The United States (US) decided to reduce the funds provided to Tunisia to start the third and final phase of securing its borders with Libya, a program implemented by the Tunisian army with funding from the US and Germany.
This was reported by the French-language information website Jeune Afrique on Friday, explaining that the halt to the project is a consequence of the sudden cooling of relations between Tunisia and the US.
The French magazine added that Tunisian-American relations have entered a cold phase since August 2021. Washington announced its disapproval of the political process that President Kais Saied started in Tunisia on July 25th of the same year and considered it a setback for democracy in the country.
According to Jeune Afrique, the US has frozen several projects, in particular with regards the safety of the last stretch of the Tunisian-Libyan border, an essential strategic element for Tunisia.
With the Libyan conflict continuing since 2011 and the terrorist attacks of 2015, Tunisia repeatedly closed its borders with Libya to ensure its own stability.
Pertaining to the southern border, notoriously porous and a crossing point for illicit trafficking, Tunisia had initially decided to erect a system of obstacles to prevent access to its territory for more than 200 of the 500 kilometers that separate Tunisia and Libya. From the coast and from the Ras Jedir border crossing to the Saharan border of Borj El Kadhra.
This device was to be doubled by an electronically tracked surveillance system funded jointly by the US and Germany.
Over 180 kilometers, the first part of the electronic system, running from Ben Gardane to Dhehiba was completed in 2017. The second section of 100 kilometers between Dhiba and Bir Zar was completed in 2021. 200 kilometers remain between Bir Zar and Borj El Kadhra, the most sensitive stretch as it borders a closed military zone. It is precisely the financing of this last phase that the US is suspending.