Former minister: US Marines entered Tunisia by orders of ex-president Marzouki

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Former Tunisian Defense Minister Abdelkarim Zubaidi expressed his surprise at statements made by former President Moncef Marzouki to Al Jazeera regarding the US Embassy events, particularly when he stated his rejection of the request to bring in the US Marines.

Zubaidi said in a statement to Al Jazeera that he rejected any operation that allows landing of foreign military forces on Tunisian territory, stressing that he refused this when contacted by the former head of the Court of the President Imad Daimi to accept the landing of the 'Marines' at the request of US officials, including Hillary Clinton.


Zubaidi added that he had asked Daimi to send a written request from President Moncef Marzouki, and that the messenger arrived at the Ministry of National Defense on 14 September 2012 at 11 pm.

He said that the Marines arrived at around 2:00 am on the same day and gave instructions to search them thoroughly.

He said he submitted his resignation on September after this decision, which he described as 'irresponsible', and that was during a coordination meeting in the palace.

The number of the US Marines who were to enter the country was about 300 and because of the refusal of the Ministry of Defense, the number droped to dozens, he stated.

He pointed out that their status after that have been changed to become part of the protection forces of the US Embassy.

The former minister revealed that General Rashid Ammar refused to accept as well the landing of US marines in Tunisia when Marzouki contacted him, and confirmed to al-Marzouki that the Minister of Defense (Zubaidi) totally rejected this request.

Former Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki confirmed in an interview with Al Jazeera that the US security forces 'disappeared as if they evaporated' and that the Tunisian army refused to carry out orders when the US Embassy was attacked in Tunisia on September 14.

He said that the demonstrators came down suddenly and attacked the embassy in a protest against the film "Innocence of Muslims," which is disrespectful to Islam, without warning, and that he tried to contact senior security officials to inquire about the situation, but their phones were closed, "proving that the whole thing was planned," as he put it.

Marzouki revealed that “what everyone does not know’ is that the United States was considering a military landing of its forces in Tunisia to protect its embassy after realizing the seriousness of the attack, "which I confirmed the following day in a telephone conversation with Defense Minister Abdel-Karim al-Zubaidi."

He said that he contacted former army Chief Rashid Ammar and ordered him to send army units to secure and guard the US embassy. He didn’t react fast enough prompting him to call again and again and in response to his insistence Rashid Ammar asked him to issue a written order for the military forces to interfere.

“The events were escalating by that time in the vicinity of the embassy and four victims were killed in addition to many injuries," he said.

Al-Marzouki stressed the existence of "a large and incomprehensible security failure," along with the delay of Rashid Ammar as if he did not want to involve the army, but "then I had no choice but to use presidential security and I gave my orders to protect the American ambassador so as not to get him killed like the Libyan case and ordered them to secure the area.”

Activists launched a violent attack on former President Moncef Marzouki and called upon the public prosecutor to open an investigation and put him on trial.

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