Nobel Peace Prize for Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet. A message for the region?

National Dialogue Quartet in Tunisia wins Nobel Peace Prize. It might been seen as a signal how things should work for the region that Tunisia is probably not perfect, but still better off than the others. Would you agree, or not, could this Nobel Peace Prize has any impact in the region? Read few comments.

Fatima El-Issawi, Assistant Professorial Research Fellow, Middle East Centre, London School of Economics and Political Science

It is a very important message that the model of a peaceful political transition can work in the region. It will definitely send a wind of hope to the region especially with the tragic situation in Syria as a result of the inability of the international community to broker a political deal and to bring criminals, including the Bashar regime, to account. It is important that that Nobel Prize was given to civil society groups as the dynamism on the Tunisian society was the only effective tool to protect the transition from falling into autocracy or violence.

Hamza Meddeb, Nonresident Scholar, Carnegie Middle East Center

This Nobel Peace Prize is a recognition of the role of Tunisia’s National dialogue in mediation and conflict resolution. The quartet played an important role in organizing and managing this National dialogue in order to protect the democratic transition and to overcome the cleavages between the secularists and islamists, the deterioration of security situation after multiple assassination targeting political leaders and soldiers and an instable regional environment. I think the importance of a national mediator or a coalition of national mediators committed to peace and to democracy could inspire other countries in the MENA region. It goes without saying that things are far from being perfect in Tunisia and that the compromise is still fragile and needs to be consolidated. However I think the Tunisian experience shows that an inclusive though fragile compromise is important and could avoid bloody and costly conflict that would destroy the country, a situation that Libya, Yemen and Syria are experiencing.

Edwin BakkerProfessor, Director Centre for Terrorism & Counter Terrorism, Leiden University

The decision to give this Nobel Peace Prize to this Tunisian group might be a surprise to many. I think it is a good move by the committee to also show that smaller and relatively unknown groups that aim to prevent conflict can win this price. Hopefully it will be regarded as support to all those smaller groups that work on peace, in Tunisia and elsewhere in the region. It is also a wise decision of the committee to put the spotlight on Tunisia. The so-called Arab Spring is now often referred to as the start of the Arab Winter with a lot of conflicts raging in the Arab world – from Yemen to Syria and from Libya to Iraq. But small Tunisia has managed to keep the peace even when confronted with terrorist violence and political tensions. It is good to remind the world that even under difficult conditions, peace is possible and that relatively small players can play an important role in achieving that.

Jonathan HillReader in Postcolonialism and the Maghreb, King’s College London

I certainly think the prize will help reinforce the reforms that have been introduced and political direction that has been taken in Tunisia. This is the first Nobel Prize won by Tunisians and will generate a great deal of pride. I also think it will be seen – correctly – as evidence of the West’s continued interest in the country and what is happening there. This is important for Europe and North America since the Arab Spring caught them by surprise, their responses to the protests were a little muddled and belated, and they had backed Ben Ali and the region’s other long serving and authoritarian leaders for many years. And in helping Tunisia, in strengthening democracy there the prize will (hopefully) help maintain the country as a politically liberal bastion in an otherwise fairly authoritarian and disappointing region. But beyond that, I’m not sure it will have much effect. Certainly I don’t think it will stop the violence in Syria, Iraq, Libya or Yemen. It might trigger some more protests, reinvigorate some of the groups and forces that took to the streets before. But then the situation is different today and governments and regimes are better prepared. Moreover, given everything that has happened, I think in many instances Western governments have made their accommodations with whoever is in power in part through fear of what could happen and who could replace them.

Andrea TetiDirector, Centre for Global Security & Governance, University of Aberdeen

I don’t think the Nobel prize in itself will have much effect, but I do think it’s a potentially important signal of attention by the international community that the transition in Tunisia is valued. The broader question is to make sure that Western governments in particular are active and effective in their support of the transition, particularly given the potentially destabilising effects of several regional factors, from the Libyan quagmire to the support given by Gulf governments to ultra-conservative forces opposed to a transition to democracy.

Wayne White, Scholar, Middle East InstitutePolicy Expert, Washington’s Middle East Policy Council

Because Tunisia’s political culture is considerably different & its population almost entirely undivided in sectarian, ethnic & tribal terms, I do not believe this Tunisian Nobel Prize award will have much effect at all on the region beyond.

Andrew LebovichVisiting Fellow, European Council on Foreign Relations

Certainly many in the region see the Nobel Prize award as inspirational and recognition for the courage of the Tunisian example, but it can only go so far in the face of entrenched interests and complex political problems throughout North Africa.

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