|Tunisian troops were deployed in Kasserine last year to battle jihadists holed up in |
Jebel Chaambi, along the Algerian border.
Drug Smuggling in the name of Allah
Tunisia faces Narco-Jihadism on their borders and
Islamist extremists in their Parliament.
(Magharebia.com) - Tunisia is losing control over its borders with Libya and Algeria, according to the International Crisis Group.
The country's frontier has become a hotbed for extremists, jihadists and criminals. Hard drugs, weapons, and explosives were entering Tunisia on a regular basis from Libya, the research body said in a November 28th report.
The northern half of the Tunisian-Algerian border is being used for the growing and smuggling of cannabis, as well as small arms trafficking.
Algerian Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal recently revealed that terrorist groups in Tunisia were funded from drugs proceeds.
During a meeting on December 12th with Algerian civil society addressing the issues of security and drug smuggling, Sellal said that he had informed Tunisian authorities that terrorist groups in Jebel Chaambi were funded from the proceeds of drugs that cross the western borders towards the eastern borders.
Algerian media quoted Sellal as saying that the amount of confiscated goods represented only one tenth of smuggled goods.
The Crisis Group report warned that the continuation of this situation would contribute to the emergence of so-called Islamo-gangsterism. These gangs blend jihadism and organized crime with contraband networks operating on the borders and eventually move these phenomena to the cities.
The study called for improved relations between central authorities and residents of the border areas in addition to closer relations between Maghreb countries.
Tunisia, Algeria, and Libya are seeking to further security co-ordination to protect their borders through regular meetings to assess the situation and exchange information about the movements of terrorist groups, the activity of smugglers and drug dealers, and the reduction of organised crime.
During his December visit to Tunisia, Libyan Deputy Prime Minister Sadiq Abdulkarim said that Tunisia represented important strategic depth for Libya. Abdulkarim stressed the need to eliminate smuggling between the two countries through sustainable development.
As a preventive plan to curb smuggling, a free economic zone on the Tunisian-Libyan border is expected to be created this year, according to a December 12th statement from Libya's economy minister.
Smuggling has negative repercussions on the national economy, according to economics professor Abdjalil Badri.
"Smuggling is economic terrorism that weakens the state through attrition and sabotage of the economy," Badri said. "The goal is to impoverish the state, which is what terrorist groups are looking for to strengthen their presence and establish control over the country."
Badri warned that governments were "no longer able to control the hemorrhage of smuggled goods to the north and south".
The trade of contraband goods is a livelihood for many young people in Tunisia, especially residents of the border areas and some inland areas.
Nabil Nassri, a 28-year-old from Sidi Bouzid and a smuggled fuel dealer said it was "a profitable source of income as well, although it is hard work but the risk is better than unemployment".
Security forces thwart smuggling operations on a daily basis, especially on the Libyan border.
"We are working day and night to fight smuggling and trap smugglers," explained Lotfi Makhloufi, a security agent. "We have been able to thwart many operations, where we have confiscated a number of times smuggled weapons and explosives, as well as food, alcoholic beverages, and drugs."
"Honestly, controlling the border is not an easy thing due to its length, extensiveness, and the ruggedness of the desert," Makhloufi added. "It requires the availability of advanced electronic equipment that outweighs the equipment used by smugglers to transport their goods. This is what we hope for in order to eliminate smuggling and crack down on all smugglers and terrorists."
Tunisia's National Constituent Assembly
The 217 seat body is sharply divided between different factions
of Islam from secularists to Islamists.
American readers please do not be confused by these free multi-party elections. Have no fear, this moment will pass and you will return to the corrupt two party American elections where your Masters tell you that you are allowed only two parties in legislatures.
|Radical Islamists in Tunisia|