MBS is on his first international tour of the Middle East since Jamal Khashoggi was killed inside Saudi Arabia's Istanbul consulate.

Increasing opposition to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's (MBS) visit to Tunisia is mounting with hundreds expected to come out and protest his arrival. 

"Our move came against the backdrop of his visit to Tunisia, and we consider that Tunisia is more honourable and pure than to receive a criminal like MBS," Zied Jaouadi one of the organisers of a protest against MBS's visit told TRT World.

The Saudi Crown Prince is on a tour of Arab states, including Egypt, Algeria, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Tunisia, his first since the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi unfolded of which MBS stands accused of authorising.

There is also anger in Tunisia at what many in Tunisia see as the role Saudi Arabia played in rolling back the Arab Spring revolution.

"Saudi Arabia exploited the Arab Spring to help spread the ravages and sedition in the Arab countries, and evidence of that cover up on the criminal wanted internationally Zine El Abidine Ben Ali," said Zied Jaouadi.

Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was the former Tunisian president, deposed in 2011 after unprecedented street protests ended his 23-year rule, punctuated by corruption and political oppression. 

Ben Ali consequently fled to Saudi Arabia and has not been heard of since. 

Giant wall poster of Saudi Crown Prince MBS holding a chainsaw:
Giant wall poster of Saudi Crown Prince MBS holding a chainsaw: "No to the desecration of the land of Tunisia and the revolution" Source: Mohamed-Dhia Hammami, (Med Dhia Hammami / )

MBS's visit is being opposed for many reasons according to Mohamed-Dhia Hammami, a Middle East political analyst speaking to TRT World, including the fear that his visit could further politicise Tunisian politics.

"They are holding him responsible for the assassination of the journalist Khashoggi, as well as the multiple crimes against humanity he is committing in Yemen. Tunisia’s BDS campaign mentioned his relationship with Israel. He is seen as a representative of the Saudi regime’s belligerent foreign policy that destabilised the region."

The visit to Tunisia by MBS comes at a particularly important moment for the beleaguered Tunisian government, which is facing economic difficulties with increasing unemployment.

"Knowing the economic situation of the country, it is expected that the current ruling coalition that includes Ennahda would be willing to get foreign aid from Saudi Arabia" added Hammami. However, any such injection would be a temporary sticking plaster for some of the deeper issues facing the Tunisian economy.  

MBS's visit to Algeria faced similar controversy with the President of the Algerian party Society for Peace (MSP) Abderrazak Makri also opposing the crown prince's visit to Algeria. 

"He is responsible for the massacre of Yemeni civilians and children. He is responsible for imprisoning a large number of innocent Saudi political opponents as well. And fingers point to him around the world regarding the horrible assassination of the journalist Jamel Khashoggi," Makri told TRT World.

He also put the visit down to Saudi efforts to quell political discontent in a major oil producer regarding the negative impact lower oil prices, currently being pushed down by Saudi, could have on the Algerian economy 

Tunisia home of the Arab Spring

Tunisia is home to the "Arab Spring" revolution which set in motion a series of protests that have rocked the Arab world and resulted in bloody crackdowns in Egypt, Libya, Syria, Bahrain and Yemen. 

Saudi Arabia and the UAE played a key role in ensuring that the Arab Spring failed in several countries, including supporting the ouster of Egypt's first democratically elected leader, Mohammed Morsi, and sending troops to Bahrain to help calm unrest and protests staged by the country's majority Shia population.

Saudi Arabia's then King Abdullah had also announced benefits for the kingdom's citizens worth some $37 billion in an apparent bid to insulate the world’s top oil exporter from an Arab protest wave.

Any legal challenge to MBS visiting Tunisia is unlikely to succeed. However, it will send a clear signal to MBS that there is a country in the Middle East where one can still protest his visit.

Source: TRT World