Observatorio del Magreb - Nov 2022

Maghreb Observatory



Relevant strategic facts about the northwestern Mediterranean countries

In the picture

Boats used by migrants abandoned on the coast of Arinaga, in the Canary Islands [Comisión Española de financial aid al Refugiado © José Luis Rodríguez Sierra].

MARCH 2024

meeting in Algiers of the Forum of Gas Exporting Countries to stabilize the price of gas.

March 3-The forum of gas exporting countries has brought together in Algiers the states with 70% of the reserves of this hydrocarbon. The main goal of the summit was to stabilize the price of natural gas, which has fluctuated between 30 and 50 dollars per megawatt/hour after reaching a high of 200 dollars following the outbreak of the war in Ukraine.

Mauritania receives 210 million euros from the EU to curb immigration

March 7-Mauritania's interior minister, Mohamed Ahmed, and EU interior commissioner, Iylva Johansson, have signed a agreement granting the Maghreb country 210 million euros to become a buffer for sub-Saharan immigration. In addition, European Union countries such as Spain have pledged to provide training to law enforcement agencies in charge of curbing illegal immigration. Mauritania is the main departure point for canoes arriving in the Canary Islands. This together with the instability in neighboring Senegal and the numerous coups d'état in the Sahel make Mauritania a point core topic to stop this new migratory crisis.

Algeria's reaction to the seizure of its embassy grounds in Rabat

March 17-Morocco has decided to confiscate the land on which the Algerian embassy in Rabat is located under the pretext of an "extension of the grounds of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs". The Algerian government has expressed its strong dissatisfaction by publishing a statement stating that this is "yet another provocation on the part of the Moroccan government" and a violation of the Vienna Convention. These events are an alleged response to the opening of an office in Algiers by a political party seeking the independence of the Moroccan Rif region.

4 people in Tunisia sentenced to death on charges of killing opposition leader in 2013

March 27-After 8 years of judicial proceedings, a court of first written request in Tunisia has decreed capital punishment for 4 of those accused in the 2013 assassination of leftist leader Belaid. The death of the opposition leader was claimed at the time by the Islamic State. The sentence has been particularly harsh as it is a terrorism offense. The North African country is in a difficult moment, with a very unstable economic status , illegal immigration and street protests.

Moroccan military maneuvers off Western Sahara set off alarm bells in Spain

March 29-Rabat has announced the start of 3 months of naval maneuvers off the coast of Western Sahara. These maneuvers are assumed to be a reaffirmation of Moroccan control over that territory. The Canary Islands regional government , presided by Fernando Clavijo, has raised its voice against military maneuvers to be carried out only 125 kilometers from the island of Fuerteventura. The Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs, José Manuel Albares, has nevertheless come out to reassure these concerns by affirming that these maneuvers had been warned and do not pose any danger to the territorial integrity of the Canary Islands. In addition to sending a message of strength, the maneuvers are a response to the judicial setback from Europe on the fisheries agreement between Morocco and the EU for 2019. The agreement is in question because it does not take into account the self-determination of the Saharawi territory. These maneuvers join the already multiple clashes between the Spanish and Moroccan governments on issues such as immigration, the opening of customs in Ceuta and Melilla and the delimitation of the Canary territorial waters between Spain and Morocco.


European Union agrees to 210 million euros in aid for Mauritania

February 8-The European Commission has finalized an agreement agreement with Mauritania for the provision of 210 million euros to the African country, with the main objective goal to encourage the government to combat the flow of irregular migration from sub-Saharan African countries. The flow through the migratory route that starts from the coast of Mauritania and ends in the Canary Islands has increased notably in the last year.

Spanish Foreign Minister cancels his visit to Algiers at the last minute

February 11-Following the extended diplomatic crisis between Algeria and Spain that has seen trade ties between the two countries effectively disappear since 2022, the meeting between their foreign ministers has been postponed indefinitely at Algeria's request. The cancellation of the meeting has taken by surprise the head of the Spanish diplomacy, who was a few hours away from making the trip to Algiers when he was informed of the news. The postponement of this meeting complicates the reconciliation between the two nations.

Morocco announces largest interception of irregular migrants of the year

February 19-The Moroccan Navy has announced the interception of a vessel with 141 on board heading for the Canary Islands. This interception of irregular migrants, carried out in the territorial waters of Western Sahara, would be the largest made by the Maghreb country this year, when maritime migratory routes from Mauritania and sub-Saharan Africa to the Canary Islands have intensified.

