North Africa

  • Tunisian Civil Society’s Unmistakable Role in Keeping the Peace

    Seven years after the autocrat Zine El Abidine Ben-Ali fled, Tunisia civil society today is best characterized by its sheer courage. It is not blind, blunt courage, but sharp and calculated. What started as a popular movement of individuals taking to the streets to kick out a dictator slowly self-organized into non-profit organizations and political parties. Around 11,400 civil society organizations (CSO’s) formed after the revolution in 2011. These organizations work on everything from governance and accountability in the public sector, such as Al Bawsala, to protecting minority rights, such as Mnemty. Luckily, and unlike the government, these organizations exist all over the country too. I-Watch, another CSO, works to combat corruption in all four corners of Tunisia, and has several offices throughout the country. As protests break out to address economic woes, it’s important to remember that the development and evolution of CSOs in Tunisia since the 2011 revolution continues to play a vital role in the democratization of the state, and represents a foundational pillar in Tunisian society.

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  • Tunisia 2018: Permanent Mobilization or Return to the Past?

    The riots that have occurred in many Tunisian cities and villages at the beginning of 2018 have caught by surprise many experts and observers of Tunisia’s political and socio-economic evolution. Tunisia has been presented to the world as the only success story in the framework of the so-called Arab Spring. Unfortunately, judging it as a success is premature and ignores the country’s situation and the depth of its problems. 

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  • What’s Next? Seven Years After Tunisia’s Spring

    Seven years after the 2011 Arab uprisings, Tunisia remains the only country to have emerged from the sweeping changes that took hold in the region as a fledgling democracy. Since then-President Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali stepped down from power of January 14, 2011, Tunisia has accomplished a number of major successes, including holding free and fair national elections, fostering political compromise, implementing reforms to institute equal protection for men and women under the law, and making progress on freedoms of expression and belief. Economic challenges and political setbacks, however, could upset Tunisia’s advances.

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  • Lilley Quoted in Foreign Policy on Egypt-Sudan Spat


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  • Freeze Assets to Halt the War in Libya

    In yet another attempt to resolve Libya’s war, on September 20, the United Nations presented a new Action Plan for Libya, supposedly to form a legitimate, functioning, and unified government. But this Action Plan will also fall short of what is needed to end this crisis because it misses a key point: it focuses on producing a government all belligerent parties can agree on, without understanding the financial situation behind the crisis. The UN and the international community should not be narrowly focused on producing a legitimate government that satisfies all the rival groups, but rather should focus on supporting the government’s ability to exercise its power to improve the people’s lives. The crisis in Libya is not a government legitimacy problem, it is a government effectiveness problem. And how can a government be effective when it does not even control its own finances?

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  • The Re-Emergence of Jund al-Islam: A New Chapter in the Conflict Between al-Qaeda and ISIS

    After a more than four-year absence, Jund al-Islam (JAI) has returned to the forefront in Sinai, marking a new chapter in the fierce conflict between al-Qaeda and the Islamic State (Daesh, ISIL, ISIS). The group published an audio recording in which it took credit for an attack targeting ISIS affiliates in Sinai known as Wilayat Sinai (WS). Jund al-Islam deemed them Kharitjitesor those that defected from the group, and demanded that WS leaders turn themselves in. This attack raises many questions related to the sudden timing of Jund al-Islam’s emergence, its relationship with al-Qaeda, and the likely impact of the renewal of old hostilities between Wilayat Sinai and Jund al-Islam.

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  • Factbox: The Western Sahara and its Path Towards a Referendum

    The Western Sahara is a region controlled by the Moroccan government for the past thirty-five years. It has long fostered the idea of a referendum while Morocco has publicly discouraged bids for independence. The Catalan referendum has bolstered the Western Sahara cause while standing as an example for Morocco of the possible repercussions: protests, violence, and overall fragmentation by the Spanish government and now-ousted Catalan president Carles Puigdemont illustrate the dangerous potential for Morocco’s ongoing tension with the Western Sahara region it controls. What is the history of the Western Sahara and what is its relationship with Morocco? How close is it really to a referendum?

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  • Why Does Vladimir Putin Care About Sudan?

    Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir and Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed an interest in deepening ties between their two countries when they met in Sochi, Russia, on November 23.   

    Besides stating his intention to deepen Sudan’s economic and military ties with Russia, Bashir hailed Russia’s military intervention in Syria and expressed gratitude for the Kremlin’s “position in the protection of Sudan.” Russian officials stated their intention to deepen Russian-Sudanese trade, specifically in the agricultural and energy sectors, and said Moscow considers Sudan a key partner in Africa.

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  • Lilley Quoted in the National on the New US-Sudan Openness


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  • Out of the Streets and Into the Boats: Tunisia’s Irregular Migration Surge

    Normally, the beaches of southern Tunisia are quiet in November. It is the start of the lean months, when few tourists arrive and the jobs which depend on them vanish. This year is different. Tunisia’s beaches have a new customer: Tunisians trying to go to Europe

    Between October 1st and November 8th, more Tunisians took to the seas than in 2015 and 2016 combined, with Italy and Tunisia detaining 4,709. In total, more than 8,700 Tunisian migrants have been caught by Italy and Tunisia in 2017. There are suspicionsthis represents only a fraction of those who have left.

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