On November 15, the Middle East Institute hosted “Women’s Activism and Social Change,” the final panel of its annual conference. It brought together speakers Wafa Ben Hassine of AccessNow, Hind Aboud Kabawat of the Syrian High Negotiations Committee, Rania Al-Mashat of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Fawziah Bakr al-Bakr of Al Jazeera, and moderator Nafeesa Syeed of Bloomberg. Given recent developments in regard to the status and rights of women in various Arab countries, Syeed prompted the panelists to discuss the reception and impact of the changes, the concept of a “model” country, and how the role of women has changed since the Arab Uprisings.
Ben Hassine emphasized that changes in Tunisia have happened in response to internal developments over the last decade. She mentioned four changes for Tunisian women: the abrogation of Article 274, which had allowed for a rapist to marry his victim, the criminalization of violence against women, the passage of a law allowing Muslim women to marry non-Muslim men, and a change in Tunisia’s inheritance law proposed by President Essebsi that would allow women equal inheritance. These much-celebrated developments have primarily been driven by civil society organizations, but Ben Hassine asserted it is important to contextualize them. Reforms this summer occurred against the backdrop of discussions surrounding Tunisia’s controversial reconciliation law, heightened effects of economic downturn, and the postponement of municipal elections. The reforms, by extension, were an opportunity for the president to reconnect with his “betrayed base” and improve his standing.
Kabawat explained that though Syrian women had freedoms before 2011, these were largely surface-level and did not include political participation. Since 2011, women have had to bear the brunt of the Syrian conflict. Because many men have been imprisoned, killed, or driven out by other factors, women now constitute the majority in refugee camps and have also been drawn into economic participation. Kabawat also noted high enthusiasm among Syrian women to be included in political discussions. After Geneva talks, for example, Kabawat’s team deliver workshops to Syrian women, briefing them on developments. The talks themselves now impose a 30% quota on women’s participation, an achievement that was the result of a two-year struggle for inclusion. Besides being instrumental to meaningful reconciliation and justice, the involvement of women also decreased sectarian barriers. Describing Syria as a “mosaic society,” Kabawat explained that women’s organizations have always intentionally included members from across sects and religions.
Turning to Saudi Arabia, al-Bakr explained that when the Kingdom’s 2030 transformation plan was announced, it was considered unrealistic. With recent developments, however, many feel that they are “living the dream.” Besides the recent lifting of the ban on women drivers, other developments include the opening of the national stadium to women, the dismantling the guardianship law, which currently requires that Saudi women obtain permission from a male guardian to travel or access different services, and the discussion of a law in the Shura Council that would ban any discrimination on the basis of race, gender, or nationality. Unlike other countries where there is more enthusiasm on the social level for the changes proposed, Saudi Arabia is witnessing more government will to take the initiative. Social will, she explained, needs to increase, and value systems need to change. This includes engaging religious institutions as well as men, who presently hold all powerful positions in the country.
The issue of religion as an obstacle was one that all three panelists discussed. Ben Hassine and al-Bakr emphasized the undeniable importance of religion to their societies. Ben Hassine highlighted the importance of religious research and discouraged closing mosques, because it encourages people to turn to less legitimate sources of information. She also proposed that new developments not be presented as clashing with Islamic law. In the case of the inheritance reforms, for example, Ben Hassine suggested that equality in inheritance be considered the legal default, with the Islamic way of dividing inheritance an option for families who wish to follow it. Al-Bakr applauded the Saudi government’s recent efforts to limit the influence of conservative interpretations, saying that this creates safe spaces for women. She also mentioned other efforts to reconcile religion with reform, such as a center established by King Salman to re-study the Hadith, or teachings of the Prophet Muhammad. Kabawat stressed that it is not religion that is limiting women, but rather the general refusal of men to include women. Men on both ends of the spectrum–those who are extremely conservative and those who are extremely “progressive”–are to blame.
Al-Mashat noted that women’s participation is an issue that the IMF has labeled “macro-critical,” referring to the immense boost that it would give to global GDP. If women were equal to men in labor force participation, the GDP of Egypt would grow by 34%, the UAE by 14%, and Japan by 7%. Efforts to achieve such gains have been made–take the UAE’s new 30% quota in government boards.The exclusion of women in rural areas is a universal issue, as is the effect of freedom of expression in advancing women’s issues. The challenges are great, but so too is today’s progress across the Middle East in increasing women’s participation and recognizing their importance in creating and advancing social change.
