date:
04/2017
Author:
Hamza Meddeb, Research Fellow in the Middle East Directions Programme of the Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies (RSCAS), European University Institute (EUI), Florence.
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Menara Future Notes nº. 5

The chaos engulfing Libya is proving to be particularly destabilizing for its neighbouring country, Tunisia. Currently, the country’s ongoing democratic transition is at risk of faltering due to the disorder emanating from its south-eastern neighbour, which threatens to further exacerbate tensions in the border region. Tunisia is trying to contain the risk of instability through active participation in a diplomatic initiative involving Libya’s neighbouring countries, aimed at reconciling the various groups and resolving the long-standing polarization and fragmentation within Libyan society. However, economic hardships, the emerging conflict economy proliferating across the Tunisia–Libya border and the backlash of increasing securitization of the border regions, intended to contain the terrorist threat and the risk of violent spillover from Libya, are threatening to worsen the pre-existing fault lines in the border regions and weaken Tunisia’s resilience, namely the ability of the state and society to manage external crises and to implement much-needed reforms to address the long list of social grievances, economic alienation and political disillusionment in the periphery. The Libyan predicament is impacting Tunisia’s weak economy and its precarious political arrangements, as the increased polarization within the country is fuelled by the actions of regional and international players who threaten to spread their proxy war across North Africa and, with regard to Libya, limit Tunisia’s efforts to find a diplomatic solution.