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Spain to lead NATO's new Antijihadist mission in Tunisia

Allies to instruct Tunisian army in counter-terrorism special operations

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Spain to lead NATO's new Antijihadist mission in Tunisia

In his first intervention at a NATO summit, new Spanish president, Pedro Sánchez, wanted to demonstrate that, although Spain is at tail of allied countries in defense investment (it spends 0.93% of GDP, as well as Belgium and only less than Luxembourg) , is one of most willing to take a step forward to participate in missions.

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In plenary meeting with allied leaders, Sanchez announced that Spain will lead new NATO-approved assistance mission to Tunisia. Although its advice will extend to fields as diverse as cyberdefence, deactivation of explosive devices or management of economic resources, in its first phase will focus on instruction of Tunisian military in special operations to fight Against jihadism. Military sources explained that, since it is a very incipient mission, Spanish participation is expected to be limited to three officers at beginning.

In addition, Sanchez offered Rota Naval Base (Cádiz), with its amphibious capabilities, to lead a hypotical evacuation of UN personnel in Libya. The sources consulted indicated that Secretary general of UN, Antonio Guterres, went to NATO to ask for support in event that such "extraction" was necessary and that, until now, demand had not been answered. According to same sources, it would be a limited operation ( UN has about 30 people in Libya), which is not considered urgent but must be ready in case security situation deteriorates.

Both operations, as well as Jordan Assistance Mission, will be coordinated from NATO's new Regional Hub South in Naples, Italy, whose final operational capacity has been declared at this summit. This unprecedented center aims to improve "awareness and understanding of security challenges, support collection, Exchange and management of information, and coordinate activities" of NATO in a region spanning North Africa and east Next. The command is exerted by an Italian general but Spain, which contributes 15 soldiers, same as host country, aspires to a position according to its weight.

The Spanish president, who welcomed NATO's attention to its sourn flank, said on his arrival at summit that he "understands" Trump's demands for allies to increase his military spending but insisted that, "to be fair" , or factors should be taken into account, such as investment in military capacities and contribution to operations, in which Spain is well above average. Sanchez, who attends his first NATO summit, met with British Prime Minister Theresa May and Norway Erna Solberg, and briefly greeted Trump in presence of Defense Minister Margarita Robles.

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