Sanchez highlights in Rabat the good relations between Spain and Morocco

February 21-The Spanish Prime Minister met with King Mohammed VI in Rabat. Sánchez has highlighted the intense relationship between the two countries following the agreement of the Roadmap in 2022, which established a substantial increase in economic and diplomatic cooperation. Since then, Spain's economic investments in Moroccan infrastructure projects have reached over 20 billion euros annually. The meeting addressed issues such as the organization of the 2030 Football World Cup between Spain, Portugal and Morocco; the fight against terrorism; and irregular migration in the region.

Morocco maintains its position on the closure of customs offices in Ceuta and Melilla

February 21-In his visit to Rabat, the head of the Spanish government has conveyed to Mohammed VI that Spain is ready for the reopening of the customs of Ceuta and Melilla. The Moroccan monarch, for his part, has stressed that certain "technical issues" remain to be resolved before confirming the reopening of customs, which Morocco closed unilaterally in 2018. It should be noted that Ceuta and Melilla, not being part of the customs territory of the European Union, are considered as external territories for such purposes.

Political repression in Algeria continues with no sign of improvement

February 22-February 22-About five years after the mass protests in Algeria that caused the resignation of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika in 2019, the status of the right to freedom of expression and political protest worsens by the day. The issue of opposition politicians, reporters and human rights defenders who have been imprisoned by the regime exceeds 1,000 people. From agreement with independent sources, more than 250 political prisoners have been released since February 2022. However, the issue of imprisoned opponents in the country continues to grow.


Morocco intercepted 90,000 migrants seeking to go to Spain in 2023

January 3-Rabat has reported that over the course of 2023 Moroccan Army units intercepted 87,000 migrants, both on land and sea routes, heading for Spain; the majority were of sub-Saharan origin. Thanks to the intensified surveillance and control of Moroccan territorial waters, it was possible to rescue more than 20,000 people on boats sailing to the Canary Islands.

After a controversial vote, Morocco to chair the UN Human Rights committee

Jan. 10-Omar Zniber, Moroccan ambassador to the UN Human Rights committee , has been elected as the next president of this body for 2024 with 30 votes in favor, compared to 17 votes for the South African candidate ; it is the first time that position has not been appointed by consensus. Several countries opposed the Moroccan nomination, considering that the government violates human rights in Western Sahara.

Algeria resumes trade relations after the return of its ambassador to Spain

17 January- association Algerian Banks and Financial Institutions has authorized the import of poultry products, a first step towards the thawing of trade relations with Spain, broken after Madrid's support for Morocco's autonomy plan proposal for Western Sahara in June 2022.

Algeria prohibits the entrance of goods that have passed through Moroccan ports.

January 18-The Algerian government has decided to veto the entrance of products that have passed through Moroccan ports. The Alawite kingdom sees this as an attempt by Algeria to benefit Spanish ports and thus accelerate the thaw in relations between Algiers and Madrid.

The Supreme Court rules against the hot return of minors who entered Ceuta in 2021.

January 22-The Supreme Court considers that the Spanish authorities violated the agreement European Convention on Human Rights, which prohibits "collective expulsions of foreigners". Between May 17 and 18, 2021, 12,000 migrants, of whom 1,500 were unaccompanied minors, were entrance in Ceuta. The government of the autonomous city of Ceuta defended the legality of the refoulement by invoking agreement between Spain and Morocco of 2007, but the Supreme Court established that the authorities did not respect the Law on Aliens or the European Human Rights agreement .


Albares visit Rabat to strengthen diplomatic ties

December 14-Spanish Foreign Minister José Manuel Albares has visited Rabat with the goal to "relaunch the roadmap" agreed between Spain and Morocco in April 2022. Addressing issues such as the joint organization of the 2030 World Cup and the upcoming visit of Pedro Sanchez to Morocco, the meeting aims to strengthen diplomatic ties between the two countries in a month of critical importance for Rabat, which this month will also receive important diplomats from Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso, as well as Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. December appears to be a turning point for Moroccan foreign policy, which sets its sights on the Sahel while strengthening its strategic diplomatic position with its Spanish neighbor.

