The Middle East Channel

Ennahda Concedes to Nidaa Tounes in Tunisia’s Elections

Tunisia’s moderate Islamist Ennahda party has conceded parliamentary elections to its main secular rival Nidaa Tounes following the release of preliminary results. Official results have yet to be announced, but Nidaa Tounes said it has won at least 83 seats in the 217-member assembly over about 65 seats secured by Ennahda. Senior Ennahda official Lotfi ...

FETHI BELAID/AFP/Getty Images
FETHI BELAID/AFP/Getty Images

Tunisia’s moderate Islamist Ennahda party has conceded parliamentary elections to its main secular rival Nidaa Tounes following the release of preliminary results. Official results have yet to be announced, but Nidaa Tounes said it has won at least 83 seats in the 217-member assembly over about 65 seats secured by Ennahda. Senior Ennahda official Lotfi Zitoun congratulated Nidaa Tounes, but called for the inclusion of Ennahda in the new coalition, for the formation of a unity government. Nidaa Tounes was established to counter Ennahda, and is led by Beji Caid Essebsi, a former parliament speaker under ousted President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, and the party includes other former Ben Ali officials, as well as union leaders and independent and secular politicians.

Syria

Turkey’s Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has rejected criticism over Turkey’s policy on Kobani (Ayn al-Arab), where Kurdish forces supported by U.S.-led airstrikes are battling Islamic State fighters. Davutoglu said Turkey cannot be expected to send ground troops if the international coalition is not sending combat forces. He additionally asserted "Saving Kobani is very important but we should not forget that Kobani is just a result of a much bigger, much more widespread crisis in Syria." The prime minister stressed that only Syrian opposition fighters and Kurdish peshmerga forces could defend the Syrian border city and that Turkey would "accelerate" training and equipping of rebel fighters. Meanwhile, a video seemingly produced by the Islamic State group was released Monday that appeared to show British photojournalist John Cantlie, who was abducted over two years ago, in Kobani in an apparent bid to discredit claims that Islamic State fighters are losing the battle over the city.

Headlines

  • Two explosions killed an estimated 42 people in Iraq Monday, including a suicide bombing targeting Shiite militiamen in Jurf al-Sakhar and a car bombing in Baghdad.
  • A Saudi Arabian court has imprisoned three lawyers on accusations of slandering the judicial system on Twitter.
  • Israeli officials said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has ordered the advance of planning for 1,000 new settler homes in East Jerusalem amid increased tensions.
  • Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has stepped up a crackdown on militants placing civilian facilities including roads, bridges, gas lines, and power stations under military authority.

Arguments and Analysis

Politics by Other Means: Conflicting Interests in Libya’s Security Sector‘ (Wolfram Lacher and Peter Cole, Small Arms Survey)

"The transitional authorities were swiftly overwhelmed by the rapid evolution and growing fragmentation of the security sector. Libya’s army, which had partially disintegrated during the revolution, has since undergone major changes that have been driven largely by its component elements, rather than by the government or army leadership. The Supreme Security Committee (SSC) began as a ‘top-down’ initiative by the NTC to register revolutionary fighters (thuwwar) under the Ministry of Interior, but the groups it included quickly developed interests of their own. In contrast, the ‘bottom-up’ initiative known as the Libya Shield Forces (LSF)-which was then recognized officially by the state-was composed of large revolutionary armed groups that intended to replace or obstruct the army.

As Libya’s fragmented political scene coalesced into two rival camps in 2014, the component elements of these three institutions-the SSC, the LSF, and the army-emerged as key actors in escalating conflicts. Much of the SSC has been dismantled; the LSF has broken up into its regional and political components; and the army continues to undergo rapid and chaotic change. Competing interest groups within these three institutions, however, have remained largely constant and engaged in fierce power struggles over the security sector’s future. These power struggles are at the heart of Libya’s political crisis. By October 2014, they had given rise to two rival governments, two military leaderships, and two distinct claims to legitimacy."

Tunisian elections bring hope in uncertain times‘ (Benstead, Lust, Malouche, and Wichmann, The Washington Post)

"Sunday’s elections were enormously significant precisely because they were seemingly uneventful. The turnout was unexpectedly high, reaching over 60 percent of registered voters. Voting was peaceful, and as strong turnout figures came in, Tunisians were exuberant. Perhaps most important, the elections saw peaceful turnover of power. Nidaa Tunis, a party that emerged after uprisings against the Ennahda-led government, emerged the winner, and Ennahda conceded defeat. Now, negotiations over the Cabinet will begin, with all the usual haggling. In stark contrast to experiences in Egypt or Libya, Tunisia’s elections are ‘politics as normal.’"

Mary Casey

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