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Research Report

North Africa:: New Challenges, Old Regimes, and Regional Security

Claire Spencer
Copyright Date: Nov. 1, 2008
Pages: 24

Table of Contents

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  1. (pp. None)
  2. (pp. None)
  3. (pp. i-ii)
    Terje Rød-Larsen

    IPI is pleased to introduce a new series of working papers on regional capacities to respond to security challenges in Africa. The broad range of United Nations, African Union, and subregional peacekeeping, peacemaking, and peacebuilding initiatives in Africa underscore a new sense of multilayered partnership in the search for the peaceful resolution of conflicts in Africa. As the total number of conflicts on the continent has been significantly reduced in the past decade, there is widespread recognition of the opportunities for a more stable and peaceful future for Africa. But there is also a profound awareness of the fragility of...

  4. (pp. 1-2)

    North Africa is often loosely defined, but for the purposes of this paper, it encompasses the states of the Arab Maghreb Union (Algeria, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, and Tunisia) together with Egypt.¹ With the exception of Mauritania, this group of states lies on the northern littoral of the African continent, between the Mediterranean Sea to the north and the Sahara to the south. This contiguity, however, has not automatically made for a cohesive region; differences between political and economic trajectories have overridden the social solidarities that still unite the peoples of North Africa.

    The core regional states of Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia,...

  5. (pp. 2-9)

    There are a number of reasons why North Africa may be on the verge of a more seismic shift from the context and factors which have shaped the independent existence of North African states over the past half century. The key prescriptions of the last forty years have remained remarkably stable until now, and have shaped the narrowly defined and guarded parameters of the official state apparatus. However, the very durability of these systems raises questions about the capacity and preparedness of regional elites to address the multifaceted consequences of excluding public participation in the past. The hope that belated...

  6. (pp. 10-13)

    The key question facing most of the region’s regimes over the next few years concerns their ability to manage smooth succession processes. The region’s template was the smooth succession of King Mohammed VI of Morocco, following the death of his father, King Hassan II, in 1999. For the presidencies, and Muammar Qaddafi’s role as the “guide” of the Libyan republic since 1969, the legitimizing role of a dynastic monarchy has had to be replaced by other means. With no precedent for the transfer of power to draw on, President Hosni Mubarak (in power since 1981) has been preparing the ground...

  7. (pp. 13-15)

    The range of scenarios set out below reflects the likelihood any of the pressures outlined above will act as a critical catalyst on its own, or in conjunction with several others. The interrelated nature of challenges would suggest that the continuing economic prosperity for all but Mauritania will not be sufficient on its own to alleviate risks to security, particularly in terms of “human security.” This is because public expectations now have to be managed across a number of fields, in addition to overall living standards. In many ways, with the advent of modern technologies, the genie is out of...

  8. (pp. 15-16)

    The risks of violent change and upheaval, especially where few safety nets exist to offset or contain them, are real, and pose significant concerns over the longer-term prospects for stability. In regional terms, regime survival has hitherto been based on dynastic succession (Morocco, Libya, and arguably Tunisia) or the exclusive control of state institutions and key sectors of the economy (by the military and security hierarchy in Egypt, Algeria, and Mauritania). Alternatives to these systems have failed to make inroads through official channels, despite the formal adoption by most regional governments of political reforms and electoral processes. The failure of...

  9. (pp. 17-17)
  10. (pp. 18-18)