- Countering Violent Extremism: Qatar, Iran, and the Muslim Brotherhood | Monday, October 23 | 11:30 am – 5:15 pm | Hudson Institute (held at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center) | Register Here | This full-day event includes two keynote addresses, the first by Secretary Leon E. Panetta, and the second by former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, as well as two panels titled “Sinews of Terrorism – Communications, Funding, and Ideological Support” and “New Dynamism in Congress.” General David H. Petraeus, formerly of the Central Intelligence Agency, and Ambassador Hussain Haqqani will also speak at the event.
- The Future of Orthodox Christianity in Syria and America | Tuesday, October 24 | 12:00 – 1:30 pm | Hudson Institute | Register Here | Over the last two thousand years, the Church of Antioch has played a major role in the formation and development of Christian theology and philosophy. Today the Church is facing tremendous challenges in its native homeland, Syria. Six years after the beginning of the Syrian civil war, the country is in ruins and millions of its citizens have become refugees or are internally displaced within Syria. The ongoing war has flamed sectarian tensions that threaten the existence of Christianity in one of its earliest locations. Though suffering at home, the Church of Antioch is flourishing abroad with a growing congregation in the United States. What place do Christians and the Antiochian Church have in the future of Syria? What role has the Church played in humanitarian assistance to the millions in need? Why is Orthodoxy finding renewed appeal in Western countries? For answers to these and many other questions regarding the future of Orthodox Christianity in Syria and America, Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom will host a conversation with His Beatitude, John X, Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, and His Eminence, Metropolitan Joseph, Metropolitan of All North America and Archbishop of New York. Hudson Senior Fellow Samuel Tadros will moderate the conversation.
- Tunisia’s Corruption Contagion | Wednesday, October 25 | 12:00 – 2:30 pm | Carnegie Endowment for International Peace | Register Here | Corruption in Tunisia is perceived to be even more pervasive today than under former president Zine el Abidine ben Ali, despite numerous legal measures and civil society initiatives working to fight it. In their upcoming Carnegie paper, “Tunisia’s Corruption Contagion: A Transition at Risk,” Sarah Yerkes and Marwan Muasher argue that corruption has become endemic, as more and more people engage in and benefit from corrupt practices. For the democratic transition to survive, Tunisia must simultaneously address the kleptocracy of the previous regime and the emergence of widespread petty corruption. Can Tunisia’s government and civil society win this fight? Yassine Brahim will provide keynote remarks, and Chaima Bouhlel and Safwan Masri will join Carnegie’s Sarah Yerkes in a discussion of the paper’s findings moderated by Marwan Muasher. Tunisian Ambassador to the United States Fayçal Gouia will provide closing remarks. A light lunch will be served at 12:00 p.m. The discussion will begin at 12:30 p.m.
- Trump and the Arab World: First Year Assessment and Policy Recommendations | Thursday, October 26 | 9:00 am – 5:00 pm | Arab Center DC (held at JW Marriott Washington DC) | Register Here | The Arab Center’s second annual conference will begin with an opening keynote titled “US Policy in the Arab World: An Arab Perspective given by Tarek Mitri of the American University of Beirut and will consist of four panels. The first panel, “What Arabs Want: Arab Public Opinion and US Policy,” will feature panelists Tamara Kharroub of the Arab Center DC, Dalia Mogahed of the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, and Shibley Telhami of the University of Maryland- College Park. The second, “US Policy and Political and Economic Challenges in the Arab World” will include Phyllis Bennis of the Institute for Policy Studies, Perry Cammack of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Hani Findakly of Potomac Capital, and Najib Ghadbian of the University of Arkansas and Special Representative of the Syrian National Coalition to the US. The panel will be moderated by Dina Khoury of George Washington University. The third panel is titled “US-Gulf Relations and US Policy in the Arabian Gulf,” and moderator Khalid Al-Jaber of Qatar University will be joined by Abdullah Baabood of Qatar University, Sheila Carapico of the University of Richmond, David Des Roches of the National Defense University, and Barbara Slavin of the Atlantic Council. The final panel, “US Policy Recommendations in the Arab World” will feature Marwan Kabalan of the Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies, Rami Khouri of the American University of Beirut, Ibrahim Fraihat of the Doha Institute for Graduate Studies, Ellen Laipson of George Mason University, and will be moderated by Laurie King of Georgetown University.