Tunisia sample more open to cooperate with the EU

Dec. 15-Tunisia's coast guard has improved its figures for interceptions of irregular migrants heading for the European continent. The migration route from Tunisia to Italian territory has become the busiest in the Mediterranean in 2023. In September, interceptions grew by 21%, 82% in October and 54% in November.

Closure of Ceuta and Melilla customs offices continues

Dec. 18-The customs offices of the Spanish autonomous cities of Ceuta and Melilla remain closed for goods coming from Morocco. This status has been going on since 2018 when the North African country cut off the flow of goods between Morocco and both cities. The Spanish Foreign Minister, José Manuel Albares, commented in an interview recently that "everything is ready so that the customs of Ceuta and Melilla can open tomorrow." However, the Moroccan customs is not ready due to "technical problems", although Albares indicated that the status will be unblocked shortly, which will be an important boost to the Economics of the autonomous cities.

The triumvirate of cooperation in North Africa: Rabat-Abu Dhabi-Tel Aviv

Dec. 28-The year that is ending has been characterized by a marked increase in economic and military cooperation between three key players in the Arab world and the Middle East. Following the Abraham Accords in 2020, which initiated the process of normalization of relations of Morocco and the United Arab Emirates with Israel, a high level of coordination has been observed between the three countries in terms of development of both a political and economic strategy for the African continent. Military arms sales from Tel Aviv and Abu Dhabi to Rabat have increased, while all three countries benefit more and more each year from the US Foreign Military Sales program. Consequently, for their customers in the Sahel region and further south, the growing cooperation with this bloc of countries, whose military capabilities are backed by Washington, means a leap in the influence of these countries in the region, which tends to be mutually exclusive with the influence of their rivals, mainly Algeria, Russia and Iran.

Algeria continues normalization of relations with Spain 

December 28-Spain and Algeria continue to take steps to reestablish full relations. According to Algerian Foreign Minister Ahmed Attaf, the turning point came after Pedro Sanchez's speech at the UN General Assembly. The minister also stated that this speech meant a return of Spain to the 'European position' which is based on seeking a solution in 'the framework of the UN charter and the resolutions of the UN Security committee '. Attaf also underlined that Spain 'is the colonizing power of the Sahara' and therefore must seek a peaceful solution to the conflict. Bilateral relations between Spain and Algeria appear to be at their best since the North African country's suspension of the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in 2022. The appointment in November of Abdelfettah Daghmoum as the new ambassador to Spain was the first such step towards improving diplomatic relations between the two countries.



Spain and Algeria re-establish diplomatic relations after 19 months of rupture

November 4-After Spain broke with the tradition of neutrality on Western Sahara and Algiers recalled its ambassador from Madrid leaving the post vacant for 19 months, the governments of Algiers and Madrid have re-established diplomatic relations, important on migration and terrorism issues.

Moroccan forces prevent 300 migrants from jumping Ceuta's fence 

November 17-A convoy of 700 migrants has arrived at the southern border of Tarajal, the border fence separating Ceuta from Morocco, prompting the deployment of Moroccan security forces to prevent passage. Some 300 immigrants have managed to approach the fence, but the intervention of a helicopter has prevented them from jumping it. The Guardia Civil was on alert and deployed on the Spanish side, but did not have to intervene. It was one of the most numerous attempts to jump the fence in recent years.

Washington denies bilateral contacts with Polisario in Algeria

November 21-Washington denies that its ambassador to Algeria, Elizabeth Moore Aubin, has had a bilateral meeting with the Polisario Front in Tindouf, western Algeria. The ambassador's visit to the town, which has a large refugee camp, was organized by the United Nations and was carried out "together with a wide range of international donors". The USA maintains its position on the autonomy plan for the Sahara proposed by Morocco as "credible, serious and realistic".

Increased agri-food cooperation between Spain and Tunisia

November 22-Luis Planas, Minister of Agriculture of Spain has held a meeting with his Tunisian counterpart, Abdelmonem Belaati, during the committee of Members of the International Olive Oil committee held in Madrid. Both have agreed to strengthen bilateral cooperation between the two countries in the agri-food sector.

