A report by the “Turkishminute” website stated that the Justice and Development Party seized a great opportunity by establishing strong relations with the Ennahda government in 2012 and 2013, after the fall of Ben Ali, who ruled the country from 1987 to 2011. During this period, many Turkish diplomats and leaders of the Justice and Development Party as well as pro-Erdogan NGOs rushed to Tunisia. Turkey and Tunisia signed a treaty of friendship and cooperation in 2011 and established a high-level strategic cooperation council in 2012. The Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency and Yunus Emre Institute began their activities in the country.
Bilateral trade between Turkey and Tunisia has reached more than one billion dollars by 2020, in addition to cooperation in the fields of mining, energy, food and agriculture. The Tunisian Ministry of Defense also signed a contract with the Turkish Aerospace Industries Company to purchase drones in 2020 worth 240 million dollars, after it rejected a similar deal with Paris.
Yet the power shift in Tunisia is increasingly troubling to the Erdogan regime, not only in that Turkish investments are under threat, but also because it jeopardizes Turkey’s intervention in neighboring Libya, where Turkish forces have backed Libya’s UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) in its conflict with the Libyan National Army.
According to the report, Erdogan has already lost two close allies in the Middle East and North Africa, former Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi and ousted Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, which prompted Erdogan to work hard to prevent a political embargo on the Ennahda movement, as he is likely to lose a political ally in Tunisia, as happened in Egypt and Sudan. The report said this may extend its influence to neighboring Libya, in which Turkey is betting on its influence as the last remaining basis for its presence in North Africa.