International Conference on Advances in Economics, Social Science and Human Behaviour Study - ESHB 2014
Author(s) : AMENI JEBEL
With China conducting a very active diplomacy around the world mainly in third world countries and the West crying foul over what they term 'China Threat' in Africa and the Arab world, Tunisia is reconsidering it’s positioning between East and West. Since its independence in 1956, Tunisia made the choice to be pro-western while keeping a certain degree of independence with a doctrine of critical support set up by “the father of the Nation” President Habib Bourguiba. In order to get inde-pendence from the French colonial power, Bourguiba played the US support card while being very active in the non-aligned movement. A small country, Tunisia decided from the beginning to never antagonize anybody and have a strong and balanced foreign policy, offering even to be a fair mediator in certain con-flicts. That was the official policy of the country until after the Revolution of January 2011. Because Tunisia is first and fore-most a North African and Mediterranean country, 80% of its trade was with Europe. But after the elections of October 2011 and the rise of the Islamist Ennahda party to power, the new post-revolution government tried to shift its alliances, mainly based on ideological grounds, thinking that looking east towards oil rich Arab Gulf countries and beyond will usher a new era of prosperity while moving away from the West. But this has put Tunisia's diplomacy to difficult tests every step of the way in its quest to make new international alliances while not antagonizing old partners. It was no easy task since the infa-mous Arab Spring added a new twist to Tunisia's foreign rela-tions, from the economic crisis to the elections to the constant protests and sit-ins, presenting a dilemma for many countries that dealt with Tunisia, in addition to the turmoil in neighboring Libya.