- Public Perspectives Toward Democracy | Thursday, October 26 | 12:30 pm | Council on Foreign Relations | Register Here | Panelists discuss global public opinion towards democracy amid the rise of populists and autocrats, and the implications for the future of democracy and U.S. foreign policy. Speakers include Stewart M. Patrick of the Council on Foreign Relations, Ken Wollack of the National Democratic Institute, and Katie Simmons of the Pew Research Center.
- The Path Forward on Iran: Contain, Enforce, Engage | Thursday, October 26 | 11:00 am – 12:00 pm | Carnegie Endowment for International Peace | Register Here | What comes next after President Donald Trump’s decision not to recertify the Iran nuclear deal? Experts from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the Center for a New American Security offer a suggested way ahead in a new joint report: Contain, Enforce, and Engage: An Integrated U.S. Strategy to Address Iran’s Nuclear and Regional Challenges. Carnegie President William J. Burns will introduce the report, and Carnegie’s Jen Psaki will moderate a discussion with some of the report’s authors. Speakers include Ariel E. Levite and Karim Sadjadpour of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, as well as Ilan Goldenberg and Elizabeth Rosenberg of the Center for a New American Security.
Since the overthrow of the regime of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in 2011, Tunisia has been on a long journey of reform and change. However, as panelists at the Atlantic Council’s “Tunisia’s Road to Reform” last Thursday pointed out, the destination does not always appear to be democratization and economic improvement, two of the revolution’s goals. The event included former Tunisian communications minister Oussama Romdhani of the Arab Weekly, Sarah Yerkes of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and Fadil Aliriza, an independent journalist based in Tunis. The discussion was moderated by Karim Mezran introduced by Fred Hof of the Atlantic Council.
Tunisia’s path to democratization began with a national dialogue and the election of a new president, and according to Romdhani will continue with the upcoming municipal elections of 2018 and the general elections of 2019. There are several obstacles to democratization, including lack of participation in elections and failure of political parties to gain respect and credibility. Tunisia’s political parties, the most significant of which are Ennahda and Nidaa Tounes, are largely disconnected from the reality faced by their constituents and are inefficient due to the continuous feuding that occurs between them. Aliriza criticized the current parties saying that they are based on personality rather than politics and that their categorization (liberal, secular, Islamist, etc) and ideologies are outdated and based on the old, pre-revolution model.
Romdhani also referred to social unrest, which he considered to be in part a result of the desire for “instant gratification” by Tunisia’s youth. This has put pressure on a government that, in his view, does not have the means to provide reform in a short period of time. Economic pressures, the instability in neighboring Libya, and lack of support from the West are all additional obstacles to democratization and reform listed.
Yerkes and Aliriza both went a step further to say that Tunisia has actually taken steps towards authoritarianism, a claim that they supported using several recent events, including a cabinet reshuffle, the postponement of municipal elections, and the adoption of a reconciliation law. It was the reconciliation law that seemed to be the most worrying to Aliriza, because it pardons civil servants accused of contributing to corruption under the old regime. This he said is a violation of the constitution and an effort to create a separate justice system for those associated with the old regime. The law is only beneficial to a minority of the population and has caused protests and unrest in the country.
Most importantly, the debate around the law is distracting the government as well as civil society organizations from focusing on reform. The government does have the means, Aliriza argued, but is misusing them. The law threatens the country’s stability, the disconnect between the regime and the people is growing, and the government’s legitimacy is under question. The government seems to be engaging in revolution-denial by repeating “old regime practices.”
Aliriza’s focus on the government’s shortcomings led Mezran to inquire what the panelists thought should be done about the flawed operations of the parliament and political parties. Aliriza responded by emphasizing the importance of employing staff for parliament in order to allow parliamentarians to connect with their constituencies, bridging the existing divide. He also proposed the creation of new parties and the greater inclusion of youth in formal politics. Yerkes agreed on the need for parliamentary staff to allow parliamentarians to travel and meet with the population.
She also thinks the time has come to move past Tunisia’s consensus model. The requirement that political parties agree with each other on policy issues may have previously provided stability, Yerkes admitted, but is currently undermining the legitimacy of each party in the eyes of its followers. The lack of debate has led to stagnation.
