Closure Threat Looms Over Libya-Tunisia Border Crossing Amid Security Concerns

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The main border crossing between Libya and Tunisia faces the specter of permanent closure following its shutdown on March 19th due to clashes between local militias and a force from the Ministry of Interior. Imad Trabelsi, the Libyan Minister of Interior, declared during a press conference in Tripoli on the evening of March 21st that the border crossing will remain closed for “as long as necessary” to quash the “trafficking” activities rampant within its confines.

Trabelsi emphasized the imperative to “secure the borders and combat criminality and trafficking,” reiterating the resolve of the Tripoli government to enforce a security plan aimed at curbing smuggling and illicit trade. Assertive and flanked by his cohorts, the minister vowed not to cede ground “in the face of drug traffickers and smugglers,” labeling the Ras Jedir border crossing in the northwest of the country as “one of the largest hubs of smuggling and criminality in the world.”

“I will not leave this passage open,” Trabelsi proclaimed, going as far as issuing a threat of permanent closure for the border crossing. He underscored that unless Ras Jedir border crossing is brought under the authority of the state, to be secured by the military force of the western coastal region, affiliated with the Ministry of Interior and led by the officer in charge of the border crossing, he would not allow its reopening.

Trabelsi emphasized the need for a reevaluation of the situation, stating that “this region shares a border with a neighboring country, and this cannot continue as is. We have two other border crossings at al ‘Assa and Machfa-al Saleh, and as of tomorrow, I could allocate the budget to restore them. Ras Jedir, we will seal it off with concrete blocks.”

On March 19th, the law enforcement force dispatched to Ras Jedir to halt smuggling activities and ensure traveler safety came under attack by armed groups originating from the town of Zouara, situated 60 kilometers from the border.

The escalation of tensions underscores the pressing need for concerted efforts to address security challenges along the Libya-Tunisia border, with implications for regional stability and cross-border trade.


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