Tunisia’s Defense Minister Thursday underlined the North African country’s unwillingness to host a military base of any foreign country following recent reports that US military command for Africa, AFRICOM, will deploy a military brigade in Tunisia.
“Tunisia refuses to use its lands to conduct military operations or to establish foreign military units or bases,” Imed Hazgui told local Mosaique Radio.
“Tunisia was and still controls its land, maritime and airspace, and we do not allow any foreign force to be present in our country.”
Hazgui’s comments came amid rumors that AFRICOM, to counter Russia’s influence in neighboring Libya, is planning to deploy a military brigade in Tunisia.
The alleged brigade, said the US embassy in a statement issued early this month, is a simple training unit in the framework of a military assistance program, which in no way involves military combat forces”.
Several Tunisian non-state organizations including powerful Tunisian General Labor Union (UGTT), have laid into the government over plans to let Turkey and the US use the Tunisian soil for military intervention in Libya.
The UGTT explained in a statement that its position “comes at a time when the threats are increasing: Tunisian politicians have become entangled in the support of one side or the other, in addition to statements by the AFRICOM unveiling a strategy to exploit Tunisian territory for US intervention in the Libyan conflict.”
Tunisia has officially refused to back any side in the Libyan conflict.