More defensively, Romdhani called for a change in perspective when viewing Tunisia’s government. Credibility, for example, should not be viewed as an isolated issue, but should rather in a regional context: the Tunisian people, in comparison with other countries that witnessed revolutions as part of the Arab spring, are still committed to freedom and democracy, making the Tunisian case “less worrisome” than others. Furthermore, in what can be interpreted as a response to Aliriza’s firm opposition to the reconciliation law, Romdhani said that those opposed to the law must pursue an already existing legal process and better explain their concerns instead of resorting to protests and filibusters.
While the panel revolved mostly around challenges and obstacles to reform in Tunisia, Yerkes took some time to remind the audience of promising aspects of the country’s development. These include the potential that the 2019 election brings and the role that civil society plays in holding the government accountable. Despite a large number of challenges, Tunisia remains, in the eyes of many, an example of a successful Arab revolution. As long is it continues to take steps towards fulfilling such a vision, that image will persist.
- The Trump Administration and the Middle East: What Should America Do Next? | Monday, September 25 | 12:00 – 1:30 pm | Hudson Institute | Register Here | “Donald Trump promised to do a great deal more in the Middle East than his immediate predecessors, but with much less,” Hudson Institute fellows Michael Doran and Peter Rough wrote recently in Mosaic magazine. “That is, he would achieve significantly more than Barack Obama at a much smaller sacrifice of blood and treasure than was incurred under George W. Bush. This he would accomplish by defining American interests sharply and pursuing them aggressively, not to say ruthlessly. The result would be a global restoration of American credibility and, as Trump never ceased to remind voters, renewed global respect.” Nearly nine months into his term in his office, has President Trump followed through on his promises regarding Middle East policy? Doran and Rough argue that America’s big problem in the region is still Iran. In a written response to the article, Michael O’Hanlon of the Brookings Institution contends that America is not in a zero-sum contest with the Iranians. On September 25, join us for a frank discussion on the future of U.S. Middle East policy with Doran, Rough, and O’Hanlon. Hudson Institute Senior Fellow Lee Smith will moderate the panel.
- Rethinking Political Islam | Monday, September 25 | 5:30 – 8:00 pm | Brookings Institution | Register Here | The rapid succession of events of the past four years have challenged conventional wisdom on political Islam. In “Rethinking Political Islam” (Oxford University Press, 2017), Shadi Hamid and William McCants have gathered together the leading specialists in the field to examine how Islamist movements around the world are rethinking some of their basic assumptions. The contributors, who include Islamist activists and leaders themselves, describe how groups are considering key strategic questions, including gradual versus revolutionary approaches to change; the use of tactical or situational violence; attitudes toward the state; and how ideology and politics interact. On September 25, Graeme Wood of The Atlantic and Kristin Diwan of the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington will join Hamid and McCants for a panel discussion on the book’s findings and conclusions. After the discussion, the panel will take audience questions. A reception and book signing will follow. Attendees may purchase “Rethinking Political Islam” at an exclusive 10 percent discount, with the option of pre-ordering a signed copy online
- Confronting the Next Wave of Violent Extremism | Wednesday, September 27 | 9:00 am – 4:30 pm | United States Institute of Peace | Register Here | Join the U.S. Institute of Peace and the RESOLVE Network of global experts on violent extremism for the consortium’s annual forum on Wednesday, September 27, to discuss issues such as the risks in hotspots across Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Europe.The forum will feature preeminent international scholars and experts from across the network’s 20-plus partner organizations around the world. In addition to offering opportunities to connect with leading thinkers, practitioners and policymakers involved in developing responses to violent extremism, the day of panels and roundtable discussions will highlight findings from a year-long study on the rise of violent extremism in Bangladesh and preview upcoming research on the politics of religion in the Lake Chad Basin region. Panelists will address questions including what do we know about how and when terrorists decide to enter and exit violence, and how do the politics of religion, migration, and identity factor into efforts to counter violent extremism.
