On Saturday, February 7, Tunisia’s Minister of Defense Farhat Horchani visited the military buffer zone along Tunisia’s border with Libya to announce the completion of construction of a 250 km land barrier along the Libyan border. Yesterday’s announcement comes four months ahead of the original schedule for the barrier’s completion.
Originally, construction of the barrier, which runs south from the border crossing of Ras Jedir to Dhehiba, had been forecast to be a year-long project when it was begun in June of 2015 in response to the Sousse beach attack.
The Sousse attack, which killed thirty-eight foreign tourists, came only three months after the attack on the Bardo National Museum in March, both of which 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, construction on the barrier was accelerated.
Tunisian officials have expressed their belief that the explosives used in the device were similar to other explosive 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.
Horchani also observed a mock training exercise and announced that an ‘advanced electronic sensor system’ was being deployed along the barrier, with military trainers from the United States and Germany arriving soon to help install and train the Tunisian military on its use.
Horchani added that the deployment military advisers would require the signing of an agreement between Tunisia and the two countries.
As well as the development by the security and defense committees at the Assembly of the Representatives of the People (ARP) of a legal framework on the deployment of uniformed foreign military forces on Tunisian soil.
While on his visit to the Tunisian Libyan border, Horchani also ruled out a Tunisian military contribution to an international intervention in Libya.
Stating “Tunisia will not use weapons against Libya and will not intervene militarily in this country because Tunisia is convinced conflicts could only be settled through peaceful means.”
However Horchani acknowledged “there are several scenarios to the military intervention in this neighboring country. [Libya]”
The Defense Minister reiterated President Beji Caid Essebsi’s position that any foreign intervention should be preceded by consultations with Tunisia. Horchani specified that such cooperation would be necessary “in order to prevent any threat of terrorists’ infiltration in the country with the arrival of Libyan nationals and foreigners living in Libya to the Tunisian border.”
Horchani which added that with coordination and the barrier, “in case of a military intervention in Libya”,…”Tunisia is able to cope with any threat and protect its borders.”