News Round-Up

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July 12, 2017

Tunisia

U.S. Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), a senior Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, introduced a Senate resolution Tuesday welcoming Prime Minister Youssef Chahed of Tunisia on his first official visit to the United States

“Tunisian Prime Minister Youssef Chahed received some encouraging support from US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis at the start of a two-day visit to Washington aimed at reversing proposed aid cuts”, according to Al Monitor.

 

July 10, 2017

July 5, 2017

Algeria

55 years ago, on 5 July 1962, Algeria became independent. On that day the Algerian people, who suffered 132 years of French colonial rule (1830-1962), voted massively in favor of independence in a referendum on self-determination.

 

June 30, 2017

Libya

The Security Council today adopted a series of resolutions, including renewed measures against illicit oil exports in Libya.

UN team ambushed in Libya

 

Algeria

Google honors one of North Africa’s most influential writers

June 26, 2017

Tunisia

A recent report by Sky News Arabia implicates Tunisian “moderate” Muslim Brotherhood leader Rachid Ghannouchi in a Qatar-funded assassination of one of his political rivals and vocal critics, Chokri Belaid, in February 2013 — “This will be particularly awkward for the Washington, D.C. foreign policy establishment and the former Obama administration, both of which openly promoted Ghannouchi and his Ennahda party in Tunisia as the model of “Islamist democracy”.

It’s also worth noting—anecdotally– that the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy (CSID), which appears to be a Tunisian Muslim Brotherhood front organization, a think tank, based in Washington DC, presided by a Tunisian-American Islamist, is indeed funded by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and other entities.

The Tunisian prime minister has embarked on a sweeping crackdown against organized crime, arresting nearly a dozen mafia bosses and smuggling barons in recent weeks in an effort to stamp out what has become a nearly existential threat to the young democracy, as reported by the New York Times. 

Libya

East Libyan forces, the self-styled Libyan National Army commanded by Khalifa Haftar, said they had gained control on Saturday over one of two remaining districts of Benghazi where they faced armed resistance.

Morocco

Morocco king slams development delays in restive north

 

June 21, 2017

Algeria aims for annual growth of 3.7 pct in oil and gas sector 2017-2021 – Nasdaq

Morocco and Tunisia Sign 9 Agreements, Seek to Revive Maghreb Arab Union

June 20, 2017

Tunisia

Rampant Islamist Bigotry: The neighbors of 2 young men in the city of Beja filled a complaint with the police  accusing them of having organized a party during which alcoholic beverages were served during the fasting month of Ramadan.  The judge has retain the charge on the basis of article 226 of the Tunisian Criminal Code punishing “public indecency”, and they are facing 3 months in prison.

June 17, 2018

Tunisia

Kasserine – A Tunisian shepherdess was killed Friday when she stepped on a landmine” planted by jihadists” in a military zone in the country’s west, where the army is fighting jihadists, a security official said.

Tunis – Protesters agreed on Friday to end a blockade of a Tunisian oil and gas plant after the government met many of their demands. The mainly young unemployed protesters had held a three-month sit-in at the El-Kamour pumping station demanding jobs and investment in the impoverished southern Tataouine region.

Amnesty International : Fifth man facing jail term for breaking fast during Ramadan  –  The Islamists of the “moderate” ennahda party promoting the spread of a belief system built on a backward,  primitive and literalist interpretation of Islam, religious intolerance and bigotry, and charlatanism, have appointed hundreds of their followers to the Tunisian civil service, including the judiciary.  Judges condemning  people  for not fasting is unconstitutional. 

Morocco

Nightly clashes between protesters and Moroccan security forces in the flashpoint city of Al-Hoceima over the region’s marginalisation are turning more violent, a witness and a news website said Friday

RABAT – Human rights defenders issued a joint call Thursday for Morocco to release protesters in Al-Hoceima (Rif region)

June 14, 2017

Tunisia:

Rampant Islamist Bigotry in Tunisia:
A middle-aged Tunisian mother denied access twice by a veiled female clerk to a government agency (part of the court system) in the upscale Tunis suburb of Carthage were she went to request a citizenship certificate for her son,  because, according to the clerk, she was not dressed properly, not wearing a skirt that covers her ankles, while the one she was wearing was long enough to cover her knees entirely. But it was not long enough for the self-appointed enforcer of “Islamic” dress code. The clerk’s behavior is completely illegal in Tunisia, but her supervisor (a judge!) when called upon to intervene, refused to do so.  This type of behavior is becoming common practice in Tunisia, thanks to an environment nurtured by the Islamists of the “moderate” ennahda party (and others) that favors the spread of a belief system built on a backward,  primitive and literalist interpretation of Islam, religious intolerance and bigotry, and charlatanism.  When it was part of a governing coalition, between 2011 and 2014, the ennahda party appointed hundreds of its followers to the Tunisian civil service, including the judiciary.

