At the end of my tour as ambassador to Tunisia in July 2012, there was significant progress to report and many opportunities to present in my farewell cable. For one, after widespread popular protests, later recognized as the start of the Arab Spring, had forced President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali into exile in January 2011, Tunisia held its first free and fair elections in October of that year.
Yet my farewell cable also flagged a growing security concern: The rise of violent Salafism (a puritanical branch of Sunni Islam) and the new government’s apparent inability or unwillingness to address it posed a rising threat to Tunisia and the United States.
The above excerpt was originally published in The Foreign Service Journal.
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