23 April 2012

Tunisia: General Carter F. Ham - Supporting Country's Democratic Transition Is in United States' Interest

During a round table discussion today at the American Embassy in Tunis, General Carter F.Ham, Commander of United States Africa Command, said that it was in the United States' interest to further democratization, and that the most stable governments are those chosen by the people.

"We believe that country and people are best to serve when they get to choose their own governments," stated Ham.

The American general also addressed the threats facing Tunisia, qualifying them as "real." "The situation on the border is troubling, the elicit trafficking, weapons, humans, drugs... has a destabilizing influence. The regional insecurity that derives from the presence of Al Qaeda in this region, those threats are very real. I believe that the senior leaders in Tunisia clearly recognize the nature of the threats and are trying to shape the security forces to deal with the troubles that are threatening Tunisia in today's environment," he explained.

He also addressed the issue in Libya and the situation at the Tunisian-Libyan border. "Libyans are building from the ground and have enormous challenges, and border security is one of those challenges," he noted.

When asked about whether the United States is going to increase military aid to Tunisia, Ham said that with the United States' current financial constraints, they do not know whether this could be possible. "The United States is experiencing economic problems, so we do not know whether it will increase its military aid to Tunisia. Over the past year, the amount of funding has nearly doubled to reach 32 million dollars," he added. The general also mentioned the thirty-five Tunisians officers who are in training in the United States.

Ham further assured that the United States does not have plans to relocate the headquarters in Africa. "We are not relocating our headquarter for two reasons," he said. "The first is that some countries in Africa are still not supporting Africom, the second reason is that it is very expensive to set a new base and headquarter," he explained.

It is the third visit of the US General Commander to Tunisia, and his second visit since the Tunisian Revolution.

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