josh-appel-QsU8GRwyS3k-unsplash

Strategic Analysis 2019: Mashreq, Greater Maghreb, Egypt and Israel

The full report Strategic Analysis 2019: Mashreq, Gran Maghreb, Egypt and Israel by C. Bertolotti is now available

Introduction: factors and challenges in Maghreb and Mashreq areas

The 2011 Arab uprisings’ represents a breaking point announcing the need for a regime overhaul in the region; the consequences of these strong aftershocks still have the potential to undermine the entire Arab state system.
Dramatic changes in the Maghreb and Mashreq area after 2011 underline the need for external actors to forge a new policy approach to address the region’s long-term challenges. In tackling the region’s increasingly intersecting and conflicting politics, aggravated by external interventions, international policy makers should keep their attention on both old and new conflict drivers, or risk fighting symptoms rather than causes, and thus potentially do more harm.

The Arab uprisings underlined the notion that existing conditions in the Maghreb and Mashreq area had become unmaintainable and announced the region-wide expiry of a socioeconomic order that had underwritten relative stability for decades. Today, the grievances that led to the near collapse of the regional order persist, and economic trends paint a bleak picture of further decline. Within the area, political dynamics will continue to feed frustrations among the mass of the population, fueling unrest and outmigration. At the same time, the 2011 uprisings produced a certain momentum for change, and in some places provided new opportunities.

At social level, the countries within the Maghreb and Mashreq area have significant population growth and concentration in a largely challenging environment both physically and in terms of infrastructure and socio-economic development. This means that in many places there is an excess of water food and energy demand over supply. This is particularly the case in areas of extreme population concentration, along rivers and coasts for example, in otherwise dry and climatically challenging environments. Dense populations in a few areas surrounded by vast expanses of virtually uninhabited land create pressures in the concentrated spaces and challenges in governance over the more remote areas.

At economic level, as reported by the World Bank, growth in the Maghreb and Mashreq area is projected to remain subdued, at 1.3 percent. Activity in oil exporters has slowed due to weak oil sector output and the effects of intensified U.S. sanctions on Iran, despite an easing of fiscal stance and positive prospects in non-oil sectors in some countries. Many oil importers continue to benefit from business climate reforms and resilient tourism activity. Regional growth is projected to pick up to around 3 percent a year in 2020-21, supported by capital investment and policy reforms.

Risks to the outlook are tilted to the downside, including geopolitical tensions, reform setbacks, and a further escalation of global trade tensions.

Download the ITA/ENG full report Strategic Analysis 2019: Mashreq, Greater Maghreb, Egypt and Israel, by C. Bertolotti (pdf version)
Download the ITA/ENG full report Strategic Analysis 2019: Mashreq, Greater Maghreb, Egypt and Israel, by C. Bertolotti (eBook ePubb versio

SUMMARY

Introduction: factors and challenges in Maghreb and Mashreq areas

Algeria. Instabilità politica: tra opposizione e repressione

Main events
The political consequences of the mass protests
Who will succeed to Bouteflika?
Analysis, assessments and forecasts

Libya: Turkey’s strategic interest and the military support to Islamists. Russian expansion in Libya

Main events
The siege of Tripoli and the activism of the Libyan “Islamic State”
The political front
The military front
Turkish activism in support to Islamists: between financial interests and military aid
Turkey’s activism in Misurata and the bombing of the airport hosting the Italian contingent
Italian military presence in Misrata
As the competition for the Libyan oil assets becomes harsher, the Italian interests are affected
Russian expansion in Libya

Syria. “Peace spring”: the third Turkish military operation in Syria. The weakening of the Kurdish-Syrian YPG and the death of Abu Bakr al Baghdadi

Main events
“Peace spring”, October 9-23
Conflict history: the battlefield moves to the border
The US-Turkey and Russia-Turkey agreements. US flexibility and strengthening of the Moscow-Ankara axis
Analysis, assessments and forecasts

Tunisia. A new political balance after Béji Caïd Essebsi?