Spain and Morocco agree to promote bilateral diary

Nov. 28-In a telephone call Pedro Sánchez and Moroccan Prime Minister Aziz Ajanuch agreed on the importance of the friendship between Morocco and Spain and pledged to push forward the measures agreed between the two countries for a better relationship, which implies the opening of customs in Ceuta and Melilla. Sanchez, as the rotating president of the EU committee , would like to strengthen the relationship between the EU-27 and Rabat.

Morocco, Portugal and Spain sign agreement to host the World Cup 2030

November 30-The soccer federations of the three countries have signed the agreement where they accept their commitments to respect the rules and regulations imposed by FIFA to host the 2030 World Cup. The Royal Spanish Football Federation pointed out the importance of demonstrating the unique cultures of each host country, showing the partnership between Europe, Africa and the rest of the world.



Tunisia rejects "charity" from Brussels

Oct. 3-The Tunisian president has rejected funds offered by the EU to stem migration to Europe. After meeting with his foreign minister, he indicated that Tunisia accepts cooperation, but not "charity" from the EU. The funds included in the memorandum, of about 100 million euros, will prevent tragedies in the Mediterranean, according to the EU.

Spanish and Morocco address cooperation and women's leadership

October 11-Nadia Calviño, acting Second Vice-President, discussed with Nadia Fettah, Minister of Economics and Finance of Morocco, the importance of economic cooperation between the two countries and the relevance of the 2023 Annual Meetings of the IMF and the World Bank taking place on the African continent. subject During the meeting , the progress made by the Government of Spain in gender equality, part of the Recovery Plan and support for women entrepreneurs in Morocco, was highlighted. Spain supports exchanges between women entrepreneurs in Marrakech and Madrid to consolidate the network of support and partnership between women.

Blinken and Bourita: Preventing escalation in the Middle East

October 12-The US Secretary of State met with his Moroccan counterpart shortly after Israel's military operations to combat the Hamas offensive. Naser Bourita participated in the emergency session of the Arab League to discuss the siege in Gaza, and in his conversation with Antony Blinken both have recalled the importance of peace and cooperation in the region in order to reach the stabilization and development appropriate.

Mohamed VI extends social aid against poverty

October 13-After remembering the victims and the efforts of Moroccans following the earthquake of September 8, Mohamed VI announced the extension of social assistance for school children and the disabled as well as for all those living in precarious situations in the country.

Nine Arab countries call for an end to the punishment of Gaza

October 26-The governments of much of the Arabian Peninsula plus Morocco have demanded that Israel stop "flagrant violations of international law" and are asking the United Nations Security committee for an "immediate" cease-fire. Among these are several who signed the Abraham Accords to normalize diplomatic relations with Israel and fear the spillover of the conflict into the Middle East.

The Polisario reproaches Sumar for not including the return to the traditional position on the Sahara by agreeing again with PSOE

25 October-Abdullah Arabi, delegate of the Polisario Front in Spain, has reproached Sumar for having lost the "historic opportunity" to return to the traditional position on the Sahara after not having included it in the agreement of government with the PSOE. According to the Polisario delegate, Spain "continues to be the administering power" of the territory and the turn of Sanchez meant the "rupture of a unanimous consensus of the Spanish foreign policy". In any case, he indicated that Sumar and the PSOE are still in time to ensure respect for international law and to put an end to the plundering of natural resources in the territory of Western Sahara.

Algeria sees no immediate change in "stagnant" relationship with Spain

October 29- Algerian Foreign Minister Ahmed Attaf assures that, despite the economic repercussions, he does not see a rapprochement with Spain as feasible after the breakdown of the Treaty of Friendship with Spain in 2022 following the support of Pedro Sanchez's government for the incorporation of Western Sahara into Morocco.

Germany and Morocco come closer to speeding up deportations

October 30-German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser signed a declaration of intent with her Moroccan counterpart Abdelouafi Laftit, which reflects the willingness of the North African country to accept a larger issue number of deportation requests from asylum seekers. This is an important step for Germany, where 3,660 Moroccans with deportation orders live. This procedure of return to their countries of origin is a complicated procedure as charter flights are not allowed where a larger group would fly, but must be made in regular flights, which causes problems for the applicants to get on the plane or to present their documentation. This declaration represents an improvement in relations between the two countries, which had seen doubts arise in their diplomatic status after the Moroccan rejection of the German financial aid during the earthquake last September.

