Tunisian President Kais Saied first sacked Prime Minister Hisham al-Mechichi, followed by the country’s ministers of justice and defense. President Saied, who froze the powers of the elected parliament, also lifted the immunity of deputies. Although Saied claims to have acted in accordance with the constitution, make no mistake: this is indeed a “coup.” As a matter of fact, all attempts by parliament speaker Rachid al-Gannouchi and his deputies to enter the Assembly were also thwarted by security forces.
It is clear that Kais Saied is trying to make a grab for power that has nothing to do with the Constitution. Saied saw the protests against the government as the most opportune moment for the usurpation of power, on the grounds that economic conditions were deteriorating.
Actually, what happened did not come as a surprise. U.K.-based news website the Middle East Eye (MEE) had published a story in late May claiming that Kais Saied was preparing to stage a coup.
Despite the Carthage Palace denying the plan's existence, the unfolding of the events in Tunisia confirmed the report by the MEE.
Tunisia was the country where the first spark of the Arab Spring, which has since turned into an "Arab Winter," was lit. The popular revolt, which started when a Tunisian street vendor set himself ablaze, ended with the overthrowing of dictator Zine el Abidine Ben Ali.
Tunisia, the last bastion of the Arab Spring, was embroiled in a new crisis following the coup staged by President Kais Saied, which pleased the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Israel the most. These are the countries most perturbed by the fortification of democracy in the eyes of civil society across the Arab world. Likewise, these were the very same regimes that supported General Sisi’s coup in Egypt.
President Saied had also obstructed the election of members of the new Constitutional Court, whose establishment was agreed to by the Assembly. Saied's stubborn resistance to the establishment of the Constitutional Court was yet another sign of his desire to keep all administrative powers concentrated with him. It seems that Kais Saied does not want a Constitutional Court that would limit his powers and monitor the constitutionality of his decisions.
Instead of freezing the Assembly's powers, Saied could have ensured the appointment of a new prime minister who had won the approval of all parties. Kais Saied's failure to declare an election is considered an indication that it is indeed a power grab. Not to mention the closure of the Tunisian office of TV channel Al Jazeera. When you put all these together, it is quite clear where Kais Saied intends to take the nascent Tunisian democracy.
Kais Said claims to have consulted with the speaker of the Assembly and the prime minister in accordance with the Constitution. This means that the speaker himself had to express a favorable opinion about freezing the Parliament, suspending the immunity of deputies, and dismissing the prime minister. Have you ever heard such nonsense? It is obvious that Kais' claim that he acted in accordance with the Constitution was meant to mislead the international public. Suspending the immunity of deputies leaves the door open for arrests. Can anyone explain how the attempt to intimidate the people's deputies by covertly threatening them is compatible with the Constitution and democracy?
Will the U.S. and the Western world accept Kais’ coup? It would come as no surprise if they did, after these very same administrations rolled out the red carpet for Sisi in Egypt, who overthrew the elected president with a military coup and imprisoned and murdered thousands of civilians. As a matter of fact, the reactions from the West to the bizarre statements of Kais Saied and his supporters after the coup were sloppy, vague, and do not go much further than keeping up appearances. The U.S. and the rest of the Western world refrained from calling what transpired in Tunisia a "coup." Why?
The autocratic regimes in the Middle East can maintain their grip on power thanks to the public and covert support provided to them by the U.S. and the West. Billions of dollars funneled to these regimes from the West line the pockets of the regime's elite, strengthening their security apparatuses and extremely weakening the people. How is Spring supposed to bloom in countries that have long been deprived of a “power-balancing” system?