Fifth man facing jail term for breaking fast during Ramadan – The conviction of five people for the charge of “public indecency” after smoking a cigarette or eating in public during the month of Ramadan is a clear violation of individual freedoms in Tunisia, said Amnesty International.  No law prohibits eating or drinking in public during Ramadan in Tunisia , and the Tunisian Constitution guarantees “freedom of belief and conscience”. However, the spread of religious bigotry and intolerance encouraged and fueled by well-established militant Islamist groups and the infiltration of state institutions  (such as the judicial system) by militant Islamists, are threatening freedoms. 

– Years after Tunisian civil society and some political parties demanded it, Tunisia orders NGOs to publish foreign funding A move that may affect the numerous foreign-funded NGOs that burgeoned in Tunisia after the Arab Spring, involved in “democracy-promotion”, economic neo-liberalism advocacy, and support for “moderate” political Islam.

– World Bank Approves $500 Million Loan for Tunisia. The funding followed the release by the International Monetary Fund of a delayed $320-million tranche of Tunisia’s IMF loan, after the government agreed to speed up economic reforms.

June 12, 2017

Morocco

Scores of demonstrators arrested – Protests over marginalisation in Rif region lead to worst unrest since Arab uprisings

Moroccan Social Scientists Support the Hirak Protest Movement in the Rif region.

Tunisia and Algeria

Algerians demonstrate and eat in public to protest against the “prevailing climate of fear against those who don’t fast “during the month of Ramadan, and Tunisians for “the right not to fast“. 

Libya

Gaddafi’s son Saif freed in Libya

June 5, 2017

Tunisia

According to the NY Times Editorial Board, Corruption Enrages Tunisiansand “if Mr. Essebsi does not address protesters’ legitimate demands for economic justice and drop the amnesty bill that is an insult to the brave Tunisians of the Arab Spring, he can expect conflicts to escalate.”

June 4, 2017

Tunisia:  Prime Minister Youssef Chahed warns  that no one would be spared in the government’s massive anti-corruption fight, in an interview to the Tunisian Daily ‘La Presse‘ 

June 3, 2017

Libya

ISIS, Gen. Hifter’s Forces Both Attacking Libya ‘Unity’ Govt Simultaneously  A week after fighting broke out in Tripoli between the “unity” government and the Tripoli Parliament, two of the three self-proclaimed governments in the country, the unity government is facing further attacks on several fronts, with every major force in the country hitting them at once

Morocco

Thousands Rally in North Morocco After Protest Leader Arrested

Algeria Accepts Syrians Trapped on Morocco Border, according to the Foreign Ministry

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, Morocco deports Algerian journalist

Tunisia

Islamist militants kidnapped and beheaded a young shepherd in Tunisian mountains near the border with Algeria, less than two years after his brother was killed in the same way, security sources and residents told TAP state news agency.

A couple of theater actors have been arrested in the City of Sfax (an Islamist stronghold) by the police, for eating in public during the holly month of Ramadan.
No law prohibits eating or drinking in public during Ramadan in Tunisia , and the Tunisian Constitution guarantees “freedom of belief and conscience”.

June 1, 2017

Tunisia

Four young Tunisians were sentenced to one month in jail for eating in a public park during the holly month of Ramadan, in the city of Bizerte. Several NGOs called on the authorities to “respect their constitutional duty to guarantee freedom of conscience”,  and issued a call to protest on June 11  and demand respect for individual freedoms. No law prohibits eating or drinking in public during Ramadan in Tunisia , and the Tunisian Constitution guarantees “freedom of belief and conscience”.

 May 30, 2017

Libya

Egyptian jets hit the Libyan city of Derna on May 29 in attacks targeting terrorists in response to an ambush that killed 29 Egyptian Christians last week

Morocco

Moroccan police say they have detained a leading activist responsible for organizing months of protests against corruption and unemployment.

UNHCR statement on Syrians stranded between Algeria & Morocco

Tunisia

Tunisian security forces killed a senior leader of the Islamic State militant group (ISIS) on Sunday.

Fitch affirms ratings at ‘B+; Outlook Stable

May 26, 2017

Tunisia

Tunisia declared a “war on corruption” on Wednesday, after authorities arrested three businessmen and a customs officer a day earlier

Algeria

Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika appointed a new prime minister Wednesday, replacing his ally Abdelmalek Sellal following parliamentary elections

As oil prices languish, signs emerge of Algeria changing its energy ways

Libya

Under pressure in Syria, ISIS plots terror attacks from Libya

Heavy fighting between rival militias erupts in the Libyan capital

Morocco

A group of around 50 Syrian refugees trapped between Morocco and Algeria face a “catastrophic situation” as they are unable to move in either direction, rights watchdogs warned Wednesday.

