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UAE, Tunisia to work together against threat of ‘terrorism’ following travel ban

December 27, 2017 at 11:19 am

Tunisian forces, 29 June 2017 [Armed Forces of Muslim World/Facebook]

The United Arab Emirates and Tunisia are working together to address the threat of “terrorism” following a spat last week in which a number of Tunisian women were banned from flying to the UAE.

According to the Tunisian government, the UAE has intelligence that female militants returning from Iraq or Syria will try to use Tunisian passports to stage terrorist attacks.

Tunisia had demanded the UAE apologise after it applied a travel ban on Tunisian women entering the country, saying it had provided no explanation for its sudden move. It went on to suspend Emirates airlines’ access to airports in the country.

However this week, Saida Garrach, an adviser at the Tunisian presidency, stated that the UAE had “serious information over the possibility of terrorist acts as part of returning fighters leaving Iraq and Syria,” according to Shems FM radio.

“What concerns the United Arab Emirates is the possibility of terrorist acts committed by Tunisian women or by Tunisian passport holders,” Garrach said.

Garrach went on to criticise the way the UAE had communicated this threat to Tunisia. “We are fighting terrorism together with the United Arab Emirates … But we cannot accept the way Tunisian women are treated and don’t accept what has happened to Tunisian women at airports.”

Read: Hundreds protest return of militants in Tunisia

UAE authorities last week prevented all female Tunisian nationals entry into the country under a “temporary” travel restriction which also included transit travellers in Dubai. The ban was lifted on Friday.

Tunisia is one of the countries that has had the highest concentration of militants travelling to countries like Syria and Iraq, a problem linked with high radicalisation among disillusioned youths and looser security following the country’s 2011 uprising.

Since the 2011 uprising that ousted long-time dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, Tunisia has seen an increase in attacks lead by Daesh which have killed scores of policemen and soldiers including 59 foreign tourists.

The military defeats of Daesh in Syria and Iraq this year has prompted many foreign militants and their families to return home to countries like Tunisia which has become concerned that their return will ignite further attacks on home soil and radicalisation.

More than 3,000 Tunisians are believed to have travelled abroad, according to the Interior Ministry with 800 having returned to Tunisia where they were then detained, monitored or placed under house arrest.