Prominent Tunisian politician Moncef Marzouki blames the UAE for interfering in Tunisian politics and trying to topple the democratically elected Tunisian government.
Former Tunisian president Moncef Marzouki accused the United Arab Emirates of attempting to thwart the Tunisian revolution in an interview published in Algerian newspaper Al-Khobar on Monday.
“I never imagined that a country like the UAE has animosity for us to this degree. They set terrorism upon Tunis, and it is funded terrorism. They unleashed corrupt media on us, to make the Arab Spring experiment fail,” Marzouki was quoted as saying.
Relations between Tunisia and the UAE saw a significant cooling after the 2011 revolution, which led to the ousting of long-time autocrat Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, who had strong ties with the Gulf kingdom.
Marzouki claimed the Saudi-UAE bloc tried to destroy the Tunisian revolution, which marked the beginning of the so-called Arab Spring, through "terrorism, corrupt media and dirty money".
“It is clear that there is a geopolitical design to see the Arab Spring fail, the very Arab spring that was undermined by sectarian strife and wars in Libya, Syria and Yemen; and through a military coup in Egypt,” Marzouki was quoted as saying.
The prominent Tunisian politician has always been critical of the regimes in the Middle East. He urged the Russians and Iranians to withdraw their support from the Assad regime in Syria and repeatedly demanded Assad leave power to prevent more bloodshed.
He also stands against the Abdel Fattah el Sisi regime in Egypt, following the 2013 military coup which ousted the country’s first democratically-elected president Mohamed Morsi.
Referring to the Sisi regime last September, Mazrouki said: “I will remain opposed to the policies of mass executions, overcrowded prisons, poverty, oppression, and corruption.”
Marzouki also stated: “Tunisia has been targeted from multiple fronts, given that it is the launching pad of the Arab revolutions that gave rise to the Arab Spring and put fear into these regimes. This brought it woes.”
He added: "This has caused us a setback, but it has not been able to completely defeat the Tunisian experience. I am convinced that we will succeed in Tunisia because the Tunisian people have full awareness of its achievements.”
The bitter relations between the two countries worsened when Ennahda, a party which represents what is known as the Islamic democratic movement, gained a significant foothold in post-revolution Tunisia, as the UAE identifies the party as “Islamist”.
Tunisia is governed by a power-sharing agreement with Ennahda and the secular Nidaa Tounes party, however the UAE is still uncomfortable with the rise of the party.
More recently, relations were further complicated when Tunisia decided to stay neutral and take a balanced approach to the blockade that has been imposed by the Saudi-UAE bloc on Qatar.