May 21, 2017

Libya

The European Union will host a meeting of the EU, the United Nations, the African Union and the League of Arab States (Libya Quartet) in Brussels on Tuesday to discuss a peaceful solution to Libya’s predicament”

The head of the United Nations refugee agency on Sunday urged Libyan authorities to free all asylum seekers and refugees from its detention centres

“Algeria is planning to reduce oil subsidies further as a way of cutting public spending amid consistently low oil prices… subsidies are still 27 percent of GDP… Like other Arab nations, Algeria is being careful in the implementation of economic reforms in the face of declining oil export revenues and high youth unemployment.

Morocco

Thousands of Moroccans marched in a northern town in the Rif region, to protest against injustice and corruption – Rejecting the government’s claims that the protests are funded by foreign sources, they reiterated their demands for social and economic development (“Our demands are clear, we want the removal of the security presence here, we want hospitals…. we want jobs, we want universities.” ), while  stating that they are “not separatists

Tunisia

Tunisian protesters shut an oil pumping station that feeds a coastal terminal on Saturday after a standoff with troops, escalating a weeks-long protest for jobs in their marginalized southern region.

May 15, 2017

Libya

Libya is ratcheting up oil output with less than two weeks to go before the world’s biggest exporters decide whether to extend production cuts to clear a supply glut.

Morocco

According to the Country Economic Memorandum for Morocco (CEM) untitled “Fostering Higher Growth and Employment with Productive Diversification and Competitiveness”, published by the World Bank office in Rabat, Morocco has an opportunity in the years ahead to boost economic growth and job creation, especially for young people, and to catch up even faster with developed economies by investing in its human capital, modernizing the economy and improving the performance of public institutions.

Algeria

Largest Islamist movement in Algeria refuses to join the government

Tunisia

In Marginalized South Tunisia, Unrest Over Gas Tests Government.

Thousands protest Tunisia’s corruption amnesty bill – Proposed law gives amnesty to businessmen accused of corruption under overthrown president Ben Ali.

Journalists prosecuted for criticizing conduct of security forces

Libya

Food security – Conflict continues to halt economic recovery and deteriorate food security prospects. People in need of assistance estimated at 1.3 million –   GIEWS Country Brief

Slave trade – Migrants who managed to reach Europe from Libya have long told of being kidnapped by smugglers, who would then torture them to extort cash as they waited for boats. But in recent years this abuse has developed into a modern-day slave trade

May 13, 2017

Tunisia

Festive mood and tight security for Jewish festival – 3,000 Lag B’Omer visitors expected at one of the world oldest synagogue, 1,000 more than last year when Tunisia was reeling from jihadist attacks

Libya

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi is calling on the international community to lift an arms embargo on Libya so that weapons can be delivered legally to a powerful general he backs in the fractured country’s east.

U.S.-Made Airplanes Deployed in Libya’s Civil War, in Defiance of U.N.

Tension is high in Tripoli with the Libyan presidential council of Premier Fayez Al Sarraj warning against a ”new spiral of violence” and a militia boasting that it has closed the foreign ministry. The fresh tension was sparked by the ‘summit’ earlier this month in Abu Dhabi between Sarraj and the strongman of Cyrenaica, general Khalifa Haftar, as shown by statements and comments.

Algeria

The Algerian ambassador in Damascus has revealed that his country is planning to resume passenger flights to Syria,

Algeria and Iraq are in favour of extending OPEC and non-OPEC producers’ deal on global oil supply cuts for a further six months

May 10, 2017

Tunisia

The European Commission, Brussels, 10 May 2017- Fact Sheet Relations between the EU and Tunisia

President Beji Caid Essebsi on Wednesday ordered the army to protect facilities linked to phosphate, gas and oil production after protests aimed at disrupting output broke out in the south of the country.

May 8, 2017

Algeria

May 8, 1945: Official history puts the 1st November 1954 as the start of Algeria’s war of independence against the French occupying power. However, most Algerians know that the first sparks of the conflict can be traced back to a more sinister chapter in France’s 132 year rule over the North African country. Remembering Algeria’s Setif massacre

May 7, 2017

Morocco 

In a Fight for Land, a Women’s Movement Shakes Morocco

May 5, 2017

Algeria

Algeria’s ruling FLN, allies win majority after vote marked by apathy

May 2, 2017

Algeria

Algerian voters go to the polls on 4 May to elect a new parliament.  A two-party alliance led by President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s National Liberation Front dominates Algeria’s parliament, and will face an Islamist opposition organized in two main coalitions in a bid to regain ground five years since the worst electoral defeat in their history.

Tunisia

Mohamed Talbi, a prominent Tunisian academic and specialist on Islam  died early on Monday aged 95. Talbi criticized and opposed the various types of interpretations that are the basis of political Islam and ”Islamism”, including those of Rached Ghannouchi, the founder of Tunisia’s Islamist party ennhada, whom he considered a follower of Salafism (more specifically political Salafism). Mohamed Talbi was regarded as a thinker of ‘‘the Islam of the enlightenment, challenging rigid interpretations of that religion and calling for a fresh view of Islamic thought; stating, among other, that Sharia law is “a human product” that has “nothing to do with [true] Islam”.