Polisario Front attacks on Morocco intensify

October 31-Sidi Mohamed Omar, ambassador of the Polisario Front recalled at the UN that Morocco and the Polisario Front have been at war again for more than three years, and confirmed attacks on the sectors of Smara, Farisa and Mahbes, which resulted in the death of a 23 year old young man and three wounded, which is the worst balance of casualties since the upsurge of hostilities. In the meantime, the UN's mission statement for the Sahara (Minurso) has renewed its mandate despite its failure to resolve a status where Morocco defends its autonomy plan and the Polisario Front a referendum for the region.

In the picture

Earthquake relief in the town of Moulay Brahim [alyaoum24].


Severe earthquake in Morocco

September 8-16-On the night of September 8, Morocco awoke to an earthquake measuring 6.4 on the Richter scale and IX on the Mercalli scale, with its epicenter in the High Atlas region, southwest of the historic city of Marrakech.

The first moments after the shock, of great confusion, already gave an inkling that the consequences of the earthquake would be catastrophic for a population unprepared for a phenomenon of this magnitude. issue The number of victims grew alarmingly as the days went by, reaching a staggering 2,900 dead and 5,500 wounded.

In addition to this high price in human lives, the earthquake, the most intense since the one that the Maghreb country suffered in February 2004, which then caused some 600 deaths, has caused a destruction that has left thousands of Moroccans in the open, lacking the most basic services, and initially at the risk of new aftershocks, and has damaged an important part of the national heritage, including the historic minaret of the Koutoubia.

The international community rushed to the rescue of the collapsed Moroccan emergency services in the face of the magnitude of the catastrophe. Contingents and equipment from Spain, the United Kingdom, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and even Algeria were dispatched to the affected region to try to alleviate the human suffering caused by the catastrophe and to restore normality as soon as possible.

Spain was one of the most agile countries in its support to the Moroccan authorities; only two days after the earthquake, the Madrid government dispatched a contingent of the Military Emergency Unit (UME) to the area to collaborate in the most urgent tasks of clearing the rubble and searching for victims. Meanwhile, and inexplicably, Rabat rejected offers of support from France and Germany, apparently for reasons related to the tension generated between Morocco and these two countries as a result of the eavesdropping carried out with the 'Pegasus' system.

The attitude of King Mohamed VI to the catastrophe was somewhat controversial. The action of the Moroccan government, firmly in the hands of the monarch, was conspicuous by its absence in the first moments after the earthquake. Within three days, the Moroccan authorities remained silent and it took more than seventy-two hours after the earthquake for Mohammed VI to travel from Paris to Morocco and be seen at the University Hospital in Marrakech talking to the earthquake victims and making a blood donation for the injured.

Making a virtue out of necessity, the North African country could take advantage of this tragedy to make an exercise of introspection and review in depth the consequences that the earthquake has had on people and infrastructure to try to mitigate them if a similar case occurs again. More important, however, would be to remodel the national emergency services, the decision-making and response procedures and, especially important, the role that the Alawite Monarchy plays in them. A mere return to pre-earthquake normalcy would merely recreate the same conditions that have allowed the earthquake to have resulted in such a high casualty toll issue .

Tensions continue to rise between Morocco and the Polisario Front:

September 2-The Polisario Front has declared three days of national mourning following the death of a senior military position and three soldiers in a Moroccan attack near the separation wall. One of the deceased was Abba Ali Hamudi, member of the Polisario Front national administrative office and commander of the 6th military region. Abba Ali was in the area leading the Saharawi resistance against Morocco after the end of the cease-fire between the two in 2020. These events add to the sporadic clashes which have been taking place since the end of the cease-fire and which only increase the tension in the area, making a short term solution more and more difficult deadline for the region.

Algeria reopens its airspace to support Morocco:

September 10-The Algerian government has shown in a statement its solidarity with the Moroccan people for the earthquake suffered. In the same statement, Algeria has announced the reopening of its airspace to facilitate the arrival of humanitarian financial aid . The Maghreb country had closed its airspace due to the tensions that have occurred in recent months in the sub-Saharan region, especially in Niger. These gestures allow to continue improving the relations between both governments, something remarkable after the serious diplomatic crisis occurred with the Spanish recognition of Western Sahara as part of the Moroccan territory and the Pegasus espionage case.

