Issued by CEMO Center - Paris
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Will Ghannouchi’s arrest be in the interest of the Tunisian Brotherhood?

Sunday 30/April/2023 - 07:13 PM
The Reference
Nora Bandari


The Tunisian security forces arrest of the leader of the Brotherhood’s Ennahda Movement, Rached Ghannouchi, on charges of plotting against internal state security came as a severe blow to the group, which denounced the decision to arrest its leader and demanded his immediate release.

Ghannouchi was put on trial in July 2022 on charges related to money laundering, obtaining foreign funds, helping young people to travel to fight in Syria, and other issues related to the country's security, which resulted in the judiciary issuing a decision banning Ghannouchi's travel within the framework of investigations related to the file of political assassinations that took place in 2013, in which members of the Brotherhood movement are accused.

The arrest of Ghannouchi came this time after a video clip was leaked of a conversation that brought him together with leaders of the National Salvation Front opposing the regime, in which the head of the Tunisian Brotherhood movement threatened to ignite a civil war if the political Islamist currents were expelled from the country, saying, “Imagining Tunisia without this or that party, Tunisia without Ennahda, Tunisia without political Islam is a project of civil war.”

After Ghannouchi’s arrest, questions abounded about the fate of the Brotherhood movement in the coming period and who would lead it. Some sources revealed to the media that the movement assigned a member of the Ennahdha Shura Council and its deputy leader, Mundhir Al-Wanisi, to assume the duties of interim leader, indicating that Ennahda will officially announce this decision during the coming period, in addition to announcing the launch of a mini-office of leadership that includes a number of prominent leaders to overcome the crises in the movement.


Impact of Ghannouchi's imprisonment

Regarding the impact of Ghannouchi’s imprisonment on the Brotherhood movement, Hesham El-Naggar, a researcher specializing in the affairs of Islamist groups, explained that this will have a significant impact, especially since Ghannouchi is a leading and influential figure within the Brotherhood, not only at the local Tunisian level, but also within the scope of the international organization, having played a main role in the events of the past decade and in enabling the Tunisian Brotherhood to gain power by using his pragmatism, manipulative rhetoric, hidden alliances with the takfirist wings, and the activation of the secret apparatus.

Naggar pointed out in a special statement to the Reference that it is possible that there will be a negative impact of the movement losing an important and active figure of Ghannouchi’s stature, but on the other hand, it is likely that the absence, neutralization, and exclusion of the Ennahda leader from the scene will be a positive factor for the movement and the Brotherhood, given that his presence and role represented an impediment to the organization’s progress, which could therefore serve to correct its mistakes and to renew blood in its leadership. Therefore, Ghannouchi’s departure from the scene allows the Brotherhood, at least in Tunisia, to remake themselves in isolation from the disasters he caused and to escalate new leaders with a different discourse, but they will not succeed in that unless they are well aware of the size of the changes in the scene and the extent to which the level of popular anger has reached against the political Islamist current and the need to change its discourse, practices and old alliances.