The Tunisian government must demonstrate its commitment to human rights by accepting recommendations on combating torture, ending discrimination and protecting women and girls from sexual and gender based violence, said Amnesty International. In addition, “alarm” was expressed by Tunisian and international non-governmental organisations over the deterioration of press freedom.

April 27

Libya

Lawmakers urge the US to get serious about Russia’s growing influence in Libya. Republican Sen. Bob Corker and Democratic Sen. Ben Cardin on Tuesday called for US engagement in the North African country.

Morocco

Morocco Cabinet Wins Parliamentary Backing, Set to Review Budget

Morocco/Algeria

Morocco and Algeria have summoned their respective envoys after dozens of Syrian refugees attempted to “illegally enter” the kingdom from Algeria, the ministry of foreign affairs said on Sunday.

Tunisia

Tunisia Takes Aim at Sagging Dinar With IMF-Backed Rate Hike

April 24, 2017

Morocco                                                                                                                                          Report of the UN Secretary-General on the situation concerning Western Sahara (S/2017/307) [EN/AR]

Tunisia

April 21, 2017

Morocco

Morocco establishes diplomatic relations with Cuba

Libya

Donald Trump remarks raise fears of US disengagement in Libya

Tunisia

El Kef – Thousands protested in northeastern Tunisia (one of the neglected regions of the interior of the country)  on Thursday to mark a general strike over unemployment and poverty, six years since a revolution ignited by similar grievances.

April 20, 2017

Tunisia

Activists make strives against corruption with a leaked recording of  the head of a major private TV station linked to the President, Nessma TV, and “Self proclaimed founder of Nidaa Tounes Party”, where he is heard instructing journalists to defame  IWatch, an anti-corruption NGO.

April 19, 2017

Libya

Unity government has called for “urgent intervention” by the international community to end military escalation in its south

Morocco

The formation of a new government in Morocco has put an end to months of political stalemate. The political crisis has nonetheless exposed the power struggles at play in Moroccan politics and the challenges ahead for the newly-formed coalition.

Tunisia

Tunisian NGOs Warn Against Surrendering the Audiovisual Watchdog to Pressure Groups

Rights activist and blogger on censorship and the state of media six years after the revolution that shook the world

April 18, 2017

Libya

U.S. drones helped win a battle against ISIS for first time in Libya

Tunisia

IMF Reaches Staff-Level Agreement for Completion of First Review of Tunisia’s Extended Fund Facility

Tunisia central bank to steadily weaken dinar, finance minister says

Tunisia trade deficit expands 57 pct in first quarter this year

Tunisia crops under stress after strong growing season

Transparency International, the global anti-corruption movement, condemns the threats made against its partner in Tunisia and calls on the authorities investigate the smear campaign against IWatch Tunisia.

April 11, 2017

Tunisia

According to media, Islamization [in the sense of the spread of religious bigotry] is threatening freedoms : “A movie director assaulted, a British DJ condemned in absentia to one year in prison, pressing calls for the closure of stores selling alcohol… The image of a tolerant, open and progressive Tunisia will soon be just a myth.

Protest movements in the neglected interior regions of Tunisia intensify. A general strike was declared on Tuesday (April 11) in the province of Tataouine in the southeast of Tunisia, which is considered  one of the most disadvantaged regions of the country in terms of socioeconomic development. On the same day, other protest movements occurred  in the north-west and the center of the Tunisia. In the central city of  Kairouan, an important march was staged with protesters shouting slogans expressing their  “Anger” and demanding that “Priority be given to development”. In Le Kef, protesters were mobilized against the closing of a factory that employs hundreds of workers, and against high levels of unemployment.

April 11, 2017

Libya

A senior White House foreign policy official with past ties to Hungarian far-right groups has pushed a plan to partition Libya  into three areas. “The plan would divide Libya into three provinces that date back to the Ottoman Empire in the 16thcentury, and thereby solve Libya’s current crisis. If only it were that simple… Most Libyans still think of themselves as “Libyan.” They don’t think of themselves as Tripolitanian or Cyrenaican or Fezzani. The solution for Libya’s crisis is to foster this sense of “Libyaness” as a way of countering the zero-sum mentality that is driving the current crisis. “

April 06, 2017

Tunisia

The spread of religious bigotry supported by religious parties, triggers the levelling down of standards: Is the world flat?  A thesis that the Earth is flat causes amazement and consternation in the academic world;  and local authorities populist decisions:  Tunisian nightclub shut down over Muslim call to prayer remix.

Mar. 29, 2017

Morocco

Morocco and China: King Mohammed VI Launches $ 1 Billion Chinese Investment Project, said to be one of the largest Chinese investment project in Africa, and the largest in North Africa.  “From trade to tourism, Morocco is quickly becoming a media darling in China, as the country’s stability, location and culture entice Chinese investment. … Morocco is quickly becoming an important partner for China on a range of issues: one can even say that Morocco-fever is gripping the Middle Kingdom.”

