From 21 to 31 March 2022, the NESA Center, in partnership with U.S. Africa Command, held its eleventh annual Tunisian National Defense Institute (NDI) National Security Seminar for 48 senior government officials from 18 Tunisian agencies.
Led by its new Director, Sr Col Abdelkader Adouni, the NDI is a year-long Ministry of Defense program that is now in its 39th year. It brings a diverse group of interagency representatives together twice each week for an academic year to advance whole-of-government approaches to critical national security and political challenges. Each class is assigned a unique research theme by the Minister of Defense. This year’s assignment was entitled “Tunisia: A Gateway to Africa.” This is the 11th year in the NESA-AFRICOM partnership with the Tunisian National Defense Institute. The objective of the program was to better inform Tunisia policymakers going forward as they identify and refine their “niche” capabilities and identify the best African and international partners on the African Continent.
The seminar returned to an in-person security seminar in Washington, DC, after Class 37 was canceled, and Class 38 was held as a hybrid event due to Covid-19. Led by Course Director Professor Anne Moisan and Deputy Course Director Fahad Malaikah, the seminar was centered on assisting the participants in their assigned research and to better equip them as Tunisia continues its democratic transition and expands its collaborative efforts with other African partners. This year’s focus was on how best to positively leverage Tunisian comparative advantages as it looks south to working with its African partners.
Sessions focused on long-term global trends, ongoing opportunities and challenges associated with Tunisia-U.S. bilateral relations, insights on possible Biden Administration African foreign policy direction, the future direction of AFRICOM engagements, as well as on information pertinent to the class’s assigned theme as to Tunisia’s role in Africa. To that end, participants received presentations from sixteen speakers. Presentations began with a series provided by Dr. Michael Brown, Professor at George Washington University on “Regional Trends and Top Ten Priorities”; Her Excellency Ambassador Hanene Tajouri, Ambassador of the Republic of Tunisia to the U.S. on “Tunisia-U.S. Bilateral Relations”; LTG (Ret) Terry Wolff, Director of The NESA Center on “Emerging Security Threats and the New Face of Terrorism in Africa”; DAS Karen Sasahara, Director of Western Maghreb, Office of North African Affairs, U.S. State Dept. on “Tunisia Looking South”; Chidi Blyden, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Africa, OSD/Policy on “U.S. Defense: New Roles for Security Partners in Africa”; BG Mark Hovatter, Deputy Director, Plans and Strategic Integration, USAFRICOM and BD David Pritchett, Director of the Joint Staff, Joint Forces Headquarters, Wyoming National Guard/State Partnership Program with Tunisia on “Security Has Many Faces: AFRICOM and WYNG.”
The seminar then took a deeper dive into Africa with analyses by Abdoul Saalm Bello, Alternate Executive Director of the Africa II Group of Countries, World Bank on “The World and Tunisia Need Africa”; Ambassador J. Peter Pham, Former Special Envoy to the Sahel, U.S. State Dept. on “Future Sahel Challenges and Opportunities”; Dr. Landry Signe, Senior Fellow, Global Economy and Development Program and the Africa Growth Initiative, Brookings Institution on “Political Economy in Africa”; Stephanie Mikulasek, Division Chief in the Africa Bureau at USAID (including Yali) on “The Voices of Africa: Who are They and What do They Want”; Mohamed Malouche, Board Chairman, Tunisian American Young Professionals (TAYP) on “African Opportunities and the Role of Tunisia”; Joshua Meservey, Senior Policy Analyst, Africa and the Middle East, Davis Institute for National Security and Foreign Policy, The Heritage Foundation on “International Players in Africa”; Dr. Marcus King, John O. Rankin Associate Professor of International Affairs, George Washington University on “Non-Traditional Threats: Climate, Crime, Conflict and Migration”; Dr. Qamar Huda, Co-Founder & Vice President, The Center for Global Policy on “Islamic Peacemaking: A Role for Tunisia in Africa”; culminating with Dr. James Schear, Global Fellow, The Woodrow Wilson International Center on “Forging Security Partners in Africa … What Has Worked, Not Worked and What Lies Ahead.”