This is the first issue of the Med Eye Mediterranean Security Roundup, presenting a number of analyses and perspectives highlighting critical issues for the future of security in the area. In this issue, the focus is on the broader North Africa region, Iraq and Syria.
“Les généraux ouvrent la succession du président Abdelaziz Bouteflika” (Orient XXI, 12 July 2018). In 2019, Algeria will hold Presidential elections. If President Abdelaziz Bouteflika runs, he will win, no matter how ill he is. However, in any case, Algeria is about to enter a complicated transitional period that will result in a number of structural changes to its informal power structure, the so-called ‘le Pouvoir’. The recent dismissal of the powerful head of the DGSN (Directeur Général de la Sûreté Nationale), Abdelghani Hamel, can be considered the beginning of the – behind the scene – infighting between members of the Pouvoir to prepare their positions in the wake of the transition.
“The fight against Islamic State is moving to Africa” (The Economist, 14 July 2018). While the Islamic State (IS) crumbles in its formers strongholds in Iraq and Syria, Africa is increasingly becoming a crucial battlefield for radical Jihadism, with groups linked to Al-Qaeda and IS flourishing, a nascent global threat similar to that posed by the Talibans in Afghanistan in 1993, fuelled by local grievances.
“Open arms and closed doors: IS members’ families face hard return home” (Middle East Eye, 15 July). Families of IS fighters return to al-Tanaq, in Mosul, fearing reprisal and punishment, but locals instead help them reintegrating in their old neighbourhood, fighting the dynamics of exclusions now characterising other former IS strongholds in Iraq.
“Quelle menace représente la brigade Okba Ibn Nafaâ” (Les Temps, 11 July 2018). Oqba Ibn Nafaa, the Tunisian offshoot of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), has officially claimed responsibility for the attack that killed nine members of the Tunisian Security forces in Aïn Soltane. The group has returned to strike in Tunisia after months of military pressure, resulting in the killing of a number of its leaders. However, while dangerous, the group does not represent a structural threat to the Tunisian state.
“احتجاجات وتوتر أمني بطرابلس بشأن تكليف الطرابلسي رئيسا لجهاز الأمن العام” (Libya Akhbar, 8 July 2018). Tripoli’s militias protested against the appointment of Emad Trabelsi, leader of the Zintani’s al-Sawaiq Brigade, as the new chief of the General Security Service in Tripoli. Trabelsi is considered close to the Libyan National Army of Khalifa Haftar, who is still regarded as the most significant enemy from many of the militias controlling the Libyan capital.
“Fatah seeks to rekindle ties with Syrian regime” (Al Monitor, 15 July 2018). As the relations between Hamas and the Syrian regime remain strained, despite Hamas’s attempts to restore some of the pre-civil war ties. The Syrian government is now eyeing to strengthen its relations with al-Fatah. A party delegation led by Azzam al-Ahmad arrived in Damascus to discuss regional developments, bilateral relations, the situation of Palestinian refugees in Syria. This is the last of a number of visits and meetings that Al-Fatah members had with Syrian authorities over the past months.
“Israel Strikes Three Syrian Army Positions in Response to Drone Infiltration” (Haarezt, 12 July 2018) In response to an alleged Syrian drone that infiltrated Israeli airspace on 11 July, Israel’s air force shot down the drone and attacked three military positions in Syria, hitting Hezbollah positions in the Quneitra province on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights. As Bashar keeps strengthening his domestic position, tension with Israel remains high amid the presence of Iranian and Hezbollah fighters in Syria, and will remain so in the coming months.