Case 339 - Tunisia and the Start of the Arab Spring
This case study, written by the US ambassador to Tunisia from 2009-2012, examines the roots of the Arab Spring, how and why it unfolded in Tunisia, and the US role as the Ben Ali government collapsed. It offers an overview of Tunisian history and society, including a close look at the two men who had led Tunisia after the country’s independence in 1956, and what their regimes had and had not achieved. The case study examines pivotal events leading up to the revolution of 2010-2011, underscoring the complexity and multiplicity of their causal factors, and offers a detailed look at the diplomacy behind the US support for the democratic transition. There is also a broader discussion of the Arab Spring as a revolutionary movement, and its longer-term impact on other Arab societies and on US interests in North Africa and the Middle East.