Pentagon chief Mark Esper on tour in the Maghreb

Secretary of Defense Mark Esper will begin a three-day visit to North Africa on Wednesday 30 September. Mark Esper makes his first trip to the African continent. He will talk about anti-jihadist cooperation. First step, Wednesday: Tunisia.

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Mark Esper has a meeting with President Kaïs Saied and his Minister of Defense. About the program: strengthening ties between the United States and Tunisia and the fight against jihadist organizations. And it should also be a question of China’s and Russia’s activities on the African continent.

The Pentagon chief also plans to visit the U.S. military cemetery in Carthage near Tunis, where U.S. soldiers who died in North Africa during World War II are buried.

After Tunisia, on Wednesday, Mark Esper takes over Algeria for the first visit to Algiers by a Pentagon chief since Donald Rumsfeld in 2006. His mission: to deepen cooperation on regional security issues.

Also there, he will be received by the President, Abdlemadjid Tebboune, a week after the visit to the Algerian capital as head of Africom, the US military command in Africa.

How should one interpret this US visit to Algeria by a US Secretary of Defense since 2006? For several reasons, explains Yahia Zoubir, professor of geopolitics at Kedge Business School. In particular, the fact that “the United States is aware that Algeria is crucial in Libya, in Mali; and there is great respect from the United States for Algeria over the role that Algeria plays in the Sahel, which the United States recognizes ”.

Yahia Zoubir

Finally, the third and final step for Mark Esper: Morocco, Friday, as the United States already maintains close security ties. No details at the moment about the scheduled interviews in Rabat.


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