UAE threatens to destabilise Tunisia

United Arab Emirates Foreign Minister, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan waits as US Secretary of State John Kerry (R) and a member of diplomatic security tie their shoes laces after touring the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi on November 23, 2015. Kerry is in Abu Dhabi to meet his Emirati counterparts on efforts to build a Syrian opposition coalition to lead peace talks with the Damascus regime. AFP PHOTO / POOL / JACQUELYN MARTIN / AFP / POOL / JACQUELYN MARTIN

The United Arab Emirates has threatened to destabilise Tunisia after the country’s leadership turns out not to serve the interests of Abu Dhabi, a senior Tunisian source is telling the Middle East Eye.

Algerian officials warned their Tunisian counterparts in early November about an Emirati plan to interfere in their country, said revealed the source, on the condition of anonymity.

“The Algerian state has given an unambiguous warning that the UAE seeks to interfere with Tunisian security,” the source said.

“They [the Algerians] were very unambiguous and said that they [the UAE] may try to destabilise Tunisia as it is at the moment.”

The Tunisian source said the message was communicated to them by a “source close to the palace” in Algeria.

The Tunisian source explained that Emirati officials had approached Algeria believing the two autocratic countries shared an interest in managing Tunisia’s ongoing development into a democratic state, following the overthrow of leader Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in 2011. However, after Algeria’s long-time intelligence chief was recently replaced, policy priorities have shifted in Algiers, writes Middle East Eye. Algeria is now focused on securing its borders, particularly with Libya, where militancy has grown and the Islamic State (IS) group emerged amid an ongoing civil war that has left the country without a functioning central government.

Seventeen tourists and two Tunisians were killed in March when gunmen attacked the Bardo museum near parliament in Tunis. In June, 38 tourists were killed when gunmen attacked the beach resort of Sousse on Tunisia’s Mediterranean coastline, which led to President Beji Caid Essebsi warning that the country faced collapse.

Since Algeria warned Tunisia of the potential Emirati interference on 9 November, there has been another attack in the Tunisian capital. On 24 November 14 people were killed when a suicide bomber detonated on a bus in central Tunis.

“The UAE will continue pursuing destabilising methods because it believes it is untouchable – they have the money to project power without fear because everyone, including Europe, is dependent on their cash.”