Posts Tagged ‘Arab Spring’

I actually don’t have time to focus on my blog (people knowing me have a clue why). However, two weeks ago I published another piece with the Jamestown Foundation on the directions in North African Jihadism in the post-Mali conflict environment:

The French-led intervention in Mali changed the strategic environment of the region. For AQIM and other jihadist groups operating in the area, the intervention had several consequences: they had to move elsewhere, reducing their presence in northern Mali, redefine smuggling routes and re-acquire the mobility they partially lost when they started controlling northern Mali. This makes the regional threat more mobile, liquid and fragmented while reducing its actual political impact… (to continue reading click here)

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Next week (Tuesday 28 May), I will be talking at  İstanbul 29 Mayis Üniversitesi in Uskudar (about 20 minutes walking distance from the Metrobus stop “Altunizade”) about EU foreign policy in the Mediterranean. All welcome!

EU Mediterranean

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Da questo mese, Limes diventa mensile e inaugura la serie dei numeri mensili con un volume dedicato all’Egitto e alla Fratellanza musulmanaLimes - Egitto e i suoi fratelli

Su questo numero ci sono due articoli miei: uno sul Sinai e la problematica proiezione di sovranità del Cairo su questo spazio “chiave” ma storicamente riluttante al controllo degli “Africani della Valle del Nilo” e un altro scritto con la collega della LUISS Meryem Akabouch sui percorsi politici della Fratellanza Musulmana in Algeria e Marocco: alg mar

Se avete commenti o critiche potere come al solito scrivermi a mediterraneaneye [at] gmail [dot] com

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My latest article for the Jamestown Foundation:

The attack on the gas facility at In Amenas highlighted two major problems that will rise to the top of the Algerian government’s policy agenda over the next few weeks:

  • Although Algeria is the strongest of the states of the Maghreb/Sahel region, the length of its borders and the turbulence of its neighbors (Libya and Tunisia in the east, Mali to the south) make it difficult to fully control all of its frontiers.
  • The attack at In Aménas will represent a psychological deterrent to some foreign oil companies to upgrade facilities or invest in Algeria for some time. Therefore, the need to strengthen domestic security and border controls will become a security priority, making a direct military engagement in Mali more difficult and problematic. 

As long as AQIM and its affiliates were operating “horizontally” in the Sahelian strip, with their bases in northern Mali, that situation remained acceptable to Algiers because it was not perceived as a structural threat to the state. However, the In Aménas attack will likely push Algeria to focus even more on the security of its borders and its domestic environment. Although the military involvement of Algeria in the Malian conflict cannot be completely ruled out, above all if the French intervention should prove to be less effective than thought, direct engagement still remains extremely improbable.

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My latest paper for the Global Governance Institute can be found here

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Hello folks,

in March 2013 I will direct, together with my Egyptian colleague Nesreen K. El Molla, one of the workshops of the 14th Mediterranean Research Meeting, the annual gathering on Mediterranean affairs organized by the Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies of the European University Institute. The 2013 edition will be organized in collaboration with Mersin University (Turkey) and will be held in the city of Mersin from 20 to 23 March 2013. Mersin is a wonderful place on the Mediterranean coast of Southern Turkey. I have been there once and is a lovely place to visit. Moreover, it is very close to other very nice places in Turkey, such as Adana, Silifke and Tarsus and the overall area is worth a visit.

The workshop will focus on EU Democracy Promotion and the Arab Spring. Papers are welcome from scholars as well as practitioners who are interested in these topics and to get engaged in a network of like-minded peers.

Key dates:

  • The deadline for submitting the paper proposal: 15 September 2012. More details on the selection process can be found here.
  • Communication of acceptance by : 1 October 2012
  • Final version of the paper due by: 15 February 2013
  • Mediterranean Research Meeting: 20 – 23 March 2013

For more information, our contacts are:
Nesreen K. El Molla, Cairo University, Egypt: nelmolla@hotmail.com
Dario Cristiani, King’s College London, United Kingdom – Global Governance Institute , Belgium: dario.cristiani@kcl.ac.uk

We look forward to receive your abstracts. Feel free to get in touch if you have any question.

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Atlantic Community is one of the most lively and interesting websites dealing with transatlantic and security issues. Recently, it has published a very interesting policy memo made of the five best submissions for Atlantic-community.org’s “Your Ideas, Your NATO” policy workshop competition. The papers were written by Alexander Corbeil, Geoffrey Levin, Vivien Pertusot, Josiah Surface and my valuable MEMS PhD colleague Gillian Kennedy.

To read the full paper, click here. Below you can find the introduction to the memo.


Partners in Democracy, Partners in Security: NATO and the Arab Spring, MEMO 39, Atlantic Community.
The Arab Spring has created significant challenges and unprecedented opportunities for NATO and its partners in the Mediterranean region. New security issues have emerged alongside new regimes and regional instability looms. State failure, civil conflict, and institutional collapse could present a number of major security threats, among them the creation of a refugee crisis affecting NATO members, increased illegal arms trafficking, and a breeding ground for militant groups in a Somali-like setting near European shores.

These threats highlight the need for NATO to set up a plan for fostering regional stability and developing good relations with new and emerging leaders. The changing nature of regional security and Arab governance demands a multi-faceted approach which requires NATO to draw on expertise beyond its own, especially in empowering civil society and youth groups that are the cornerstone of sustainable democracy.

