Once surrounding castles of old, a moat stretching 100 miles is being dug by Tunisia against alleged terror threats from nearby Libya. Reporters are kept at arms distance from the digging in what officials have dubbed “a closed military area.”
Saltwater will fill the massive trench to be topped with sand dunes. Crocodiles are not mentioned in the moat’s prospectus.
“Why erect this wall when one was brought down between the two Germanies?” asked Salim Grira Mzioui, a local council representative of Wazen, a Libyan village along the border in an interview with Le Monde. “This will pose insurmountable problems. There are farmers cultivating land on both sides. There are also camel herds coming and going.
“The wall will put an end to ancestral traditions of border communities that have long ignored the state line artificially dividing entire tribes.”
“We’re going to divide a people,” Adel Arjoun, a Tunisian hotel owner from Medenine, told Le Monde.
According to Tunisian officials, incursions by terrorists who target tourists prompted the decision to dig the barrier. Last June, for example, 38 foreign tourists were killed by a Tunisian said to have been trained at a Libyan camp. Earlier, two attackers killed 21 foreign visitors at the Bardo Museum in Tunis.
But the small number of attacks suggests that Tunisia may be joining the anti-immigrant fever that has gripped some European countries.