- Tunisia’s Road to Reform | Thursday, September 28 | 12:00 pm | Atlantic Council | Register Here | Please join the Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East for a panel discussion on the new Tunisian government and prime minister shuffle. As part of a four-year IMF approved loan, the new government and cabinet must enact fiscal reforms to continue receiving a $2.9 billion loan aimed at strengthening job creation and economic growth. Will the so-called “war government” geared towards reform succeed in this effort? Is enough being done to address corruption and strengthen good governance? What are the major challenges and obstacles facing the Tunisian government in its effort to bring the country back to economic and political stability? The panel will address these and other concerns related to Tunisia’s ongoing transition. Panelists include Oussama Romdhani of the Arab Weekly, independent journalist Fadil Aliriza, and Sarah Yerkes of the Carnegie Endowment for Peace. The event will be introduced by Ambassador Frederic C. Hof of the Atlantic Council and moderated by Karim Mezran of the Atlantic Council.
- Iran’s Land Bridge: Countering a Growing Influence in the Middle East | Friday, September 29 | 12:00 – 1:30 pm | Hudson Institute | Register Here | The threat of an Iranian land bridge through Iraq and Syria—measured both in established influence and a physical presence—has become a reality. Iran’s goal for regional hegemony, a strategic plan more than three decades in the making, has come to fruition. With such a route in place, Iran can increase logistical and operational support to Lebanese Hezbollah and other IRGC-directed proxies. Is it possible to disrupt this route, and can it be done without provoking further conflict? On September 29, Hudson Institute will host a discussion assessing these and other elements of Iran’s strategic posture in the region. Hudson fellows Michael Pregent, Hillel Fradkin, and Lee Smith will join Ilan Berman of the American Foreign Policy Council to discuss the changing situation in the Middle East and the appropriate U.S. policy response.
Much lower I fear. While he has given a couple of half-sane, scripted speeches prepared with Chief of Staff Kelly’s approval, President Trump is still doing what he can to offend as soon as he is off the Teleprompter. Those who don’t approve of him are at this point about 60% of Americans and far higher percentages in most other countries. Russia and Israel are the exceptions. He is still launching ferocious attacks on the American media, retweeting anti-Semitic and racist tweeps, and slamming both Senate supporters and antagonists.
With August waning and an early Labor Day (September 4) looming in the US, prospects are for a difficult fall. The first item of business in the US Congress will be raising the debt ceiling and passing some sort of budget resolution. Trump has made that more difficult by insisting that the budget include money for the wall on the border he has promised the Mexicans would pay for. That’s a non-starter for the Democrats, who have some say in the Senate because 60 votes are needed on the budget issues. Tax reform, which so far means a big tax cut to businesses like Trump’s own, will have to wait. Never mind the promised trillion-dollar infrastructure program.
Trump wants the budget resolved by eliminating the filibuster and allowing bills to pass in the Senate with a simple majority. That is a proposition even more controversial than the wall, so he is publicly hounding Senate Majority leader McConnell into changing Senate rules to allow it. That’s not a way to make friends in the Senate, but so long as the Republicans control the House Trump can be sure it won’t impeach him (which has to precede sending him to the Senate for trial).
While America tries to sort out its internal political mess, the rest of the world is trying to make do without much clarity from Washington. In Asia, China is seizing the initiative on trade and finance, pushing its “belt and road” projects all the way to the Middle East and Africa. North Korea hasn’t tested a missile lately, and there seem to be talks about talks going on behind the scenes with the US, but the prospects of denuclearizing Pyongyang have dropped to zero.
In the Middle East, Syria’s President Assad is still advancing, as are the US-supported, Kurdish-led forces trying to take Raqqa from the Islamic State. The Syrian opposition is being pressed by the UN and everyone else to drop its demand that Assad step aside. Civilian casualties from American and other air attacks in the battle for Raqqa are mounting.
Defense Secretary Mattis is promising Turkey the US will help fight against Kurdish rebels inside Turkey and in Iraq, even as it supports their affiliates in Syria. That’s going to be a hard circle to square. Iraq is also making progress against the Islamic State, but Baghdad still hasn’t convinced its own Kurdistan to call off its independence referendum, scheduled for September 25 but increasingly in doubt.
Jared Kushner is plugging away at the Israel/Palestine issues, in visits to Ramallah, Cairo and Jerusalem. No one is expecting much to come of his efforts. The State Department has refused to reiterate US commitment to a two-state solution, which (as Matt Duss pointed out on Twitter) represents the single largest concession the Palestinians have made to date. Not that anyone had much doubt about which side the Trump Administration was on. We’ll presumably now be treated to the spectacle of Israel and the US proposing various confidence-building measures meant to make life and the economy more palatable for the occupied territories on the West Bank, while Jewish settlements expand and kill off any remaining hope for a two-state solution.
