July 27, 2016

The Honorable Barack Obama
President of the United States of America
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President:

As you consider the legacy of your presidency, we urge you to make an official visit to Tunisia, to demonstrate concretely the commitment you made during President Essebsi's visit in May 2015 that "the United States believes in Tunisia, is invested in its success, and will work as a steady partner for years to come."

Your visit to Tunisia would energize and reassure Tunisia's citizens and political leaders, sending a powerful signal of American support as the country struggles with the enormous challenges of building accountable institutions and a democratic society.

In 2009 in Cairo, you inspired citizens across the Middle East and North Africa by declaring a commitment to "common principles -- principles of justice and progress; tolerance and the dignity of all human beings." In the Arab world today, Tunisia stands alone as the one country where those principles of justice, progress, and tolerance have prevailed against all odds over the past five years.

Your Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes said in January that you would seek to consolidate your foreign policy legacy this year by traveling widely and by working with allies to combat extremism and foster the rise of emerging democracies.
There is no more important example of an emerging democracy in the world today than Tunisia, which has achieved historic progress through compromise and consensus-building. It is impossible to overstate the value that a successful transition to democracy in Tunisia could have for the entire region.

In addition, Tunisia is both the newest major non-NATO U.S. ally and an important partner in the counter-ISIL coalition that, with U.S. support, is demonstrating increasing effectiveness at fighting extremism at home and across its borders.
A visit to Tunisia would allow you to highlight a rare example of progress in countering extremism in a region too often defined by rising extremism and violent conflict.

Finally, Tunisia presents a unique opportunity in a difficult election-year climate here at home, as a positive story that enjoys bipartisan support in Congress and as a North African country where both the government and the people want greater U.S. engagement. 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.


Stephen McInerney                                    Ambassador William J. Burns, Ret.
Executive Director, POMED                        Deputy Secretary of State, 2011-2014

Ambassador Gordon Gray, Ret.               Ambassador William  J. Hudson, Ret.
U.S. Ambassador to Tunisia, 2009-2012     U.S. Ambassador to Tunisia, 2004-2006

Ambassador Rust Deming, Ret.                Ambassador Robin Raphel, Ret. 
U.S. Ambassador to Tunisia, 2001-2003      U.S. Ambassador to Tunisia, 1998-2000

Ambassador John T. McCarthy, Ret.       Ambassador Walter L. Cutler, Ret.
U.S. Ambassador to Tunisia, 1991-1994      U.S. Ambassador to Tunisia, 1982-1984

Joseph Lieberman                                       Howard Berman
U.S. Senator, 1989-2013                               U.S. Congressman, 1983-2013

Jane Harman                                               David Dreier
U.S. Congresswoman, 1993-1999,               U.S. Congressman, 1981-2013

Jim Kolbe                                                     Lynn Woolsey
U.S. Congressman, 1985-2007                     U.S. Congresswoman, 1993-2013

Nancy Johnson                                            Robert "Bud" Cramer
U.S. Congresswoman, 1983-2007                U.S. Congressman 1991-2009

Jim Moody                                                   Benjamin Chandler
U.S. Congressman, 1983-1993                     U.S. Congressman, 2004-2013

Anne-Marie Slaughter                              Ambassador Melanne Verveer, Ret.
Director of Policy Planning                        Amb. at Large for Global Women's Issues

Amb. Frank G. Wisner, Ret.                     Amb. Paul Wolfowitz, Ret.
Under Secretary of Defense for Policy        Deputy Secretary of Defense, 2001-2005

J. Brian Atwood                                          Admiral Dennis Blair, Ret.
Administrator, USAID , 1993-1999              U.S. Director of National Intelligence

Ambassador Michael McFaul, Ret.           Ambassador Miriam Sapiro
Special Assistant to the President &             Deputy U.S. Trade Representative
Senior Director National Security                 2009-2014
Council, 2009-2012

Amb. Richard Murphy, Ret.                            Amb. Edward S. Walker Jr., Ret.
Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern     Assistant Secretary of State for Near
and South Asian Affairs, 1983-1989                   Eastern Affairs, 2000-2001

Patricia Dennis                                                  John Shattuck
Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy,      Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights, & Labor, 1992-1993                               Democracy,  Human Rights, & Labor,

