I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet was announced as the recipient of the 2015 Nobel Peace Prize.
There was talk that the award would be given to German Chancellor Angela Merkel for her response to the Syrian refugee crisis or the tandem of Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif for the atrocious Iran nuclear deal or even that doofus Edward Snowden.
But I think the Nobel committee made a good selection. Although most people associate Egypt with the Arab Spring, it actually originated in Tunisia and would force its long time ruler Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali into exile in January 2011. However, I was concerned about Tunisia’s fate when Islamist leader Rachid Ghannouchi returned from two decades exile in London. It reminded me of when Ruhollah Khomeini returned to Iran from exile in France.
Fortunately, this has turned out not to be the case. Although Ghannouchi’s Ennahda Movement won the largest number of the seats in the 2011 parliamentary elections, they would step down in 2014 to allow a caretaker government to draft a new constitution followed by new elections. If not for the Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet, there is no way the Islamists would have ceded power. Of course, it is entirely possible that Ennahda might not like the outcome of the constitution and elections and take power by force. But for the moment, things are looking up in Tunisia.
With that said, I believe the Nobel Committee’s selections for the Peace Prize have mostly been much better since they selected President Obama in 2009 just for being Barack Obama. Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo, Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Malala Yousafzai have been named recipients or co-recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize since 2009. OK, picking the EU in 2012 was a bit of a dud. As I put it at the time, “Awarding the Nobel Peace Prize to the EU would be much like awarding it to the Roman Empire in the midst of its fall.”
Tunisia, on the other hand, has a chance to be a model of democracy in the Muslim world and the Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet deserves recognition on a global scale for its efforts.