Tunisia: US Defense Secretary Echoes Senior US Diplomats’ Concerns about State of Democracy

by | Aug 10, 2022 | Diplomacy, Tunisia


On 9 August 2022, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin joined US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and nominee for the US Ambassadorship to Tunisia Joey Hood in expressing concern about the state of Tunisia’s democracy following the highly controversial 25 July referendum on President Kais Saied’s new constitution. The comments by Blinken and Hood prompted a summons of the acting US charge d’affaires, with the Tunisian Ministry of Foreign Affairs raising concerns about US “interference” in Tunisian government affairs.


Austin’s echoing of Blinken and Hood on the fragility of Tunisia’s democracy adds a key voice to the ongoing US messaging of dissatisfaction with President Kais Saied’s anti-democratic actions. As US Defense Secretary, Austin’s response signals that these are not mere diplomatic messages being exchanged, but that even the robust and far-reaching counterterrorism assistance and cooperation between the US and Tunisia could be up for discussion should Tunisia fail to remain a free and democratic partner.