“Non-religious individuals and groups ignited and then brought into being the Tunisian revolution. Mohamed Elbouazizi, who was not a religious man and whose act of self-immolation was condemned by many religious authorities, is the iconic figure of the Tunisian uprising that started the Arab Spring. But when the dust settled and the first elections were held across Tunisia, Islamists and their allies took the biggest share of the votes – not the likes of Elbouazizi. Although more than 58% of the voters did not endorse Ennahda, leaders of the Islamist party have acted as if they had an absolute public mandate to govern. Using the institution of the Constituency Assembly, the leaders of Ennahda cobbled together a coalition government headed by a former political prisoner and a historical figure of the Islamist movement. Members of Ennahda controlled the main ministries, including foreign affairs and interior. But the first decisions of the government have shown the speed with which religious idealism has given way to practical realism. One such decision is Prime Minister Hammadi Jebali’s first state visit to Saudi Arabia: a good example of decisive, even cynical, realism. Saudi Arabia is a wealthy clan-ruled Arab state in the Gulf region…………..”
It looks like the visit of Tunisian leader was a formality, to seal the deal. Tunisia is a resource poorer Arab state, meaning it has no petroleum. It has had some Gulf GCC investments, especially in the tourism industry. Tunisia also has had a certain culture and a cosmopolitan atmosphere that is almost certain to be finished now, damaging the tourist industry. From now on it may be quasi-Salafi chic. This visit is to tell the Saudi princes that Tunisia’s revolution is done, that it is open again for business.
To show that he is serious, Tunisia’s regime is making the correct Saudi-style noises about Syria and it is silent about Bahrain and Yemen (very Saudi-style and Western-style). Any day now I expect the Islamist regime in Tunis to issue a Qaddafi-like fatwa banning French in public places, replacing it with short Salafi Gulf dishdashas (Saudi thobes) and the Saudi red shmagh ghutra. (Also encouraging Saudi style stag French-ing among the elites).
Who knows, once Bin Ali is done with his Wahhabi re-education in the Saudi Gulag, once all his secular misconceptions have been cleansed by the royal Salafi muftis, they may rehire him as an adviser in Tunis.