On July 27, 2016, a diverse group of 121 former members of Congress, former senior U.S. government officials, and prominent Middle East analysts sent a letter to President Obama encouraging him to make an official visit to Tunisia before the end of his term. Signatories include six former U.S. Ambassadors to Tunisia and 10 former Members of Congress, including Senator Joseph Lieberman and former House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Howard Berman. Other signatories include former Deputy Secretary of State William Burns, former Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues Melanne Verveer, former Senior Director at the National Security Council Michael McFaul, former Director of National Intelligence Admiral Dennis Blair, and former Under Secretary of Defense Frank Wisner,

“During his seven and a half years in office, President Obama has visited more than 50 countries, including historic trips to Myanmar and Cuba. Tunisia, as the only genuinely democratizing Arab country, is at least as deserving as those nations of a presidential visit,” said Stephen McInerney, Executive Director of the Project on Middle East Democracy. “A visit by President Obama would send a powerful signal of American support as Tunisia faces the enormous challenges of building accountable institutions and improving its economy. The President should seize the opportunity to highlight a rare positive story in the Middle East and North Africa.”

The letter states, “It is impossible to overstate the value that a successful transition to democracy in Tunisia could have for the entire region.” It continues, “We strongly urge you to travel to Tunisia to demonstrate the depth of U.S. support for its historic democratic transition and to underscore your administration’s commitment to its success as a model in the Arab world.”

A PDF copy of the letter is available here.


Photo Credit: President Barack Obama talks on the phone with President Beji Caid Essebsi of Tunisia during a foreign leader call in the Oval Office, Jan. 5, 2015. (Pete Souza/Official White House photo)