Main events
The legacy of Béji Caïd Essebsi
Political dynamics
Security concerns
Analysis, assessment and forecasts

Israel. Political uncertainty and attacks by the “Palestinian Islamic Jihad” group

Main events
The terrorist “Palestinian Islamic Jihad” group attacked Israel after the death of one of its leaders

Egypt. Popular protests do not weaken the government
Main events

Lebanon. Popular protests force the prime minister to resign

Main events

Morocco: new approach to combating terrorism and greater security efforts

Main events
The strategic priorities and the pillars
Fighting regional terrorism
Broadening the scope of defense to include security challenges
Morocco wants women, minors held in Iraq, Syria to come home
BCIJ Discovers Hideout of Dismantled, IS-linked Terror Cell

Consequences, risks and opportunities of oil price changes in the Maghreb and Mashreq countries

Impact on major North African oil producers

Impact on Morocco, the major North African fuel importer

Military expenditure in the Maghreb and Mashreq areas: different trends

 

Download the ITA/ENG full report Strategic Analysis 2019: Mashreq, Gran Maghreb, Egypt and Israel, by C. Bertolotti, (pdf version)
Download the ITA/ENG full report Strategic Analysis 2019: Mashreq, Gran Maghreb, Egypt and Israel, by C. Bertolotti (eBook ePubb version)


Main events in Maghreb and Mashreq – July

by Claudio Bertolotti

original article in “Osservatorio Strategico” – Ce.Mi.S.S.: english versionitalian version

Israel and Egypt

Israel will begin exporting natural gas to Egypt in November, with volumes eventually set to reach seven billion cubic metres a year. The supplies will mark the start of a $15bn export agreement between Israel’s Delek Drilling and US-based partner Noble Energy with an Egyptian counterpart in what Israeli officials called the most significant deal to emerge since the neighbours made peace in 1979. The deal signed early last year will bring natural gas from Israeli offshore fields Tamar and Leviathan into the Egyptian gas grid.

Lebanon

Possible dispute between President Michel Aoun and Prime Minister Saad Hariri over referring the shooting of two members of the Lebanese Democratic Party in the Druze area of Aley to a senior Judicial Council. The political repercussions of the deadly event have paralyzed government at a critical moment and risk complicating efforts to enact reforms needed to steer the heavily indebted state away from financial crisis.

Syria

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his country is determined to destroy “to pieces” what he called a “terror corridor” in northern Syria – regardless of whether or not Turkey and the United States agree on the establishment of a safe zone. Ankara wants a zone along the border with Syria that would be cleared of the Kurdish fighters. It also says such a zone would be safe for Syrians and allow some of the country’s refugees to return. Turkey has warned of a possible new offensive into Syria if an agreement on a safe zone is not reached, and has recently been sending reinforcements to its border area.

Algeria

Protesters remain in Algeria’s streets, having forced President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s resignation in April. In this uncertain transition period, important questions face two groups key to Algeria’s political future: protesters and military personnel. According to a new Brookings institute report – titled “Algeria’s uprising: A survey of protesters and the military” – the results show a wide support for change among protesters, while illustrating a divide between the upper and lower ranks of the Algerian military in support for the protest movement. While 80% of the lower ranks support the goals and continuation of the protests, “the senior officers, by contrast, are a bit more hesitant, [as] only 60% are saying that they support the protests”.

Morocco

In his speech for this year’s Throne Day on 30th of July, Moroccan king Mohammed VI announced new development programs and a government reshuffle for domestic policy. For foreign policy, he called again for dialogue with Algeria and for ”unity among North African populations”. As concerns the Western Sahara, Morocco’s position remains ”firmly anchored to territorial integrity”. To celebrate his 20 years as king, Mohammed VI pardoned 4,764 detainees, including some detainees for terrorism.

Libya

Libya’s national oil company has suspended operations at the country’s largest oil field over the “unlawful” closure of a pipeline valve. The National Oil Corporation announced the move without saying who was behind the closure of the pipeline linking the Sharara oilfield to the port of Zawiya, on the Mediterranean coast. The Sharara oil field, which produces around 290,000 barrels a day worth $19 million, is controlled by forces loyal to Khalifa Hifter, head of the so-called Libyan National Army which launched an offensive in April to capture the capital.

Tunisia

President Béji Caïd Essebsi died the 25th of July at the age of 92. The interim, the president of the Parliament, Mohamed Ennaceur (85 years old), took over the position of head of state. The elections will take place on September 15. Institutional and economic crisis and jihadist threat: Essebsi’s death occurs in a period of potential destabilization for the North African country.