Key Points

None of this suggests that Russia is engaged in geopolitical subterfuge—like Washington, it seeks to exert its diplomatic, economic, and security influence wherever it can. But amid the migrant crisis, the threat of international terrorism, and the lingering turbulence of the Arab Spring, North Africa is a region of the utmost consequence to Washington and its European allies. For the new U.S. administration, a comprehensive Russia policy will have to grapple with a Kremlin flexing its muscles not just in the United States and Europe but increasingly on the Mediterranean’s southern shore.

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After the state’s decision, jihadist attacks were confined for some time mainly to the western part of Tunisia, near the border with Algeria. But by October 2013, their desire to kill tourists in urban centers was made clear. And by 2015, two major attacks on tourist targets had shocked the country and the world.

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Tunisia will likely remain a key battlefield in the IS-AQ competition. The country’s major jihadist groups have leaders who are loyal to AQ but footsoldiers who skew pro-IS because Tunisian foreign fighters overwhelmingly fought under the Islamic State’s banner in Syria. As the competition between the two jihadist groups intensifies, civilians are likely to pay the price again.

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Grant Rumley is a research analyst at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

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Read the full article here.

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