Today in North African history: the Battle of Sidi Bouzid begins (1943)

The central Tunisian city of Sidi Bouzid is best known today as the birthplace of the Arab Spring. It was in Sidi Bouzid where Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire in December 2010 to protest what he believed was unfair treatment at the hands of Tunisia’s corrupt government. The repercussions of that single act of protest have been felt throughout the Arab world and, for better or worse (often worse) are still reverberating today.


But during World War II, Sidi Bouzid was the scene of an Axis victory, part of the 1942-1943 Tunisia Campaign and one of the first engagements between American and German forces in the war. As a piece of (or preliminary to) the larger Battle of Kasserine Pass, it wasn’t a major battle, but the result (and the result of Kasserine Pass) caused the Allies, particularly the Americans, to reassess their unit organization and to jettison some of their most ineffective officers in favor of more capable replacements. The Allied forces were considerably strengthened for all of that introspection. In the big picture, then, you could argue that the Axis victory here helped create the conditions by which they ultimately lost the North Africa campaign.

Source: Today in North African history: the Battle of Sidi Bouzid begins (1943)


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