Tunisia – Plan of Attack (2011-01-27)

There are 3 ways you can win this war:

1. Military science – ask the Turks or some other coalition to rock up with aircraft – even if the entire Tunisian military is united it cannot defeat the Turks alone, nevermind a coalition. And in reality, the Tunisian military is not united – probably a majority are waiting for an opportunity to defect and join the protesters. But they will reserve that defection until the order comes through to attack and they're forced to reveal their hand. They will also defect as soon as they have air cover, since they are professional soldiers and they know what allied air cover means.

2. Do nothing and hope that the old regime lives up to its promise to hold free and fair elections in 6 months. You may or may not have more success than Chamberlain had. You will find out in 6 months time when the internal security forces have complete control of the streets again like they have had for the last 23 years (with the military watching on).

3. Get the security forces to change sides right now. So far there have only been isolated and temporary “defections”. To win this you need them to seriously get their tanks fired up and turn them the other way. This has happened in the past, most noticably the Russian tanks sent to defeat Yeltsin turned around.

With regards to plan 1, I would suggest that you try to convince Ammar that this is a glorified constitutional amendment. Say that the constitution as originally written was not expected to cope with this situation, so it needs an emergency amendment to calm the protesters. In a previous missive I suggested the text required. This may sufficiently fit in with his “Paradigm A” brain and he will accede to it. You can even negotiate with him which country's should be asked for help. Basically you're pretty safe with any democracy. No country wants to have a bad reputation, most of all democracies.

With regards to plan 2, try to increase the media exposure and debate on the actions of the ministers. Even according to the ministers, you have freedom of speech. As such, use it to the fullest. Start newspapers and point out every single thing they do that you don't like to try to keep pressure on them. See if you can keep Tunisia in the news with scandals of some sort that Al Jazeera etc (or whatever they watch) can pick up on and sensationalize. This is out of my field of expertise but speak to some media types how to keep the politicians under pressure. If every single day they are being scrutinized and Slim is tweeting what they're up to, they may not have any latitude to seize power. Ask lots of questions.

With regards to plan 3, I suggest a two-pronged attack. First send mothers and grandmothers to go and speak to the security forces, offer them sweets and ask them what they are doing fighting? Didn't their mothers teach them to be good boys? So – why are you pointing that gun at me? That should get them meek. Don't have men anywhere in sight. Ie men, stay at home (or a different area). Also, you don't have them carrying slogans. This is just a quiet chat. Next – you clinch the deal by sending in girls the same age as the soldiers, which is presumably in the 20s. Young modern women are obviously going to be more vocal/active, so they carry signs saying “freedom freedom, pride of nation” or whatever. But the girls then talk to individual soldiers and ask them whether they want freedom for their country too. And I'm sure that political conversation will last all of about 30 seconds before they're rabbiting on about movies/facebook/music/whatever young girls get up to these days. With the personal bond formed like that – ie this is a real name and real face on both sides – the security forces cannot possibly be on RCD's side in this war. Then the girls can go back to their protesting, which, as well as “freedom freedom, pride of nation” includes things like “brave honorable men of the Tunisian security forces – protect the Tunisian women from the RCD regime – join us now”. Honestly, if a soldier can stand up to that sort of emotional pressure from women for more than 10 minutes, he must be gay. They don't allow gays in the Tunisian military, so report the homosexual behaviour to Ammar for expulsion and very soon you'll be in control of the armed forces of Tunisia. It should be plain-sailing getting technocrats in after that. Ammar will have no choice but to accede to the women's demands for technocrats. You may wish to aim for an all-female interim government. Given that there has been a recent violent confrontation between two groups of men, if women are in government, neither group of men really “lost” that battle. Face-saving measure for both sides. And as a side-effect, the whole process will attract massive media attention as empowerment of women is always of interest in the western press.

I would suggest trying multiple strategies at the same time, in case one of them fails.