Tunisia’s National Intelligence: Why “Rogue Elephants” Fail to Reform - Center for Contemporary Arab Studies | Georgetown University
Image of the cover of the book Tunisia's National Intelligence: Why "Rogue Elephants" Fail to Reform

Noureddine Jebnoun

New Academia Publishing, 2017

Drawing on extensive fieldwork and original data, Noureddine Jebnoun examines the political and security evolution of Tunisia’s national intelligence in the post-independence era. It investigates the sophistication of the intelligence complex under Bin ʿAlī, and its central role in entrenching his authoritarian rule. The increased politicization of intelligence services contributed to the consolidation of power and the abuse of Tunisian citizens while the wide-range of illegal activities by Tunisia’s intelligence services contributed to the establishment of a police security state. However, through their opacity, repression, and lack of professionalism, these services served to weaken the state. The post-uprising era created a dilemma for intelligence organs in adjusting to the new socio-political context. The absence of an appropriate political vision for the role of intelligence within a nascent democracy, insecurity in the country, and the legacy of authoritarianism are hindering any effort at reform. The transition from state-centric security to a human-security approach is likely a major impediment to such reform. Rather than reform that entails democratic control and oversight of the intelligence sector, the country’s secret apparatus experienced a mending process seeking mainly to improve its operational capabilities driven by the discourse of technicalities.