The U.S. announced Friday that it would greatly increase its military aid to Tunisia and help train troops as the country struggles to combat internal threats from militants. U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Washington would aim to provide more weapons and technical support to Tunisia, Agence France-Presse reported.
“We are prepared to provide additional assistance and training to Tunisia’s security forces. Our goal is to strengthen their capability to defeat those who threaten the nation's freedom and integrity,” he told a news conference after meeting Tunisian Prime Minister Habib Essid.
“To that end President [Barack] Obama is seeking to double our security assistance budget for Tunisia next year,” he said, without giving specific figures, AFP reported.
Blinken said the aid would help increase security at the country's borders, which are loosely controlled and often used by smugglers and militants from Algeria and Libya. The assistance would also be deployed to “deal with the terrorism challenge presented here in Tunisia,” he added.
Tunisia emerged from the revolutions in the Arab world that began in 2011 as a relatively stable nascent democracy. However, it has since struggled to contain the rise of violent militancy that has killed dozens of members of its security forces. While groups such as the Islamic State have yet to make major headway in the country, Tunisia has found itself becoming a prime source of recruits for ISIS.
A March attack on a famous Tunisian museum, which was later claimed by ISIS, killed 22 people. An al Qaeda-affiliated terror cell also reportedly contributed to the Bardo national museum massacre.