European Council on Foreign Relations

Pushing for pluralism in Tunisia

Ennahda MPs at the Tunisian Constituent Assembly. CC Moumou82/ Flickr

This article was originally published in Muftah.

After weeks of deadlock over a new electoral law and continued disagreement over the electoral calendar, Tunisia’s political class is gearing up for legislative and presidential elections that will be held this October and November, respectively. During the constitution-drafting process over the last two years, ideological tension stifled consensus. And while the National Constituent Assembly (NCA) approved a much-lauded constitution this past January, the transition’s volatile three years have left Tunisia with a fragmented political blueprint.

However, as politicians prepare for the upcoming electoral contest, partisanship in Tunisia hardly seems to have changed since first emerging after the fall of Zine el Abidine Ben Ali in early 2011. Small parties from

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ECFR wins Prospect UK International Affairs Think Tank of the Year award

The European Council on Foreign Relations is proud and pleased to announce that it has been selected as 2014's UK international affairs think tank of the year by Prospect Magazine

ECFR was complimented by the judges for its "excellent work on Russia and Ukraine." One judge commented that "the organisation seemed to be looking in the right direction even before trouble started in Ukraine, and its response to the crisis has been exemplary. Its identification of a Russian 'pivot' away from the west and towards Asia was an especially astute observation, codified in a series of essays by Russian experts." The judges also noted that ECFR "was quick to recognise the extent of the threat posed by civil war in Syria, and identified the potential for that war to spread to neighbouring countries."  

Prospect’s editor, Bronwen Maddox headed the jury, which

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Summer reading recommendations from ECFR staff

Anyone interested in the future of the European Union should read Wolfgang Streeck’s book Buying Time: The Delayed Crisis of Democratic Capitalism, which was much discussed in Germany when it was originally published in 2013 and has just come out in English. Streeck describes the financial crisis that began in the autumn of 2008 as merely the most recent stage in a longer crisis in democratic capitalism that goes back to the end of the post-war settlement in the 1970s. For Streeck, the paradigmatic case in the latest phase of this counter-revolution by capital is the EU, which he describes as a kind of Hayekian Utopia in which liberalised capital is immunising itself from democratic control.

The Embassy of Cambodia is a wonderful little short story about immigrants in north-west London, where the eponymous embassy is bizarrely located and where I (and the author) live – perfect

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Netanyahu misjudges the risks of his Gaza strategy

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a news conference at the Defense ministry in the Israeli coastal city of Tel Aviv on 11 July 2014. © EPA European Pressphoto Agency B.V. / Alamy

Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, has a Gaza problem but it is not what you might think. The siren alarms sounding in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Haifa with each new salvo of rockets fired from Gaza terrify and disrupt. However, the rockets have been managed by Israel’s missile defence system. Since launching its offensive, Israel has thankfully suffered no casualties. Losses will remain low as long as there is no ground offensive.

In military terms, Israel’s supremacy is guaranteed as much in this round of fighting as in the winter of 2008-09 and November 2012. It has one of the world’s most sophisticated armies, by comparison with which the capacity of Hamas-controlled

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How EU would lift Iran sanctions after nuclear deal

EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Catherine Ashton, and Vice President of the EC at the latest round of the E3+3 nuclear talks in Vienna, July 2014. CC EEAS / Flickr

One week into the marathon talks underway in Vienna between the the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany (P5+1) and Iran, speculation has started to emerge as to what a comprehensive agreement on the long-outstanding nuclear issue would entail in terms of obligations and concessions for Tehran, with the issue of sanctions being one of the sticking points in the negotiations.

In the past days, the two sides seem to have agreed that, in exchange for verifiable curbs on the Iranian nuclear program, phased, comprehensive sanctions relief would be part of a long-term agreement. The deal would progressively unwind the complex and multilayered legislation imposed

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