North Africa

  • The Gulf Crisis Threatens Tunisia’s Stability

    Qatar is one of Tunisia’s most important trade partners. It has invested, loaned, or assisted Tunisia with more than 1.5 billion USD since 2011, and has directed its media, think-tanks, and PR empire to acclaim the country’s transition to democracy. Thousands of Tunisians work in Qatar, and the current Gulf crisis has allowed a number of Tunisian businessmen to profit from the besieged peninsula by exporting industrial products, and even establishing factories there.

    Read More
  • Hellyer Quoted in Reuters on Attack on Police in Egypt’s Western Desert


    Read More
  • Can Libya Put the Cart Before the Horse?

    In the wake of the Security Council’s renewal of the United Nations (UN) mission in Libya (UNSMIL) in September, a sequel to UN-led mediation efforts directed by a new Special Representative of the Secretary General is underway in Libya. It once again hopes to reach an agreement among the main actors of the Libyan crisis while guaranteeing the will of the Libyan people to reject authoritarianism and realize a pluralistic political system respectful of human rights and individual liberties. The script follows a familiar pattern: a UN roadmap that paves the way for a grand elections finale. But the deadlock in Libya and the dynamics since the onset of the political crisis may require more unorthodox thinking and counterintuitive solutions.

    Read More
  • Libya’s Warring Parties Play a Dangerous Game Working with Madkhali Salafists

    The current fight against the Islamic State (ISIS, IS, Daesh) and Salafi jihadis in Libya should not distract from other Salafi groups in Benghazi and Tripoli that are spreading and enforcing anti-democractic and illiberal views and practices. The Madkhali Salafist-inspired groups are slowly gaining ground via both the al-Tawhid Brigades in the east under Field Marshal Hafter’s umbrella, and the Rada forces in the west that support the UN-sponsored Presidential Council. Both strands adopt an ideology that grants the ruler unquestioned authority, is intolerable to opposing views, and encourages the use of force against opponents. Such negative stances on elections and separation of power put Libya’s political process at risk. 

    Read More
  • Tunisia, the West, and the 'Arab Spring'

    Although Tunisia is still seen favorably in Washington, the US is unlikely to be its savior. No matter how much Washington reflects on Tunisia as a successful democratic transition, the mood in the US capital will not lead to large amounts of aid to magically fix Tunisia’s security and economic woes. Only by looking to itself can Tunisia complete its democratic transition.

    Read More
  • Tunisia’s Democracy: Between Economic Reform and Public Engagement

    Tunisia’s transition to democracy is in a difficult spot: the public is frustrated with the political and economic situation, but the political elite are shying away from needed public engagement. Two recent events stand out: the 2018 draft budget law put forward this month and the recent postponement of the local elections to next year. By postponing the elections, Tunisian politicians forwent an opportunity to engage the citizenry at a time when that dialogue will be critical—as the government begins to implement economic reforms that are expected to grow its economy, changes will also bring layoffs and tax hikes to a population already largely dissatisfied with its government’s performance.

    Read More
  • Hellyer Quoted in The Gazette on Crackdown of Egyptian Sexual Orientation Regulations


    Read More
  • The UK’s Balancing Act between Security, Financial Interest, and Human Rights

    The United Kingdom has long employed a carrot and stick technique when dealing with Egypt, threatening to suspend aid and economic or military dealings in response to the country’s deteriorating human rights situation. However, such ultimatums are often fleeting, as the UK government places its own short-term interests over improvements in Egypt’s human rights record. The risk, though, is that this undermines the human rights situation in Egypt, and by doing so could worsen the security situation in the long run.

    Read More
  • Women’s Rights in Morocco: Balancing Domestic and International Law

    Despite Morocco’s many legal advances in women’s rights, its lack of effective implementation and the existence of legislative loopholes undermines its reputation as an open, tolerant, and progressive country. In recent months, Morocco’s human rights record has come under the scrutiny of international organizations, notably the UN Human Rights Council latest UPR. Morocco’s questionable human rights—and specifically, women’s rights—abuses are a liability to its role as a US ally, a relationship that offers trade, investment, military, and diplomatic benefits to the nation.

    Read More
  • The Limits of Democratization in Morocco

    The demonstrations, police repression, and continued violence in al-Hoceima in the northern Rif region of Morocco bring back not only the rebellious past of that region, but also memories among Moroccans of Hassan II’s repression—the so-called years of lead. The events also bring the country full circle back to the beginning of the Arab uprising of 2011 when optimists viewed Mohammed VI’s reasoned reaction to the February 20 uprising as a sign that Morocco had indeed taken a different path from the one taken by the fallen leaders of Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen and the still standing one in Syria.

    Read More