Tunisia: US Affirms Support While Tying Funding to Democratic Reform

by | Mar 12, 2023 | Diplomacy, Tunisia


In a recent meeting with Minister of Finance Sihem Boughdiri, US Ambassador Joey Hood reiterated US support for Tunisia, particularly as it pertains to economic recovery. Hood expressed US willingness to assist Tunisia in securing financing from international and regional donor institutions and confirmed interest in collaborating with Tunisia in developing handicrafts, tourism, and green energy.

Hood’s recent meetings come as the US Department of State released its 2024 Congressional Budget Justification for the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs. The budget includes multiple line items for Tunisia, with a particular focus on military training and assistance. The Justification notes that Tunisia’s military “remain[s] on the front lines of the fight against ISIS and other terrorist groups and the instability emanating from Libya and serve as an important apolitical institution in Tunisian society.”

The Justification also includes a request to establish a new Middle East and North Africa Opportunity Fund “intended to enable the United States to respond to foreseen openings and support emerging opportunities.” The Justification specifically notes that this “could include democratic progress in Tunisia.” Tunisia is mentioned again as a “priority partner” when noting the need for flexibility in an “age of heightened strategic competition,” again mentioning the possibility that Tunisia “shows signs of a return to democratic governance.”


The US has thus far taken a measured approach to rebuking President Kais Saied and his administration even as many have called for a more direct approach. However, the 2024 budget clearly communicates US interest in seeing a return to democracy. While reduced from preceding years, US investment in Tunisian defense and counterterrorism capabilities continues as a reflection of the US view of Tunisia as a well-positioned partner in this area. Additional funding appears contingent upon future movement toward democratic systems.


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