A forum devoted to current political, economic trends, and news of the Maghreb region.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Shari'a and Militancy

A must-read on Sharia and political Islam. Johnson relies on the latest Gallup poll 2008 results which indicates a new understanding of how Muslims view Shari'a, not as a corpus of legal codes promoting theocracy, but good governance. Shari'a has become a manifesto for liberating Muslims from corrupt governments. The challenge remains in chaotic regions, where there is a power vacuum, such as Northwestern Pakistan and Somalia, where tribal leaders have perverted Quranic and Hadithic texts to suit their fossilized view of the religion.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

AQMI in the Maghreb

Another piece in the North Africa Journal on the ever increasing and present threat of AQMI in the region. AQMI has for some time now extended its operations to the Sahara region threatening state interests and tourists in Niger, Mali, Burkina Faso and Chad. This is perhaps where most of the International support should lie, as it threatens the stability of the region and gives more ammunition to local regimes in their pursuit for anti-democratic policies.

Post-Election analysis in Algeria

A thought-provoking analysis of the recent re-election of Bouteflika in Algeria, which is perpetuating a cycle of authoritarianism in the country.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Bouteflika's Triumph

At the heels of Bouteflika's much anticipated electoral victory (90% of cast vote according to the Ministry of the Interior), Jacob Mundy sketches a portrait of the rise of Bouteflika in Algeria and his total control of all things political. Mundy argues that Bouteflika's style is much like that of his mentor Houari Boumedienne, in its commitment to heavy state interventionism in the economy and a hawkish foreign policy.

Why the Maghreb matters

A new report by the Potomac Institute and SAIS offers a fresh new outlook on why the Maghreb matters with international system. The future relevance of the region is intrinsically linked to a successful resolution of the Western Sahara conflict through the new Morocco plan. The region cannot be ignored by the International community especially within the context of the global threat of terrorism. Terrorist acts have increased in the MAghreb as the report suggests, and it is incumbent upon the U.S. to assist the countries in the region in combatting this threat. Economically, the U.S. should also seek engagement of the region through a broader Maghreb-US-EU partnership that would further economic growth and political reforms.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

A Renewed Interest on North Africa

Interesting article in the Christian Science Monitor about the upcoming list of electoral contests in the Maghreb in 2009. Algeria is having its one sided presidential elections this week, Morocco is undergoing municipal elections in June and Tunisia is holding general elections in October. However, as Dana Moss observes, these elections are not indicative of the region's electoral competitiveness, but to the extreme careful regime manipulation of the political systems. Moss also points out to the uneven U.S. strategy towards the region, as it continues to support Morocco through an $110 million assistance strategy plan, while ignoring Algeria and Tunisia's rising socio-economic problems.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Diplomes Chomeurs

Morocco's unemployed graduate movement Diplomes Chomeurs have intensified their protests in the hopes of pressuring the government to make more jobs available in the public sector. Authorities said they are doing the best they can to remedy the crisis. The movement is threatening suicide as a reaction to the perceived inadequate efforts by the government to alleviate their plight.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Let's not Ignore the Maghreb

While the Middle East continues to be the focus of scholarly and policy attention, the Maghreb is not to be forgotten as an area of geo-strategic importance for the U.S. Claude Salhani reminds us of the Maghreb's potential worth for U.S. foreign policy making.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Algeria's Presidential Elections

Ahmed Aghrout and Yahia Zoubir assess the implications of the October 2008 constitutional reforms for Algeria's April 9 presidential election. The election is likely to produce no change to the power structure in the country, dominated by the Bouteflika's FLN and the military brass.