Mar. 28, 2017

EU aid to Tunisia generally well spent, but management shortcomings need to be addressed, say Auditors in a Report of the European Court of Auditors on EU aid to Tunisia, dated March 28, 2017.  The report states that  “Tunisian authorities have failed to develop a reliable comprehensive national development plan. In the absence of such a plan, donors were unable to get an overview of the country’s priorities, with a clear determination of the necessary funds, and the development of key indicators. ” The report indicates that the EU provided Tunisia with about 1.3 billion euros of aid since the revolution in that country, “without really checking how it was spent” ;and, although aid “has generally been well spent, as it has contributed significantly to the democratic transition and economic stability … the conditions were too flexible, which did not really “incite Tunisian authorities to go ahead with the reform measures specified in the agreements “.

Mar. 25, 2017

Algeria

Algeria’s Sonatrach to Invest $50 Billion, Boost Oil Output

Libya

The Pentagon wants to keep  an unspecified number of ground troops in Libya to help friendly forces further degrade the Islamic State faction.

HRW accuses Libya National Army of committing war crimes

Mar. 22, 2017

Morocco

The newly appointed Head of Government, Saad Eddine El Othmani, who has announced the beginning of a new round of consultations with all the parties, has only two weeks to form a coalition government… During the party’s extraordinary session, the members of the General Secretariat of the Justice and Development Party expressed their opposition to including the Socialist Union for Popular Forces (USFP). This represents another difficulty facing the new Head of Government, in addition to his tight time constraints.

Morocco signs preliminary financing agreement for $10 billion tech city

Tunisia

The government of Tunisia has agreed to implement much-delayed economic reforms as it celebrates the 61st anniversary of its independence from France on Monday 20 March. – See more at: http://africanbusinessmagazine.com/region/north-africa/tunisia-61-piecemeal-reforms-enacted/#sthash.0wPbwGt0.dpuf

Police Union Leader Criticized Officials, Jailed for ‘Defamation

Mar. 19, 2017

Libya

Joint Communique of the Quartet meeting on Libya, following a meeting held at the headquarters of the League of Arab States (Cairo, Egypt) on 18 March 2017, attended by representatives from the African Union (AU), the European Union (EU), the League of Arab States (LAS) and the United Nations (UN), to discuss the situation in Libya and further coordinate their efforts in order to advance the political process and assist Libya in its democratic transition.

 Libya’s NOC says expects to regain Es Sider, Ras Lanuf oil ports  Libya’s National Oil Corporation (NOC) has been coordinating with military forces from eastern Libya and has “no reason to believe” it will not regain control of the Es Sider and Ras Lanuf oil ports, NOC’s chairman said.

Analysis: Haftar will prevail in Libya (By Richard Galustian)

Mar. 17, 2017

Morocco

King appoints new Prime Minister – After the dismissal Wednesday of Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane, King Mohammed VI entrusted Saad-Eddine El Othmani the task of forming a new government after five months of political crisis. The newly appointed Prime Minister, also a prominent member of the Islamist party PJD, is a former minister of Foreign Affairs (Jan. 2012 to Oct. 2013).

Morocco‘s King Ousts Prime Minister

Tunisia

WASHINGTON – Tunisian Foreign Minister Khemaies Jhinaoui on Tuesday called on President Donald Trump to continue financial support for the North African nation in order to combat radical Islam in the region. Tunisia is considered the ….

Mar. 16, 2017

Algeria

On Monday, March 13th, 2017, on the occasion of the tenth high-level meeting of the EU-Algeria Association Council, the European Union and Algeria signed a series of agreements aimed at “helping Algeria diversify its economy and improve its business climate”. An initiative in line with the calls by influential risk consultancies, eager to see a reluctant Algeria more integrated into the global economy, even though, like many developing countries, it is suffering from unequal exchanges with industrialized nations. In fact, Algerians consider the implementation of the European Union Association Agreement (signed on December, 20, 20010),  detrimental to their economy, because it resulted in “massive imports that have brought local producers to their knees, and made Algeria more dependent than ever on products from the EU”. The latter is Algeria’s main trading partner and accounts for 46.9% of the country’s imports, and the Algerian government has often expressed its dissatisfaction, in the words of Foreign Minister Ramtane Lamamra, with  the “structural asymmetry in the way the agreement has been applied“.

Mar. 15, 2017

Morocco

Morocco opens retrial of 25 Sahrawis accused of murdering 13 ; while a spokesperson  for the Red-Green Alliance Party and Danish Member of Parliament, has urged the Moroccan Government to release the Saharawi human right activists of Gdeim Izik group.

Mar. 13, 2017

Morocco

Morocco applies to join the West African regional economic bloc (ECOWAS). A move considered by some as part of its strategy to expand its influence and trade ties throughout the continent, while others see it as mainly an attempt to consolidate Moroccan claims on the Western Sahara region.

