Ennahdha-Qatar-United States: Dangerous Liaisons


For his first post-election trip, Rached Ghannouchi, the leader of the Ennahdha party, visited the Emir of Qatar.  No surprise — he has to thank his sponsors and reassure them on their investments.

This visit is worrisome, since Ennahdha is now the leading political force in Tunisia.  It is clear that the party is financed by a foreign country, whose interests are suspicious (in my personal opinion), and which has, as is its right, harbored Sakher El Materi since he fled the country on 14 January 2011. . . .  By the way, I hope that the sheikh found time to visit his dear friend and to reassure him on his Zitouna Radio (whose launching he had felicitated in 2007 via a public communiqué).

Speaking of Sakher El Materi, it’s worth remembering that not a word has been said on Qatar’s news network Al Jazeera about Ben Ali’s kind who have found a bed of roses in Qatar.  Objective and professional journalism, would you say?  Again, no surprise — especially when you consider that, during the electoral campaign, we hardly saw anything other than Ennahdha on Al Jazeera.  (The information control unit under the ISIE, Tunisia’s election commission, moreover confirmed it in its report.)

But it’s not just Qatar’s support.  Paradoxical as it may seem, Ennahdha also enjoys US support.  The Americans must have thought about, for several years, how to play the “democracy and Isalm” card in the region.  The Wikileaks cables published this week by Takriz prove that.  The Ennahdha leaders’ dodging of questions concerning the role of the United States also confirms it.

I ask myself three burning questions: What is the new strategy of the United States in the region?  What role will it lead Qatar to play (let’s not forget that Qatar hosts a US military base and it has played its role in Libya hand in hand with NATO)?  And what will be the future of Tunisia?

Update: According to diplomatic sources, the Emir of Qatar will be the guest at the inauguration of the Constituent Assembly.

Sarah Ben Hamadi is a writer in La Marsa, Tunisia.  The original article “Ennahdha-Qatar-Etats-Unis : les liaisons dangereuses” was published in Un Oeil sur la Planète on 2 November 2011.  Translation by Yoshie Furuhashi (@yoshiefuruhashi | yoshie.furuhashi [at] gmail.com).   Cf. Today, Ennahdha Secretary General Hammadi Jbali publicly announced that the Emir of Qatar has indeed been invited to attend the Constituent Assembly inauguration.  Tellingly, he made that announcement at a meeting hosted by the Center of Young Business Leaders and the Konrad Adenauer Foundation.  The Communist Workers Party’s Hamma Hammami strongly opposes that invitation and has called upon others to oppose it too.

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