Tunisia's fight against IS

Craving genuine alliance

Terrorism is threatening the only democracy to emerge from the Arab spring. Tunisia needs more support from the international community if it is to win the war on terror, writes Tawfik Jelassi

2015 was a bloody year for Tunisia. There were attacks on the Bardo Museum in March, on a major hotel in Sousse in June and on the presidential guard in Tunis in November. This year, the terrorist militia IS even tried to take over the town of Ben Guerdane, near the Libyan border and establish an outpost in the country. This was unprecedented and deeply troubling.

Fortunately, the security forces were able to defend the city. About 50 terrorists were killed. It is worrisome, however, that they obviously enjoyed some support from within the country. Moreover, all of the terrorists who were so far identified turned out to be Tunisians. This raises a lot of questions. Perhaps there are more dormant terrorist cells in Tunisia.

The attack was launched from Libya. The violence that is rocking our neighbour is destabilising our country as well. The problems transcend borders and concern the entire international community. Tunisia′s nascent democracy is a beacon of hope in the Arab region. It deserves attention and support.

Tunisia needs security equipment. Among other things, it lacks advanced attack helicopters and night vision military capabilities to repel militant groups. It would also benefit from more intelligence sharing. 

Social deprivation fuels terrorism

Security, however, is not only a military issue. The socio-economic situation matters very much. It is a huge problem for the country and a major challenge for any government that some Tunisian regions are lagging behind economically. The people – and especially the younger generation – need jobs and opportunities, so infrastructure must be improved and industries developed. Without decisive action and foreign investment, unemployment will only get worse, purchasing power will decline and the social problems will grow.

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