Along the border between Tunisia and Libya, informal trade agreements led to a tight-knit border economy. But political changes in both Libya and Tunisia have fundamentally altered the economic and security landscape.
On June 27, Tunisia opened its land, sea, and air borders for the first time in three months. While the government’s aggressive response to the coronavirus successfully limited the number of cases in Tunisia, the shutdown caused severe economic stress.
Having lost the cushion of Gulf support, many Arab states are looking for external financing from international financial institutions and other donors such as China (particularly in North Africa) and the United States.
So far, the Tunisian military’s rapid response to the public health crisis in support of the elected government has been laudable. But there may be darker economic clouds on the horizon affecting the armed forces’ readiness and relations with the government.
Boukhars is a nonresident fellow in Carnegie’s Middle East Program. He is a professor of countering violent extremism and counter-terrorism at the Africa Center for Strategic Studies, National Defense University.
Hamza Meddeb is a nonresident scholar at the Carnegie Middle East Center, where his research focuses on economic reform, political economy of conflicts, and border insecurity across the Middle East and North Africa.
Sarah Yerkes is a senior fellow in Carnegie’s Middle East Program, where her research focuses on Tunisia’s political, economic, and security developments as well as state-society relations in the Middle East and North Africa.
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