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  • Author: Andrew Lebovich
  • Publication Date: 08-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Council On Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: France, Germany, and Sahel countries launched the Sahel Alliance in 2017 with the aim of bringing together major international donors to better coordinate development assistance and other financing efforts for the region. The Alliance aimed to integrate security, development, and governance perspectives but has struggled to find coherence and effectiveness – although it has adopted some novel approaches. The worsening security situation in the Sahel led international actors to then set up new initiatives, including the Partnership for Security and Stability in the Sahel and, more recently, the Coalition for the Sahel. However, the relationship between these initiatives remains largely theoretical, with the practicalities of cooperation and burden sharing yet to be fully defined. These new initiatives risk privileging security solutions to complex problems, meaning that necessary governance reforms may fall by the wayside. This is despite widespread acknowledgement, including from senior French officials, that there is no purely military solution to the varied conflicts and challenges in the Sahel.
  • Topic: Security, Development, Diplomacy, Political stability
  • Political Geography: Europe, France, Germany, North Africa, Sahel
  • Author: Thierry Brésillon, Hamza Meddeb
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Council On Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: Tunisia’s 2019 elections produced a vote against the establishment and a fragmented political landscape in which it was challenging to form a government. Parliament is deeply divided and lacks a clear foundation for stable and efficient policymaking, while the new president has neither political experience nor a party to implement his agenda. The 2019 elections may have finally ended the transactional power-sharing agreement forged by Ennahda and representatives of the old regime, which long ignored major socio-economic challenges. The government must build on its successful response to the covid-19 pandemic to create a compromise that shares the burden of economic reform between major political actors and interest groups. If it fails to do so, the resulting rise in economic and social tension could empower anti-democratic forces and destabilise Tunisia. The European Union should actively help the Tunisian government take the path of reform by launching a strategic dialogue to rethink their priorities and identify their common interests.
  • Topic: Politics, Reform, Elections, European Union, Economy, Crisis Management, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: North Africa, Tunisia
  • Author: Anthony Dworkin
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Council On Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: North African countries, each for their own reasons, are increasingly turning their attention towards sub-Saharan Africa. Morocco is pursuing a comprehensive campaign to increase its influence and win support with regard to Western Sahara. Algeria may be showing new flexibility in its response to security threats to its south. Tunisia is beginning to look for new economic opportunities in Africa. Egypt is responding to a series of strategic concerns, particularly over the waters of the Nile. Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia are also all dealing with increased migration flows, with migrants seeking to work on their territories or pass through it to reach Europe. This North African turn to sub-Saharan Africa offers opportunities for European cooperation. But the EU should be aware of the distinctive agendas of North African countries and the reservations that their initiatives engender in some countries.
  • Topic: International Relations, Migration, Regional Cooperation, Foreign Direct Investment
  • Political Geography: Africa, Algeria, North Africa, Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia
  • Author: Amel Boubekeur
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Council On Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: The Hirak protest movement has revealed flaws in Algeria’s ruling system, which lacks the tools to reinvent itself or negotiate a new social contract with the people. The army has been unable to restore the “civilian president” narrative it used for two decades, while the current president has been unable to disguise his dependence on the military leadership. The regime can no longer use rigged elections as a substitute for negotiations with citizens. The regime is trying to promote a narrative on the removal of mafias connected with the former president as a guarantee of a new era. The Hirak has created a political culture of popular empowerment, but it still has to agree on a road map for a political transition.
  • Topic: Corruption, Politics, Social Movement, Elections, Protests, Demonstrations
  • Political Geography: Algeria, North Africa
  • Author: Manuel Langendorf
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Council On Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: The growth of the digital economy in the Middle East and North Africa could become one of the key solutions to the region’s youth unemployment crisis. Governments in the region have taken steps to create an environment in which technology startups can thrive. However, they need to overcome challenges such as flaws in their education systems, bureaucratic inefficiency, and a lack of funding for new businesses. Digitisation not only creates new opportunities for employment and political participation but also enables digital authoritarianism in the region. Europeans must help construct the region’s digital infrastructure, to prevent China from popularising its internet governance model there. The European Union should support the digitisation drive in the Middle East and North Africa through regulation, capacity-building, and funding.
  • Topic: Science and Technology, Digital Economy, Political stability, Digital Policy
  • Political Geography: Europe, Middle East, North Africa
  • Author: Jean-Baptiste Gallopin
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Council On Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: Sudan’s transition to constitutional rule is failing: the reform of political institutions has not begun, while the country faces an intensifying economic crisis, a dramatic decline in living conditions, and a flare-up in localised violence. The civilian wing of the Sudanese state is bankrupt but unwilling to confront powerful generals, who control a sprawling network of companies and keep the central bank and the Ministry of Finance on life support to gain political power. The United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia appear to be positioning a paramilitary leader known as Hemedti as Sudan’s next ruler, but the military is fiercely hostile towards him. Western countries and international institutions have let the civilian wing of the government down: they failed to provide the financial and political support that would allow Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok to hold his own against the generals. The transition will only succeed if the government stabilises the economy and civilians work hard to tilt the balance of power away from the military and towards themselves. Europeans should use their relationships with Hamdok, the UAE, and Saudi Arabia to establish civilian control of the generals’ networks of companies.
  • Topic: Corruption, Government, Reform, Finance, Transition
  • Political Geography: Sudan, North Africa
  • Author: Cinzia Bianco
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Council On Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: Since 2011, members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) have become increasingly assertive players across the Middle East and north Africa, particularly given the shifting US role in the region. European countries, long used to working under a US umbrella in the Gulf, have struggled to recalibrate their relationships with Gulf states and have been increasingly marginalised as relevant actors. Europeans urgently need to strengthen their geopolitical role in the Gulf, overcoming competition between one another to shape a more autonomous, strategic, and forceful role in defence of their key interests. Europeans can shift the balance of power in the Gulf in their favour and help address key crises by approaching the Gulf through flexible new frameworks based on core coalitions that address specific issues.
  • Topic: International Relations, Regional Cooperation, Geopolitics, Gulf Cooperation Council
  • Political Geography: Europe, Middle East, North Africa, Gulf Nations
  • Author: Tarek Megerisi
  • Publication Date: 06-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Council On Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: Foreign actors have long been an underappreciated driver of conflict in Libya, to the detriment of European and UN policymaking in support of a political solution there. These actors facilitate their Libyan client groups’ belligerence and escalate the conflict through financial, media, and military support. Europe must understand the role of other foreign actors in Libya if it is to prevent the conflict from devolving into an intractable proxy war akin to that in Syria or Yemen. Such a war would destabilise Libya’s neighbours, directly threatening European security interests and global energy markets. Major powers such as the United States and Russia are unwilling or unable to play a constructive or unifying role in Libya, putting the onus on Europeans to lead the effort to reach a solution. This will require European countries to neutralise or co-opt other foreign actors’ partisan support for Libyan groups. It will also require them to establish an inclusive international working group on Libya, using a mixture of incentives and disincentives designed to prevent escalation.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Civil War, United Nations, Geopolitics, Conflict, Proxy War
  • Political Geography: Europe, Libya, North Africa