Tunisia

German to deport “IS” terrorist suspect. The person in custody has been suspected of planning an attack in Frankfurt and by Tunisian investigators, has been linked to the 2015 Bardo Museum attacks. German Interior Minister Thomas de Manziere confirms that German-Tunisian talks have been productive and successful.

Mar. 10, 2017

Libya & The Sahel

 Africom commander outlines responsibilities, challenges to members of the U.S. Senate Committee on Armed Services (SASC) on 9 March 2017.  AFRICOM commander voices concern over Russian meddling in Libya. US General speaking to the Senate Armed Services Committee indicates that terrorist Threat in Africa Goes Beyond Ideology.

 UK-funded camps in Libya ‘indefinitely detaining asylum seekers’

Mar. 8, 2017

Libya

Forces loyal to Libya’s UN-backed government have retaken control of two crucial oil facilities after several days of clashes that threatened to dent the Opec member’s crude exports.

Mar. 3, 2017

Tunisia

Tunisia and Germany announced a new agreement on tackling illegal migration, during a visit to Tunisia by Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday. The accord follows frictions between the two countries over the case of a Tunisian rejected asylum seeker blamed for a truck rampage at a Berlin Christmas market that killed 12 people. Germany will provide financial assistance to Tunisia  for deported Tunisians, and to support development projects in poor areas.

Libya

Dozens of people feared dead in shipwreck off Libya

Libya’s biggest oil port seized on Friday afternoon, in Blow to Production surge, by the Benghazi Defense Brigades, a militia that’s not allied to the United Nations-backed government in Tripoli,.

Mar. 2, 2017

Egypt

Former president Hosni Mubarak is acquitted of murder charges in the deaths of protester during the 2011 Arab Spring revolts.

Feb.28, 2017

Libya

Thousands of refugee children are being abused, exploited and arbitrarily detained in Libya, UNICEF reports.

Algeria

Algeria and French presidential elections: The controversy of colonization as crime against humanity –  France,  which kept its colonial grip on Algeria for more than a century (from 1830 to 1962) never recognized the appalling brutality of its conquest of the North African territory, nor its bloody repression of the Algerian independence movement, in spite of innumerable requests to do so by Algerians. In fact, France never came to grips with its colonial past. Even worst, in February 2005, the French parliament voted to pass a law in which France’s colonialism would be referred to as a“positive role.”  But the law was repealed a year later by President Jacques Chirac.  However, the question of France’s behavior towards Algeria remained a highly charged and controversial issue in French politics, and has resurfaced recently during the campaign for the presidential election to be held on 23 April 2017, when one of the candidates, Emmanuel Macron, called colonisation of Algeria a crime against humanity, a ‘real barbarity’, the first time a French politician refers to French occupation of Algeria in these terms.

Tunisia

President Caid Essebsi initiative to solve the Libyan crisis in cooperation with Algeria and Egypt; IMF Reforms; Anticorruption Law

Algeria   

Algerian president reiterates support for Polisario Front

Algerian state energy company Sonatrach has begun discussions with ExxonMobil Corp (XOM) and others in order to begin offshore oil drilling

Morocco

Morocco to withdraw forces from Western Sahara buffer zone

Morocco seeks to join ECOWAS

February 24, 2017

Tunisia

Tunisia and the European Refugees Crisis.

Tunisia under pressure by Italy and Germany to take back those refugees and migrants that transited by its territory,

February 23, 2017

Tunisia 

Parliament finally adopts anti-corruption law. The main aim of the law is to protect whistleblowers in corruption cases.

Tunisia and the European Refugees Crisis                                                                                    Since 2011, thousands of migrants and refugees have sailed from the Tunisian shores to reach Europe. Tunisians authorities are now under pressure from Italy and Germany to take back those refugees and migrants that are from, or transited through Tunisia. It seems that there are attempts in Europe to relocate in Tunisia those “irregular migrants” Europe wants to get rid of. But Tunisian authorities rejected these demands.Tunisia, a country of 11 millions people is already hosting tens of thousands of Libyan refugees on its soil. This, while the country is experiencing a dire economic crisis with unbearably high unemployment rates, and is devoid of the adequate capacity to accommodate such a number of persons in need of international protection. Yet, Europe is threatening to cut foreign aid to countries that don’t cooperate in accepting back deportees, including Tunisia. On February 21, 2017, several local and international NGOs have denounced in a communiqué “this horrendous attack on the Right of Asylum”, demanding that “the pressure against Tunisia ceases, in favor of a genuine commitment by the European Union and its Member States to the treatment of refugees and migrants on their territory according to the principles of the Right of Asylum.

Libya 

Tragedy strikes African migrants -13 among them suffocate in a Libyan shipping container. Reports state that many of these migrants were from Mali and included a number of children.

