The Sousse attack is not an attack on Tunisia alone

Friday 03/07/2015

The June 26th attack in Sousse, Tunisia, which killed 38 people and wounded dozens more, will surely have a tremendous effect on Tunisia’s tourism economy. But the attack should not be seen as an attack on Tunisia alone.
Rather, this most recent attack and the shootings three months ago at Tunisia’s Bardo National Museum are assaults on the West and would probably have been directed at the United States as a target, if the perpetrator had the ability to have done so.
These attacks come on top of Islamic State (ISIS) destruction of priceless antiquities in Iraq and Syria. Whether the attacks are by ISIS or other groups or individu­als who share their motivation, they are meant to stamp out any vestige of Western culture and serve as an ominous warning of the determination of the Islamist extremists to see Western influence stopped.
Tunisia has succeeded so far in its path to democracy and establishing a working democracy in the small North African country, hitherto relatively free from violence, was achieved in a relatively short time.
Tunisia is a fitting example of what the West needs more of: countries in the Mediterranean region that can achieve democ­racy rather than turn to violent chaos as in the case of Libya, Syria and Iraq.
Tourism is a very important bridge in protecting the free world’s ability to share experi­ences and Western values. When terrorists can stifle such bridges, we all will pay a heavy price and give a victory to a very dangerous element.
The United States and Europe have pledged support to Tunisia and have been providing assis­tance but much more has to be done. US President Barack Obama has cited Tunisia numerous times in recognition of its achieve­ments, against tremendous odds, of becoming a true democracy. It is important that Obama ensure that these are not just congratula­tory words, but are supported by financial and security support for Tunisia.
Tunisia cannot bear alone the sacrifices and the risks its citizens have made to bring democracy to their country.
If Tunisia’s penalty for having achieved a Western-type, demo­cratic political system and providing Western vacationers with an open-minded country that welcomes some 6 million Europeans and Americans is to become yet another target for jihadists, then the West will have forsaken the one country in an otherwise troubled neighbour­hood that has had the backbone to implement a Western form of democracy despite all the risks involved.