Tunisia is widely credited with initiating the wave of revolutions that swept the Arab world in 2011. Following the ouster of former President Ben Ali, the country navigated an extremely difficult political transition that culminated in the formation of a democratically elected government under a new constitution in December 2014.
While many of the issues that fueled mass protests during the revolution remain, including an anemic economy and endemic corruption, Tunisia faces several security concerns that threaten its nascent democracy. These concerns include the growing presence and violence of extremist groups, smuggling of arms and continued security force abuses.
Recognizing the country could serve as a model for others in the region, the United States has marshalled a significant amount of resources to assist Tunisia. From FY 2011 to FY 2014, the United States provided an estimated $167 million in security assistance and has requested at least $142 million for FY 2015 and FY 2016 combined. Yet, the United States has several challenges in effectively assisting Tunisia.