This is enabled in part by some Arab states coming to the conclusion that they care more about countering Iran than supporting the Palestinians. The Saudis and Emiratis seem prepared to collaborate with Israel against Iran, even if Qatar, Iraq, and Oman are headed in the opposite direction. Yemen no longer counts, since it is being obliterated in the Gulf-led war against the Houthi rebellion. Libya, Tunisia, and Morocco are likewise out of the game for now. Egypt and Jordan have made their peace with Israel and have no choice but to keep it.
Trump is increasingly marginalized from all these developments. Weakness at home leads to weakness abroad. His only major push on foreign policy lately has been the renewal and expansion of the American military push in Afghanistan. This allegedly new strategy closely resembles his predecessor’s effort to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table. Like Obama, Trump doesn’t want to be blamed for losing Afghanistan, even if it proves impossible to keep his promise to win there.
We can still sink lower: North Korea could test another missile, the Palestinians could tell Kushner where to go, Trump could renounce the Iran nuclear deal, and the country’s long recovery from the financial crisis of 2007/8 could end. But most of all: we could continue to fail to deal with a president who is unqualified, mean-spirited, incompetent, and divisive. Let’s hope Special Counsel Mueller comes up with something compelling, sooner rather than later.
More than six years after their Arab spring uprising and two national elections, Tunisians still really don’t like their own political elite, according to recently published International Republican Institute polling. None of the major political parties or labor unions get more than 28% approval. Some individual leaders do a bit better, but only President Essebsi breaks 31%. And 77% of Tunisians agree that “Politicians do not pay attention to the needs and ideas of young people.” To be fair, they aren’t viewed as paying much attention to anyone’s needs but there own.
What do Tunisians want their government to do? Above all: provide jobs, preferably government jobs. This seems to be a congenital expectation in Tunisia that relative democracy has not yet extinguished. Private sector jobs are still less sought. But how Tunisians think the economy should be improved is interesting: fighting corruption and bribery, land reform, making it easier for entrepreneurs to start businesses, and increasing infrastructure investment are among the top policy choices. The trouble is no one thinks the government is doing those things, at least partly because it doesn’t communicate well.
What does it do well? Security, according to Tunisians. They are strongly positive not only about their apolitical national army but only marginally less so about the national police and national guard. I doubt there are many countries in the region where such positive numbers–upwards of 70% or so–prevail for the security forces. More than 61% give the government “somewhat good” or “very good” marks for keeping the country safe from terrorism. That will surprise many readers who remember the 2015 attack on tourists near Sousse, but that is also the most recent major attack. Yes, you can visit Tunisia without too much concern about terrorism, though past performance is no guarantee of future results.
The trouble is this: Tunisia, the one Arab spring country that has undergone at least a partial democratic transition, is also a major source of international terrorists. IRI has helpfully also looked into the reasons for this, by conducting focus groups and interviews in Beja, a Tunisian governorate that has produced many terrorist fighters. This is what they found as contributing factors:
discrimination, socio-economic marginalization, lack of opportunities, poverty, and unemployment.
I’d put all of that under the heading of marginalization. But the key difference between those more vulnerable to radicalization (as determined by “their stated support for foreign fighters in Syria, Iraq, and Libya”) and those who are more resilient appears to be disappointed expectations, causing lack of hope:
This sentiment was linked to grievances related to negative interactions with government officials or law enforcement and poor economic conditions.
That does not however enable you to anticipate who will become a terrorist. We are talking, after all, about a very small sample, compared to the population of Tunisia, or even young males 20-35. We know that variability is high in small populations. Looking for a single profile is a mistake. There likely is none.
So how does all this help you understand what to do? The key issue here is governance. Bad governance sets unrealistic expectations and disappoints them. Good governance sets realistic expectations and demonstrably meets them. There are going to be terrorists flowing out of Tunisia so long as the government there continues to disappoint, in particular expectations for jobs and less corruption.
The situation in Tunisia is not unique. Arab governments underperformed for decades without generating anything like the number of terrorists we are suffering from today. The Arab spring raised expectations. Its defeat in Syria, Libya, and Yemen has generated hopelessness. It’s not one of Newton’s three laws, but it is a formula for spawning young people who are willing to kill others or blow themselves up. There is no substitute for improved governance if we are going to undermine terrorism.