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Unemployed protestors take to the streets, Tunis, Tunisia, Jan. 22, 2016 (AP photo by Riadh Dridi).

Exclusion and Despair Make Tunisia’s Border Regions a Powder Keg

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Tunisia is often and rightly lauded for the progress it has made since the popular uprising that toppled longtime strongman Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali in January 2011. But social inequality and regional asymmetries are undermining Tunisia’s democratic transition and deepening the chasm between a restless and rebellious periphery and an eastern Mediterranean coast that fears and misunderstands the bitter resentment of border communities.

These unaddressed challenges are also making it harder to secure the country from internal upheaval and terrorism. Aggrieved youths increasingly express their anger in fiery protests and street violence. This radical projection of grievances risks feeding a dangerous spiral of violent extremism. Already, thousands of disgruntled young Tunisians from the hinterlands have joined the so-called Islamic State in Syria and Libya, making Tunisia one of the largest sources of recruits for the group. ...

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