Such new challenges require new partnerships and this memo intends to convey two core recommendations: restructure the Mediterranean Dialogue (MD) to allow for a more incentivized and effective partnership, and partner with other institutional actors to enable NATO to offer a more comprehensive assistance package. NATO should play to its strengths while working with organizations that specialize in other tasks that are necessary to meet these goals. Only robust partnerships will allow NATO to meet these security needs in a time of greater fiscal austerity.


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Caught in the “crossfire” of PhD thesis writing (the hardest task is to start writing after doing researches for years but when you start, then you can’t get enough) and several different projects ranging from academic stuff to policy oriented works, time is running fast. Between April and May, I will publish several articles concerning security developments in North Africa and the Mediterranean. The first two were released recently.

One, for the Jamestown Foundation, deals with the emergence of MOJWA in West Africa.

Marking a clear dividing line between conjecture and factual evidence is always particularly troublesome when dealing with the jihadist phenomenon in this region. According to the claim made by MOJWA, it differs from AQIM in strategic priorities, internal organization and ideological foundations. The attack in Tamanrasset and the non-Algerian leadership are consistent with this claim. The real question is whether this group has truly severed itself from AQIM, representing a potential regional competitor in both in the jihadist domain and more mundane smuggling activities, or is it simply another sub-group of the already internally fragmented AQIM, working more specifically in the territories of western Africa?

The second one was published last week by the Global Governance Institute and was written with my valuable colleagues Joy Alemazung and Dustin Dehez. The topic is a very “hot one” in my opinion, as it deals with the partial failures and problems the EU is experiencing in the Sahelian region, above all in the wake of Mali’s coup.

The next steps forward: a series of articles dealing with: Libya; AQIM (with a specific focus on maritime issues); EU in the Mediterranean, Sahelian and Maghrebi security. Stay tuned.

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A collection of links on the major developments in North Africa (3-10 March 2012)

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2012 is going to be a rather important year for global politics, as there will be: presidential elections in the U.S., Russia and France; a leadership transition in China; the evolution/involution of the Arab Spring; the challenges faced by the Euro Zone and much more (North Korea, Afghanistan, etc etc). It is always interesting, at the beginning of every new year, to read and listen what experts say on the major challenges of the coming year and that what I usually do (at least since I have started dealing with this field….). Following, a list of articles and ideas on what we should watch out in 2012:

The Eurasia Group Top Risks 2012 Report and the take of Ian Bremmer:

The 2012 Perspectives of RUSI, with a video by Professor Michael Clarke, RUSI Director General:

An interview with Nader Mousavizadeh, CEO of Oxford Analytica, and his take in a video by Reuters:

The point of Fareed Zakaria, one of current leading American thinkers (and in my opinion also one of the most brilliant: his “The Future of Freedom” is one of those books that every political scientist should read at least once in his life);

and, last but not least, the map from the Political Risk Atlas of Maplecroft.

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Published a few days ago, my assessment on the threats from Al Qaeda against Algeria and the Algerian resilience to the Arab Spring for the Jamestown Foundation.

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2011 marks 30 years since the establishment of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), the organisation made up of the six Arab monarchies of the Gulf region. Originally a geopolitical response to the Khomeinistic revolution and the following Iran-Iraq war, it became then a more integrate and cohesive regional bloc, although the process of integration has developed very slowly, characterised by latent political splits.

The Arab Spring gave a new political lifeblood to the GCC as it became a sort of conservative bastion of stability against revolution: with the direct Saudi intervention in Bahrain, a member state, and the opening to the possibility for Jordan and Morocco to join the organisation, although they are not Gulf Countries at all from a geographical point of view. Bahrain called also on Egypt to join the GCC.

In this proposed enlargement of the geographical scope of the organisation, all the very geopolitical conceptual roots of the GCC are visible: bringing together all the monarchies against the revolutionary movements in the wider region , recalling its original anti-revolutionary rationale, and the geopolitical obsession to contain Iranian power, and it is not a case that Bahrain sponsors Egypt as new member of the GCC. Egypt is the most important Arab power from a geopolitical point of view and bringing Cairo in the GCC will be an enormous geopolitical asset to contain and counterbalance Tehran, above all considered that Iran will be the main beneficiary of the announced American withdrawal from Iraq and will likely increase its influence in this space, fundamental for the geopolitical balances of the entire region given its geographical and historical centrality.

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In the country where all started, people have begun to vote in the first election of the Arab Spring. 4.4 million voters, 11000 candidates, 80 political parties: fragmentation seems to be one a main characteristic of these post-revolt (or revolution, according to your preferences….) countries, as also Egypt is experiencing this process of, let’s stay, extreme political particularisation and Libya will likely follow the same path (although in a more violent fashion, I fear…).  As I said a few months ago, Tunisia is the frontrunner among the countries that experienced these revolts and this vote shows that once again. Tunisia has also the best social fundamentals among the countries of the Arab Spring to start and pursue a realistic transition towards a more liberal-democratic order. However, starting a transition does not entail automatically that its “political landing” will be an effective liberal-democracy: what in the literature on Democratisations and Transitions is known as reverse wave is always around the corner and consolidation remains the most critical stage of every democratisation process.

More on the Tunisian elections, in French and English: La Presse de Tunisie, Al Jazeera, Reuters, Jeune Afrique, Le Monde, BBC, The Economist, 20minutes.fr, Le Parisien, El Moudjahid, RFI, El Watan.

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