Lorne Craner                                                    David Kramer
Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy       Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights, & Labor, 2001-2004                               Democracy, Human, Rights, & Labor,

Michael Posner                                                   Brian Hook
Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy        Assistant Secretary of State for
Human Rights, & Labor, 2009-2013                   International Organization Affairs,

Amb. William Taylor, Ret.                               Amb. James B. Cunningham, Ret.
Special Coordinator for Middle East                  U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan,
Transitions, 2012-2014                                       2011-2013

Amb. Ronald L. Schlicher, Ret.                      Amb. James Larocco, Ret.
Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State    Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary
for Near Eastern Affairs, 2008-2011                   of State for Near Eastern Affairs,

Amb. Edward William Gnehm, Jr.,                Ret. Amb. Philip Wilcox Jr., Ret.
Deputy Asst. Secretary of State for Deputy       Assistant Secretary of State for
Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs               Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs,
1989-1990                                                          1987-1988

Amb. David Mack, Ret.                                   Toni Verstandig
Deputy Assistant Secretary of State                   Deputy Assistant Secretary of State
for Near Eastern Affairs, 1990-1993                  for Near Eastern Affairs, 1994-2001

Allen Keiswetter                                               Scott Carpenter
Deputy Assistant Secretary of State                   Deputy Assistant Secretary of State
for Near Eastern Affairs, 2000-2001                 for Near Eastern Affairs, 2004-2007

Tamara Cofman Wittes                                   Nazanin Ash
Deputy Assistant Secretary of State                   Deputy Assistant Secretary of State
for Near Eastern Affairs, 2009-2012                 for Near Eastern Affairs, 2012-2014

Ambassador Ryan Crocker, Ret.                   Ambassador William A. Rugh, Ret.
U.S. Ambassador to Iraq                                   U.S. Ambassador to the United Arab  2007-2009                                                         Emirates, 1992-1995

Ambassador Robert Ford, Ret.                     Ambassador Cameron Hume, Ret.
U.S. Amb. to Algeria, 2006-2008                     U.S. Amb. to Algeria 1997-2000

Amb. Thomas Nassif, Ret.                            Amb. E. Michael Ussery, Ret.
U.S. Ambassador to Morocco 1985-1988       U.S. Ambassador to Morocco 1989-1992

Amb. Kurt Volker, Ret.                                  Amb. Stephen Seche, Ret.
U.S. Ambassador to NATO, 2008-2009           U.S. Ambassador to Yemen, 2007-2010

Jennifer Windsor                                              Jim Phippard
Deputy Assistant Administrator and Director,   Director of USAID Mission in Tunisia
Center for Democracy and Governance,           1982-1987
USAID, 1998-2000

Joel Rubin                                                         Benjamin Fishman
Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for             Director for North Africa & Jordan
Legislative Affairs, 2014-2015                          National Security Council, 2012-2013

Ambassador Mark P. Lagon, Ret.                  Ambassador Theodore Kattouf, Ret.
President                                                            President
Freedom House                                                 AMIDEAST

Elisa Massimino                                               Richard Fontaine
President & CEO                                               President
Human Rights First                                           Center for New American Security

Christopher J. Griffin                                    W. Bowman Cutter
Executive Director                                            Director, Next American Economy
Foreign Policy Initiative                                   Project, Roosevelt Institute

Michele Dunne                                                 Robert Kagan
Director & Senior Associate, Middle East        Senior Fellow, Project on International
Program, Carnegie Endowment for                  Order & Strategy, Brookings Institution
International Peace

Francis Fukuyama                                            Thomas Carothers
Olivier Nomellini Senior Fellow                         Vice President for Studies
Freeman Spogli Institute, Stanford University    Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

Marwan Muasher                                             Amy Hawthorne
Vice President for Studies                                   Deputy Director for Research
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace   Project on Middle East Democracy

Ellen Laipson                                                    Haleh Esfandiari
President Emeritus & Distinguished Fellow     Former & Founding Director, Middle
Stimson Center                                                   East Program, Woodrow Wilson
                                                                           International Center for Scholars

