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North African Jihadism and the Post-Mali Conflict Environment

I actually don’t have time to focus on my blog (people who know 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)

The EU and the Mediterranean: Between ambitions and shortcomings

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

L’Egitto e i suoi Fratelli

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

Mali, Foreign Intervention, Algeria

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.

Recent articles: MOJWA/AQIM and the EU and Mali’s coup

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.

How experts see 2012..

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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