Rachid al-Ghannouchi, leader of the Islamist Ennahda movement, speaks during a news conference in Tunis, August 15, 2013.
Zoubeir Souissi / Courtesy Reuters

The sudden collapse in 2011 of President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali’s regime in Tunisia, one of the most robust security states in the Arab world, inspired protests from Egypt to Yemen. Some of these movements managed to topple entrenched autocratic rulers; others did not. Although Tunisia has its problems, it is safe to say that the country is faring better today than most of its fellow Arab Spring nations. As interviews with senior government officials, heads of political parties, representatives of civil society organizations, academics and opinion leaders, and former political prisoners make clear, the Tunisian approach has distinguished itself in two areas: the sound management of its transition process and its rational, systematic approach. As countries throughout the region struggle to establish new social contracts, they should keep in mind Tunisia’s lessons.

The way Tunisia handled its most recent political crisis is characteristic: On July 25, a Salafi extremist

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  • IBRAHIM SHARQIEH is a Foreign Policy Fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Doha Center and an Adjunct Professor at Georgetown University in Qatar. Follow him @sharqieh.
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