During a visit to Monastir on Sunday, March 6, Defense Minister Farhat Horchani told Jawahara FM that legislation is being prepared to establish an adequate legal framework to allow for the deployment of foreign naval vessels, ground forces and technicians on Tunisia soil as part of bilateral military cooperation regarding the training of Tunisian armed forces.
Horchani added that the legislation would also allow Tunisia to send forces abroad within the framework of bilateral agreements with other countries.
Despite Defense Minister Horchani’s statements to Jawahara, it appears that the deployments will begin prior to any, apparently not prerequisite, legislation.
In separate statements, also made in Monastir, Defense Minister Horchani told Mosaique FM that military engineers from the U.S. and Germany are expected to arrive in Tunisia on Monday, March 7, to begin installing an advanced electronic surveillance system along Tunisia’s border with Libya.
On Tuesday March 1, the spokesman for the Ministry of Defense, Belhassen Oueslati in a statement to TAP, indicated that 20 military personnel from the U.K. were already in Tunisia for a training program which had begun on February 8.
That announcement came in response to the announcement by the British Defense Secretary, Michael Fallon, on Monday, February 29, that U.K. military personnel were already in Tunisia to provide “mobile patrolling and surveillance training in Tunisia” to the 1st Brigade of the Tunisian National Army.
The surveillance system will be installed along the recently completed security barrier that spans 250 km from Ras Jedir to Dehiba. The barrier, a system of fences, sand walls, trenches and moats covers the portion of the border that is north of a vast military exclusion zone in Tunisia’s southern desert.
Construction of the security barrier had 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.
Sabratha was the target of a U.S. airstrike on February 19, that killed 50 mostly Tunisian militants. The intended target of the airstrike was Noureddine Chouchane who Tunisian officials suspect of having been involved in the Bardo attack.
On Wednesday, March 2, several SUV’s carrying militants entered Tunisia from Libya near Ben Guerdane (Medenine Governorate) after, passing over the security barrier along the Tunisia-Libya border.
The vehicles stopped in a town 10 km from Ben Guerdane after being intercepted by security forces. The militants took shelter in in a residential home and in the ensuing clashes an army colonel was wounded and a civilian was killed, as were five of the militants.