Alfred Stepan                                                    Larry Diamond
Fellow, Am. Academy of Arts and Sciences       Senior Fellow
Wallace Sayre Professor of Government,           Hoover Institution, Stanford University
Columbia University, Emeritus

Steven Heydemann                                              Ted Piccone
Janet W. Ketchum Prof. of Middle East Studies    Senior Fellow, Project on
Smith College                                                        International Order & Strategy
                                                                               Brookings Institution
Perry Cammack                                                  Kate Seelye
Associate, Middle East Program                          Senior Vice President
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace     Middle East Institute

Caroline Freund                                                   Shadi Hamid
Senior Fellow                                                         Senior Fellow, Project on U.S.
Peterson Institute for International Economics     Relations with the Islamic World,
                                                                                Brookings Institution

Charles Dunne                                                     Jeffrey Gedmin
Non-Resident Scholar                                           Senior Fellow
Middle East Institute                                            Georgetown University

Stephen Grand                                                  Heather Hurlburt
Nonresident Senior Fellow, Project on U.S.       Director, New Models of Policy
Relations with the Islamic World                        Change Initiative, New America
Brookings Institution

Paul Salem                                                       Henri Barkey
Vice President for Policy and Research            Director, Middle East Program
Middle East Institute                                         Woodrow Wilson International
                                                                           Center for Scholars

James Denton                                                 Neil Hicks
Publisher and Editor                                       Director, Human Rights Promotion
World Affairs Journal                                      Human Rights First

Daniel Brumberg                                           Andrew Albertson
Assoc. Prof., Department of Government        Senior Governance Advisor
Georgetown University                                    International Peace and Security

Sarah Yerkes                                                      Kathy Bailey
Visiting Fellow, Ctr. for Middle East Policy       Principal
Brookings Institution                                           King Street Strategies

Mohamed Malouche                                        Jerry Sorkin
Chairman of the Board                                      Founder and President
Tunisian American Young Professionals            TunisUSA

Radwan Masmoudi                                         William Lawrence
President, Center for the Study of Islam           Prof. of Political Science and
and Democracy                                                 International Affairs
                                                                           George Washington University

Neil Brown                                                       Ellen Lust
Nonresident Fellow                                           Professor, Dept. of Political Science,
German Marshall Fund                                    University of Gothenburg

Alexander M. Djerassi                                    Leila Hilal
Former Nonresident Associate                         Senior Fellow, International Security
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace  Program, New America

John Entelis                                                     Ellen Bork
Professor of Political Science                           Senior Fellow
Fordham University                                          Foreign Policy Initiative

Karim Mezran                                                Cole Bockenfeld
Senior Fellow, Rafik Hariri Center                  Deputy Director for Policy
for the Middle East, Atlantic Council               Project on Middle East Democracy

Daniel Serwer                                                Sarah Feuer
Professor, School of Adv. Int. Studies             Soref Fellow
Johns Hopkins University                               Washington Institute for Near East

Hardin Lang                                                   I. William Zartman
Senior Fellow                                                  Professor Emeritus, School of Advanced
Center for American Progress                        International Studies
                                                                        Johns Hopkins University

Juan Cole                                                       Nancy Okail
Richard P. Mitchell Collegiate Professor       Executive Director
of History, University of Michigan                Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy

Amaney Jamal                                                Randa Slim
Director, Mamdouha S. Bobst Center for        Director, Track II Dialogue Initiative
Peace and Justice, Princeton University          Middle East Institute

Anouar Boukhars                                               John L. Esposito
Nonresident Scholar, Middle East Program         Professor of Religion & International
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace    Affairs, Georgetown University

Eva Bellin                                                         Joseph Bahout
Myra and Robert Kraft Professor of Arab        Visiting Scholar, Middle East Program
Politics, Brandeis University                             Carnegie Endowment for International

Daniele Moro                                                    Wayne White
Executive Director                                             Scholar
U.S.-Italy Global Affairs Forum                        Middle East Institute

Monica Marks                                                 Nader Hashemi
Ph.D. Candidate                                                Director, Center for Middle East
Oxford University                                              Studies, University of Denver

Radwan Ziadeh
Institute for Social Policy and Understanding

*All affiliations included for identification purposes only.

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