US Defense Secretary Mark Esper signed a 10-year military cooperation deal with Tunis Wednesday at some point of his first stop on a regional tour, hailing US-Tunisia collaboration over the combat in neighbouring Libya.
The previous decade has viewed growing cooperation between the Pentagon and Tunisia, especially on counter-terror training and securing the North African country’s lengthy border with Libya, the place jihadist groups operate and world powers back rival facets in a complex war.
“We seem ahead to increasing this relationship to help Tunisia guard its maritime ports and land borders, deter terrorism and hold the corrosive efforts of autocratic regimes out of your country,” Esper said in a speech after meeting President Kais Saied.
Speaking at a cemetery in Carthage housing the remains of over 2,800 American soldiers, generally killed in World War II, he warned of the worldwide threat posed by means of “violent extremists”.
Esper also accused US rivals China and Russia of continuing “to intimidate and coerce their neighbours whilst expanding their authoritarian have an impact on worldwide, together with on this continent.”
He stated Moscow and Beijing’s “malign, coercive, and predatory behaviour” aimed to “undermine African institutions”. Washington in 2015 classified Tunisia as a Major Non-NATO Ally, permitting for reinforced navy cooperation.
The two aspects commonly maintain joint exercises, and considering that 2011 Washington has invested more than $1 billion in the Tunisian military, according to the US Africa Command, Africom.
The deal signed Wednesday, full small print of which have now not been disclosed, lasts a decade and covers training and after-sales carrier of sophisticated American weapons, said officials in Esper’s entourage.
Tunisia in 2016 denied a Washington Post record that it had allowed the US to function drones from its territory for missions in Libya towards the Islamic State jihadist group.
But a courtroom martial in 2017 in a case of sexual harassment by way of an American officer, mentioned in the US defence press, publicly validated the presence of an American squadron operating drones from within a Tunisian base in the northern location of Bizerte.