Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Tunisian Terror: Déjà Vu?

Bus explosion in Tunis on November 24, 2015. Photo courtesy of Breaking News.
A bomb rocked the city of Tunis today. This is the 3rd major attack this year in the country; the first was the March attack at the Bardo Museum in Tunis, the second was the June attack at the Imperial Marhaba Hotel in Sousse. While other attacks have occurred throughout this year and beforehand, the visibility of these 3 large attacks in the capital and major tourist destinations have made them the most discussed.

The explosion was caused by a bomber on the bus, and targeted the president's security guard. This makes it different than the other major attacks this year, both of which were mainly targeted at tourists. Both of these prior attacks were also claimed by the Islamic State (IS). IS's strategy in Tunisia thus far has been to attack tourists, and therefore the tourism industry, a large portion of the Tunisian economy. This is especially pertinent since Tunisia is seen as a beacon of secularism in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, and therefore is a major target for IS.

The bus attack is more similar to other, smaller attacks in the west of Tunisia. In the Mount Chaambi area, the jihadi group Okba Ibn Nafi Brigade has a basis of operations. The outstanding majority of their attacks are carried out upon the armed forces and police in the area. However, lately the Tunisian government has been targeting them; working to try and eliminate them despite the group's remote hiding places in the mountains. Since they feel threatened due to government action, Okba Ibn Nafi Brigade might be striking back at the capital as revenge.

Tunisia has declared a 30-day state of emergency after this latest attack. A curfew was placed on the capital Tunis until Wednesday morning. Such actions are the typical reaction of the Tunisian government to large attacks. The government and Tunisian society have proven resilient- the effects of the Arab Spring have proven more permanent there: nothing that these attacks can change.

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