Tunisia

Still suffering from sluggish economic growth and high unemployment. Tunisia’s economic growth rate in 2016 did not exceed 1% according to the country’s National Institute of Statistics (INS), below the expectations of 1.5%, coupled with a surge in the unemployment rate standing at 15.5% , with 632,500 unemployed,  33.6% among them are college graduates. An improvement in growth rate  will depend on the pace of reforms and the recovery of the tourism, agriculture and export sectors, as stated in the various reports recently published by international financial institutions and rating agencies.

Tunisia

Since the uprisings of the Arab Spring in 2011, Tunisia has spent a total of 4 years in a state of emergency. A measure supposedly exceptional that drags on, to the dismay of human rights groups.

February 22, 2017

Morocco

Frenchman sentenced to 6 years in jail for allegedly providing financial aid to ISIS cells within Morocco. An accusation based on the 700 dirhams (about 74 US dollars) that he has given – in three times – to someone he vaguely knew, to help them find an apartment. Human Rights Watch talks about a case”emblematic”of the tendency of Moroccan courts to rely on police reports to demonstrate the guilt of the accused.

Tunisia

Cases of torture in Tunisia are falling, but abuses persist in prisons and detention centers.

February 20, 2017

Libya

A trilateral meeting of the foreign ministers of Egypt, Libya, and Algeria concluded on Monday with the representatives of the three countries releasing a statement on a Tunisian declaration to support comprehensive political reconciliation in Libya.

Libya

UK wary of Russian support for Libyan general; Trump’s position unclear

Morocco 

Morocco has joined the African Union, and why it matters.

February 21, 2017

Tunisia 

Even in post-Ben Ali Tunisia with the passing of a data protection law in 2004 ,Tunisia is still afflicted with the violation of the privacy of its citizens. Despite efforts by the Data Protection Authority formed in 2015, citizen rights have been repeatedly hindered by the bureaucratic process.

February 17, 2017

Libya         

In the first NATO conference since the election of Donald Trump eyes turn towards war-torn Libya in terms of future US-Russian relations. Russia’s support of General Haftar in an increasingly complex political climate is demonstrative of the Kremlin’s growing influence in Libya and the rest of North Africa. Looking towards the future, it will be important to see how Trump responds to Russia’s advances in Libya

February 16, 2017

Tunisia

Tunisia’s PM visit to Germany; Reforming the Prison System; Revamping Law 52

(By Fatma Benmosbah*)

The State Visit of the Tunisian Prime Minister to Germany                                                                     For a short two-day official visit to Germany (February 14-15), the Tunisian Prime Minister, Youssef Chahed, had a rather heavy and challenging schedule. This is an important visit that coincides with the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries, and it comes at a very difficult time. Mr. Chahed has to restore the climate of confidence that has always characterized relations between Tunisia and Germany, but recently shaken by the terrorist attack on a Christmas market in Berlin, by a Tunisian national. Mr. Chahed must improve, as much as possible, the image of Tunisia in Germany; reassure its various German partners in the public and private sectors; obtain an increase in German public aid; convince new potential investors; respond persuasively to media inquiries; and strengthen ties with Germany in the crucial areas of security, financial and economic support, including the conversion of the Tunisian debt to Germany into investments; speed up the implementation of the Tunisian-German university project; ensure Tunisia’s involvement in the G-20 Summit to be held this summer in Hamburg; make sure that the project of a Marshall Plan promoted by Germany in favor of Africa will be acted upon; and get Germany’s support for the Tunisian initiative on Libya.

Merkel pressures Tunisia on deportations Tunisia’s Prime Minister, Youssef Chahed, paid tribute to the 12 people killed and dozens injured in the December 19, 2016, terrorist attack on the Berlin Christmas market, but rejected any responsibility for the events leading up to the said terror attack. Ahead of talks with Merkel, Chahed told the German newspaper Bild: “Let me make one thing perfectly clear, the Tunisian authorities did not commit a single error. I reject the criticism that Tunisia was slow to take back failed asylum seekers from Europe, including Amri [the author of the terrorist attack ].” Chahed praised the current cooperation between the two countries in his interview with Bild, but also called on the German authorities to make sure that anyone scheduled to be deported back to Tunisia is truly a Tunisian national. “The biggest problems for Europe are the refugees who go from Libya to Italy,” he added.

Youssef Chahed, met with his German counterpart, Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is very eager to speed up repatriation of failed asylum seekers, particulalrly after the Tunisian citizen, Anis Amri, a rejected asylum seeker awaiting deportation, committed the terrorist attack of December 19, 2016.

After her meeting with the Tunisian Prime Minister, the German Chancellor Angela Merkel declared that they “discussed how the repatriation of people can be improved … how to make voluntary repatriation more attractive, by offering education, help to get started,” Merkel said, adding that around 1,500 of the 30,000 Tunisians in Germany were supposed to have left the country. “It must be clear that the others will be deported involuntarily. We must be quicker about that and we’re talking to Tunisia,” she said. “Last year, some 116 failed asylum seekers were sent back to Tunisia, this is not enough,” Merkel added.

