Tunisian PM Youssef Chahed will spend two days meeting with US Defence Secretary James Mattis and other officials starting today.
Tunisia relies on US military aid, including training and weapons to quell Islamic extremism at home and in neighbouring Algeria and Libya. As President Trump proposed cutting military aid by 67%, Chahed will try to see if he can regain lost support.
One of the arguments which he may use to convince Washington is that the American military aid is vital to protect Tunisia’s borders. Smuggling is a major problem, not only costing the country revenue, but also financing terrorism. Chahed has vowed to deal with the problem, saying the fight against organised crime and corruption “is a war, not a one-off battle.”
But without American military aid, that fight will prove much harder to win, leading Tunis to turn to Europe for support.