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Tunisia ex-leader Marzouki says UAE 'destabilised' country post-revolution

Marzouki narrowly lost re-election in 2014 to anti-Islamist current leader Beji Caid Essebsi [Getty]

Date of publication: 22 January, 2019

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Tunisia's first post-revolution president has accused the United Arab Emirates of attempting to lead a "counter-revolution" in the North African country.
Tunisia's first post-revolution president has accused the United Arab Emirates of attempting a counter-revolution in the North African country.

Moncef Marzouki lashed out at the energy-rich Gulf state during a lengthy interview with local channel Hannibal TV aired on Monday.

Marzouki said that during his three-year tenure in power the UAE was behind a conspiracy to destabilise the moderate Islamist government he headed between 2011 and 2014.

"What we couldn't confront was an external factor. We felt that there was a conspiracy to destabilise Tunisia," Marzouki said.

"The mastermind behind this was the Emiratis. I told the Americans and their Arab friends to step in to stop [the UAE] threatening our national security - but nothing was done,"

"I had evidence that Emirati money was everywhere like it is now in Libya and Yemen," he added.

Marzouki, who oversaw Tunisia's troubled transition to democracy following the 2011 uprising, has often accused the UAE and close ally Saudi Arabia of seeking to undermine the goals of the Arab Spring movements.

Regional analyst Sam Hamad told The New Arab that Marzouki's accusations are in line with the UAE's commitment to ending democracy in the Arab world.

"Though it likes to position itself to western audiences as some kind of progressive force intent on countering 'Islamism' and 'Islamic extremism', we know that the main targets of its counter-revolutionary agenda are democratic Islamists, such as the Muslim Brotherhood," Hamad said.

"It fears the Muslim Brotherhood and its message of peaceful revolution and democratic revolution because it might appeal to large sections of the populace of the UAE and Saudi Arabia and in the future it might find itself facing its own insurrection," he added.

In media comments last week Marzouki said that the UAE "funded domestic terrorism" and led a smear campaign against his government.

"It is clear that there is a geopolitical decision to see the Arab Spring fail," he was quoted as saying.

Marzouki, 73, is a former dissident who was forced into exile in France during the rule of former Tunisian dictator Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali.

He narrowly lost re-election in 2014 to anti-Islamist current leader Beji Caid Essebsi.

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