U.S.-Tunisia Security Cooperation Escalates to Nearly $100 Million

Middle East and North Africa

U.S. Security Assistance to Triple in FY 2016 But Challenges Remain


Press Release

As President Obama prepares to discuss U.S.-Tunisia security cooperation to combat extremism on Thursday with President Beji Caid Essebsi at the White House, Obama will surely highlight his proposed increased U.S. military aid to Tunisia. For FY 2016, the U.S. plans to allocate $99 million in security assistance to Tunisia, which is a three-fold increase over FY 2014.

According to a fact sheet published last month and recent research by the Security Assistance Monitor, which provides the most comprehensive U.S. military and police aid data publicly available, it is possible to gain a good picture of the United States’ past and current security assistance focus.

  • The United States allocated 73 percent ($121 million) of its total security assistance ($167 million) to Tunisia’s military from FY 2011 to FY 2014 with a large focus on the provision of arms and military training for counterterrorism and border security.
  • For the FY 2016 request, U.S. security assistance to Tunisia’s military would increase to 88 percent of the total $99 million.
  • $46 million (27 percent) of the total $167 million went to the Ministry of Interior (MOI from FY 2011 to FY 2014 to “reform, train, and equip” the police, National Guard and prison system. The President is seeking continued aid to reform the MOI for FY 2016.


While the United States ramps up its security cooperation with Tunisia, it faces several significant challenges to effectively assisting Tunisia in its fight against extremism and providing border security.

  • The Tunisian military has been reluctant to share U.S. military equipment and intelligence with other Tunisian security forces, which has severely impeded coordination efforts among security forces to stem extremists.
  • Accustomed to using violent tactics to ensure public order, some Tunisian police officers are resisting reform, claiming switching to nonviolent tactics will hinder their ability to address extremist and criminal violence.


For more information and insight on U.S. security assistance to Tunisia, please contact Colby Goodman, Senior Research Associate at the Security Assistance Monitor, at (202) 232-3317 ext. 113 or Colby@ciponline.org.