Defense Minister Farhat Horchani spoke to the Assembly of the Representatives of the People (ARP) on Monday, February 15, on the recently completed security barrier along the Tunisian-Libyan border and argued for the further addition of an electronic surveillance system.
Defense Minister Horchani told the ARP’s Armed Forces Administrative Organization and Affairs Committee that “The sand barrier erected by the Defense Ministry to protect our border is insufficient and should be reinforced by an electronic monitoring system, as part of an international cooperation with Germany and the United States.”
Arguing that an electronic monitoring system, in addition to assisting efforts to tackle smuggling, would help Tunisia prevent its own nationals who had gone to Libya to train and fight with militant groups from reentering Tunisia undetected adding: “These terrorists threaten to commit terrorist acts in Tunisia in the absence of Libyan forces able to get the current situation under control.”
On Friday February 12, Horchani had spoken to the Armed Forces Administrative Organization and Affairs Committee, in a meeting closed to the media, on security matters including Libya.
Horchani had previously said that an ‘advanced electronic sensor system’ would be deployed along the barrier, when on Saturday, February 7, he visited the military buffer zone along Tunisia’s border with Libya to announce the completion of construction of a 250 km security barrier, which runs south from the border crossing of Ras Jedir to Dhehiba.
On that day Horchani had added that military trainers from the United States and Germany arriving to help install electronic monitoring system and train the Tunisian military on its use. Following those statements Horchani had added that the deployment military advisers would require the signing of an agreement between Tunisia and the two countries, as well as the Assembly of the Representatives of the People (ARP) to drafting and approval of a legal framework concerning uniformed foreign military forces on Tunisian soil.
Several days later on February 11, local media reported that “American experts” had visited the Ras Jedir crossing on the Tunisian Libyan border to examine security infrastructure along the border ahead of a planned installation of an electronic surveillance system.
Construction of the barrier began in June of 2015 in response to the Sousse beach attack, which killed thirty-eight foreign tourists, came only three months after another attack on the Bardo National Museum in March.
Both the Bardo and Sousse attacks were carried out by Tunisians who are believed to have visited militant training camps outside the Libyan city of Sabratha.
After a suicide bomber targeted members of Tunisia’s Presidential Guard in November, killing twelve, and marking the third major attack on Tunisian soil in 2015 construction on the barrier was accelerated and it was completed in four months rather than the original estimate of one year.
Tunisian officials have expressed their belief that the explosives used by the Tunis bomber were similar to other devices of ‘Libyan origin’ that had been seized in raids in 2015 which had thwarted planned bombings.
The Islamic State affiliated group Jund al-Khilafah claimed responsibility for all three attacks.