Dr. Jebril El-Abidi
Libyan writer and researcher

Ennahda and the Foreign Contracts Scandal

The Ennahda scandal was recently exposed; they had contracted American lobbying firms in an effort to save what remains of their rubble and salvage the attempts to breathe life into the party by applying internal and external pressure…Per the US Department of Justice, which mandates that companies announce the contracts they have agreed to, the Ennahda party signed a contract with the American firm to pressure President Kais Saied.

Ennahda tried, by contracting the lobbying firm, to reach influential US players and get the media to lament and decry “Ennahda’s victimhood.” This is the farcical and repetitive scene that plays out at every brotherhood failure and fall.

The firm involved in the Ennahda scandal wrote on one of its pages: “The beneficiary of the services (Ennahda) is based in Tunisia.” It was signed only days after President Saied issued his decisions and Ennahda party leader Rached Ghannouchi realized that he has no popular supporters who can be relied on to take to the squares, in the aftermath of the failure of the first attempt to mobilize around parliament to storm it and allow to hold sessions.

The lobbying scandal, despite Ennahda’s attempts at denial, leaves us with legitimate questions about how it is linked to the propaganda piece Ghannouchi wrote for the New York Times after the Tunisian parliament was suspended in what had been a constitutional decision. In addition, the contract scandal will exacerbate its major predicaments amid accusations that its 2019 campaign had been funded by foreign actors.

Attempts at polishing Ennahda’s image through lobbying and propaganda contracts remind us of the time of the Muslim Brotherhood’s illegitimate government in Libya in 2014, when it became a “rescue” government after paying 17 million dollars for American firms’ propaganda and lobbying services, the aim of which is its image around the world, affirming that the Muslim Brotherhood uses the same tools when it drowns in the swamp of its corruption and crimes.

Ennahda’s failure to mobilize support pushed it into claiming to be trying to promote “calm” and engage in “dialogue” with the president, whose powers Ghannouchi has tried to undermine several times through the parliament he heads, using “parallel diplomacy,” which does not exist in Tunisian politics or the country’s constitution.

The failure to mobilize pushed Ennahda’s media to contract foreign firms, trying to derive strength and garner influence on global public opinion through them. The Ennahda movement tried to present President Saied’s decisions as a coup against democracy and the constitution, disregarding the fact that the Tunisian president’s decisions are nothing but an exact implementation of article 80 of the Tunisian constitution, which Ennahda had been involved in drafting. Ennahda now stands isolated and alone after it became clear that no one is grieving for the party, even amid what it had thought to be its victory. They were incapable of mobilizing a few dozen to replicate, and Egypt’s “Rabaa” imagery after Ghannouchi and the other leaders asked them to protest. Indeed, one of them even demanded that Ennahda loyalists take to the streets armed, but these calls were left unheeded.

The Muslim Brotherhood’s attempts at pushing the lie of its victimhood, which it had previously fooled people with, have been exposed and are unconvincing to many. In fact, it has become the subject of ridicule, especially with the role of its global organization shrinking; indeed, those who had created and used it in the past have to see it as a nuisance.

Successive crises have and continue to surround Ghannouchi and his movement after they had been isolated at the political and popular levels. Actually, the masses are demanding that the judiciary prosecute Ennahda, which is accused of corruption.

The emptiness of the claims of trying to create clam was exposed by Ghannouchi’s advisor, who said: “(Ennahda’s) efforts at calming things are not conclusive, and it is still monitoring the situation in order to make its final stance… and it could call for large marches.” These statements reflect the party’s disarray and collapse, as well as its delusions of being capable of replicating the scenes witnessed in “Rabaa,” which affirms that it is not politically realistic. It has not realized that it cannot get back up from this fall and that it won’t make a comeback even if it solicits the services of the world’s biggest lobbying companies.