Arab Spring Success Story Tunisia Has NATO to Thank for Recent Woes

Largely Successful Revolution Threatened by Attacks From Libya

In December 2010 and into early January, the Arab Spring began in the small Mediterranean nation of Tunisia. Public protests led to violent government crackdowns, but before long, dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was forced into exile, and free elections were held.

It’s the Arab Spring’s one really success story, what with Egypt’s revolution being rolled back in two years by a military coup and Yemen’s regime change just leading to another US-backed military dictator being installed. It’s also being talked of as being in major jeopardy after a high-profile ISIS attack in the capital city of Tunis.

So far Tunisians seem to be trying to keep the situation under relative control, but the nation’s heavy dependence on tourism, and the fact that the attack targeted tourists could seriously threaten their already shaky economy to provoke draconian effects by the government.

If the Arab Spring’s big success story was to indeed collapse, the real culprit is NATO, whose insinuation of itself into one of the Arab Spring’s biggest disasters, neighboring Libya, played a major role in turning that huge nation into a lawless trainwreck full of jihadist factions, including the one responsible for attacking the Tunis museum.

Public protests against Libya’s dictator, Moammar Gadhafi, led to a crackdown and a civil war. NATO quickly joined the war against Gadhafi, but in favor of no one in particular, leading to a regime change to a powerless, but nominally NATO-allied, new government, which has spent the ensuing years losing virtually the entire country to rival militias.

The “ISIS” group that attacked Tunis is not the same ISIS from Syria, but rather a smaller Islamist faction that pledged allegiance to the Syria group, and adopted their name for the sake of recruitment.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.