After a meeting with Tunisian President Beji Essebsi, President Obama announced he will formally name Tunisia as a “major non-NATO ally.”
Obama dubbed the move a “critical time in world history,” and a reflection of Tunisia’s Arab Spring revolt, and “change to a more open and competitive economy.”
Major non-NATO ally status is historically granted only to a few of America’s largest allies, and will include major new military ties and $500 million in loan guarantees for Tunisia.
That the tiny country of just 10 million people is considered a “major” anything by the United States is somewhat puzzling, particularly as the two nations have limited ties of any sort.
The timing is also bizarre, coming amid talk of adding Saudi Arabia and other GCC members to the list. Tunisia is not a GCC member nation, and that they’re behind Tunisia on the list may further irk the Saudis.
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