Tunisia and the NATO are about to complete the plans for the development of a new “Tunisian Intelligence Fusion Centre” as announced by the Alliance in July 2016. Following the announcement by NATO Secretary-general Jen Stoltenberg, both sides have continued high-level negotiations for establishment of the new centralized intelligence center. The new international body will provide support to Tunisia’s security services as well as training for Tunisian Special Operation forces.
This decisive step towards the completion of the center highlights NATO’s increasing interest and operational footprint in the North African country and follows on the 2014 “Individual Partnership and Cooperation Program” that saw Tunisia and NATO promising cooperation across a range of areas, including border-security, cyber defense as well as the fight against terrorism. The 2015 visit of Tunisian Prime Minister to NATO’s headquarters in Brussels further cemented the deal and were followed by regular visits by NATO vessels to Tunisian ports. Both sides have also organized numerous joint naval exercises.
The completion of the new “Intelligence Fusion Centre” is poised to boost Tunisia’s strategic importance for the Alliance and strengthen NATO’s growing presence across North Africa and sub-Saharan countries. There are also assumptions that the planned center will be a NATO base, which Tunisian authorities have denied. However, there are still unanswered questions over the exact command-and-control over the center and whether it will ultimately serve as an intelligence unit belonging to NATO. Since the 2011 Tunisian revolution that gave rise to the so-called Arab Spring, the country has witnessed an increase in militant activity that has killed more than 100 soldiers and police, some 20 civilians and 59 tourists over the past few years.