Chahed: “No plans for Tunisian asylum centers” Earlier, answering questions about the creation of refugee camps in the South of Tunisia, Chahed told Reuters that “Setting up camps or reception centers was not an issue (in our talks)”. According to Deutschlandfunk, the Prime Minister stated that “Tunisia does not have the capacity to create refugee camps”. With the EU looking to stem the flow of asylum seekers crossing the Mediterranean Sea, Chahed rejected the idea of similar proposals to those adopted by Libya two weeks ago at the EU Malta Summit. While Libya has agreed to set up “safe” refugee camps for Europe-bound migrants, Chahed said he rejected the idea of Tunisia setting up its own asylum centers to ease the burden on Europe and he saw no option for such an agreement between Europe and Tunisia. “Tunisia is a very young democracy and I don’t think that it will work, or that we have the capacity and the means to set up refugee camps,” he said, adding that “any prospective solution must be envisaged in conjunction with Libya”.

The Tunisian prison system
During his visit to Germany, the Tunisian Prime Minister was reminded of the terrible conditions in the severely overcrowded Tunisian prisons, and the horrendous conditions endured by inmates. A situation emphasized again in a recent report by the international NGO, ASF (Lawyers Without Borders). It seems however that Tunisian authorities have started to take action. Tunisian officials realize that without changes in the prison system, it will be very hard to continue to praise the Tunisian exception and its rising democracy abroad.

Tunisia to Revamp the Famous Law 52, a Draconian Drug Law                                                            Tunisia is revamping its draconian drug laws, which have been denounced for penalizing the use of cannabis with mandatory-minimum sentences of one year in prison, and for not differentiating between soft and hard drugs. For many Tunisians, Law 52 is a relic of the 23 years of Ben Ali’s police state, when the latter operated with impunity and used the law to settle scores with the autocrat’s opponents.

The revamp came after the arrest of two brilliant young high school students, which prompted protests and a renewed effort to amend draconian drug laws that many say are used by police to abuse people. After the arrest of the two teenagers, even the Prime Minister, Youssef Chahed, recognized that the law was “out of sync” with daily realities. He urged the parliament to revise the law and eliminate all prison sentences for recreational drug use or possession. Endorsing the demands of the campaign launched by civil society on social networks “El habs la!” (No to jail!), Mr. Chahed listed the measures that had to be taken, such as the reopening of detoxification centers, the launching of awareness campaign among young people, and the revision of Law 52, while focusing law enforcement agencies on cracking down primarily on drug dealers. The Prime Minister added that he is not about to send smokers of “zatla “(cannabis) to prison, and that “this law has destroyed the life and the future of millions of young Tunisians, just like the two young students, who found themselves caught in the gears of the justice system.” For Amna Guellali, a researcher for Human Rights Watch,”Law 52 reveals the fundamental problems of the penal and judicial system in Tunisia, which does not guarantee people’s rights and clogs prisons with minor offenders.” The law penalizes individuals for consumption of drugs rather than possession, so all police need to do is conduct a successful urine test for a conviction. Drugs legislation affects mainly young people—the age of those in jail on drug offences is mostly between 18 and 35. It impacts a significant proportion of Tunisian society, almost a third of all prisoners are being held on drug offences.

On June 2014, Najib Laabidi, a filmmaker and musician, described how he was sleeping in his room when police raided his home. “They come to your home and take you away to do the test, even if they don’t find marijuana on you,” he said. He and three others were convicted and spent a year in prison. Unlike other crimes, for which judges have leeway in sentencing, the law requires a minimum of one year behind bars, with fines of $700 to $2,100. “In addition, this law does not distinguish between soft and hard drugs, so you get the same penalty whether consuming cocaine or marijuana,” said lawyer Bassem Trifi, who has defended hundreds of drug cases. He also lamented the lack of drug addiction treatment centers in the country, with only one still functioning. A government survey of 15- to 17-year-olds living in the Tunis metropolitan area found that 11.6 percent had tried marijuana, but for most other estimates, the rate is higher.

The 33-page report, “‘All This for a Joint’: Tunisia’s Repressive Drug Law and a Roadmap for Its Reform,” documents the human rights abuses and social toll that stem from enforcing the country’s draconian drug laws, which send thousands of Tunisians to prison each year merely for consuming or possessing small quantities of cannabis for personal use.

In an interview given to Nesma TV, on Sunday Feb. 19th, President Caid Essebsi spoke about his vision and expectation regarding Law 52. He vigorously condemned it and called for replacing the prison sentence for drug users with more lenient alternatives such as fines and community service; and, invoking Article 80 of the Constitution, he suggested that the National Security Council be convened and issue an order that police officers stop arresting young smokers. He also called the members of the Tunisian Parliament to move on and assume responsibility. It should be noted that the delay in making a decision on this matter stems from their absenteeism during the discussions of the committee tasked with examining the government’s proposals for legal reform.

*This Review was conducted by Fatma Benmosbah, an analyst of local and Arab affairs based in Tunis. It was translated from the French by the Maghreb Center.