The 2022 iteration of US Africa Command’s Phoenix Express military exercise will conclude today in Tunisia. Held at La Goulette
The 2022 iteration of US Africa Command’s Phoenix Express military exercise will conclude today in Tunisia.
Held at La Goulette military base, the 17th iteration of Phoenix Express—led by the US Navy— aims to improve regional cooperation and operational capabilities and to address maritime security concerns. Thirteen nations across the Mediterranean and North Africa participated in the exercise including Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia.
Tunisia is one of the few democratization success stories to emerge from the Arab Spring, as well as a major non-NATO US ally that plays a significant role in Washington’s regional strategy. Yet, concerns about Tunisia’s recent slide towards authoritarianism—following President Kais Saied’s dissolution of parliament and subsequent refusal to hold parliamentary elections—are complicating US-Tunisia relations. The US is largely unwilling to put direct pressure on Saied, instead proposing a partial suspension of US military aid to Tunisia.
As president Saied’s actions indicate that he will continue down the path of authoritarianism, expect US-Tunisia relations to deteriorate further. This likely will lead the US to seek partnerships with other North African countries, as the US will be forced to impose sanctions on Tunisia and relocate military equipment lest it continues to support Saied’s autocratic government
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