Karim Mezran

  • Algeria Protests: More of the Same or Real Change?

    The continued protests and potential leadership change in Algeria do not constitute a “big popular revolt against the regime,” according to Karim Mezran, a resident senior fellow in the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East, but rather “a de facto demand of change of personnel.” Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika announced on March 11 that he would not be running for a fifth term as president, but also said that elections slated for April will be delayed.

    Bouteflika has ruled the North African country since 1999 and the eighty-two-year-old has had few public appearances since a suffering a stroke in 2013. Frustrations with Bouteflika’s rule and economic conditions have spurred mass demonstrations in Algeria since the end of February.


    Read More
  • Algerian Demonstrations: What They Mean for the Future of the Elite and the Country

    Read in Arabic here. Algerian elites are missing a Leopardian moment. Giuseppe Tomasi Di Lampedusa’s masterpiece, the Leopard—which has become a staple of political science—, expresses the intrinsic idea that elites must change in order to remain elites. In the book, the old baron reprimanded his nephew because he joined forces that landed under the revolutionary general Garibaldi to overthrow exactly the system that constituted the elite to which they belonged. The answer of the nephew was “if we want that everything remains as is, it is necessary that everything changes.” He had to join the revolutionary forces in a commanding position in order to effect change in the system, but preserve their family’s power in the new elite system.


    Read More
  • Exploiting the Achievements of the Libyan Political Agreement

    The conference on Libya held in Palermo, Italy last November saw neither the rising of a new dawn in terms of security and political consensus nor the development of a strong agreement around a well-defined plan. Instead, what emerged was the reiteration by all the Libyan and European delegations of their support for the actions of the United Nations Special Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) and a vague definition of a roadmap to a solution to the country’s crisis. In other words, there were minimum results but results nonetheless.


    Read More
  • Our Holiday Reading List

    We asked our community of experts for a list of books they would recommend for the holidays. Whether you like to read from cover to cover or between the lines, we have you covered.
    Read More
  • Libya, the US, and the Palermo Conference

    Key Libyan and international stakeholders will meet in Palermo, Italy, on November 12 to discuss and, hypothetically, draft a plan to deal with the political crisis in Libya. Main Libyan actors from the east—strongman Khalifa Haftar and president of the House of Representatives (HoR), Ageela Salah—as well as the west—prime minister of the United Nations (UN)-backed Government of National Accord (GNA), Fayez al-Serraj, and head of the High State Council, Khalid al-Mishri—are supposed to attend. The heads of state of the United States, France, Germany, and Russia have been invited: none have confirmed their attendance. The United States should send Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

    Read More
  • Gadhafi’s Libya and the Importance of Not Shunning the Past

    On October 20, 2011, the death of Libya’s longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi at the hands of rebels in his hometown of Sirte put an end to the revolution that erupted in February of that year, and ushered in a new political and military elite. This new leadership was supposed to guide Libya through a transitional period that would lead to the establishment of a democratic republic. That is far from being the case.

    Read More
  • The Arc of Crisis in the MENA Region

    On Tuesday, October 9th, the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East held a conference to discuss the nature of foreign involvement in ongoing conflicts in the region as well as the resilience of Jihadism in the post-2011 period. The conference coincided with the launching of a report, “The Arc of Crisis in the MENA Region: Fragmentation, Decentralization, and Islamist Opposition,” which explores a number of trends in governance that have emerged since the Arab Spring.

    Read More
  • The Arc Of Crisis in the MENA Region: Fragmentation, Decentralization, and Islamist Opposition

    pdfRead the Publication (PDF)

    The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is experiencing a time of great transformation and as well as tumult. Atlantic Council Senior Fellow Dr. Karim Mezran and Dr. Arturo Varvelli of the Italian Institute for International Political Studies gathered experts to explore decentralization and political Islam in six MENA countries in “The Arc of Crisis in the MENA Region: Fragmentation, Decentralization, and Islamist Opposition.”

    The report is divided into three parts. The first explores whether decentralization can positively contribute to more effective governance in fragmented environments across the region. The second examines the diverse manifestations of political Islam following the changes several countries experienced after the 2011 uprisings. The third addresses the issue of energy, including the challenges and opportunities it presents in the current political climate.

    Read More
  • Mezran Quoted in VOA on Libya


    Read More
  • Six Years After a US Ambassador Was Killed in Benghazi, Libya Remains Mired in Chaos

    On the night of September 11, 2012, the US diplomatic compound in Benghazi was attacked and burned. The US Ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens, who was visiting Libya’s eastern city, and three other US citizens lost their lives. At first, the attack was thought to have been carried out by a mob angry about a video made in the United States that mocked Islam and the Prophet Muhammad. It was later determined to be an act of terrorism.

    Six years have passed and Libya remains mired in chaos. The crisis has sharpened in its severity in the years since the ouster of the North African nation’s longtime ruler, Moammar Gadhafi, by rebels backed by the United States, France, and the United Kingdom in 2011. The United States—weary of foreign entanglements—has decreased its attention toward Libya.

    Read More