Tunisian veto of a European Parliament delegation:

September 14-The controversy continues in the Maghreb country, following the veto imposed on a European Parliament commission that was going to Tunisia to evaluate the country's political status following the unfavorable report of another commission in 2022. The committee was scheduled to meet with civil society actors, members of the civil service examination, trade unions and political leaders. German MEP Michael Galher, leader of the mission statement, called the conduct "unprecedented" at least since 2011. This course of action comes as a surprise after the meetings held between the Kais Saied government and the European Commission in which a controversial migration agreement similar to the one agreed with Turkey was achieved.

Heavy fires and floods in Algeria:

September 16-Northern Algeria has been suffering in recent weeks from a chain of natural disasters in addition to those that have already occurred in the region and the earthquake in Morocco. In the Kabylia region, 50 forest fires were detected, affecting agricultural areas and forests. All but one have been brought under control, according to the Algerian fire department. The Kabylia area already suffered a serious crisis due to fires last year after which 34 corpses were identified. Similarly in the regions of Defla and Ben Djerad, 8 deaths have been quantified following severe flooding in the area.


Spain: the only Mediterranean country in the red for illegal immigration

August 8-Spain maintained a 3.3% drop in illegal immigration through July 31. It is currently the only country in the region to see a decline in these figures, while Greece and Italy see increasing numbers, up 115%. The Spanish government's foreign policy shift in 2022 regarding Western Sahara may have incentivized Morocco to try to stem the migration flow; in parallel, the political crises in Tunisia and Libya bring increasing emigration to Europe.

agreement Tunisia-Libya:

August 10-After the great controversy provoked by the death and withdrawal of a group of migrants at the Tunisian-Libyan border, the governments of the two countries have reached a agreement to share responsibility for the sub-Saharan migrants stranded in the desert. The Tunisian spokesman reported that his government would position of 126 migrants. This agreement comes in the midst of the controversy over the migration agreement between the European Union and the Tunisian government. It agreed to pay money and technical support to the Maghreb country for keeping migrants within Tunisia's borders. At least 27 people have died during this crisis due to the desert climate of the Tunisian-Libyan border.

visit Algerian foreign minister to Washington

August 9-Algerian Foreign Minister Ahmad Attaf met with his US counterpart Anthony Blinken in Washington, where they discussed several points of mutual interest, such as cooperation on the political crisis in Niger and Algeria's ascension to the UN Security Council next year committee . Attaf concluded the meeting by expressing his satisfaction with Blinken's position on the topic of the sovereignty of Western Sahara, since, he said, the current US administration, without retracting the Trump administration's symbolic recognition in 2020 of Moroccan sovereignty over the territory, does not consider the Sahara as part of Morocco.

Algeria and the sub-Saharan dilemma:

August 8-The Algerian government finds itself in a dilemma with its policy of non-alignment. Successive coups in the Sahel region (Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger) leave Algeria in the dilemma of supporting Russia and or the European Union. While Russia is its main arms provider , the European Union has become its most important economic partner (due to the purchase mainly of gas). Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune declared that "Algeria will not use force against its neighbors, just as there will be no solution without Algeria". The Maghreb country is concerned about its southern border, where illegal immigration networks and jihadism present a serious problem for the central government.

New controversy over Ceuta and Melilla:

August 22-A map published by the Moroccan embassy in Spain, with Ceuta and Melilla forming part of Moroccan territory, has once again revived tensions between the two countries. The Spanish Foreign Ministry has reaffirmed in a statement the Spanishness of the autonomous cities. This follows the controversy over the sending of a letter to the European Union by Morocco in which it referred to Ceuta and Melilla as part of its national territory. The president of Melilla, Javier Imbroda, has protested this by demanding a "formal complaint" from the ministry, which has not happened.

Mauritania refuses to disembark a cayuco intercepted by Spain

August 27-A Spanish patrol has intercepted a cayuco with 168 migrants almost 150 kilometers off the coast of Mauritania. The boat had apparently departed from Senegal with the intention of landing in the Canary Islands. The Mauritanian Navy has refused to authorize the landing of the cayuco in the port of Nouadhibou. The migrants have been waiting since Thursday, August 24, for the dispute between the Guardia Civil and the Mauritanian authorities to be resolved.

U.S. expresses support for resolution of Western Sahara conflict through the UN

August 31-The manager of the U.S. State Department's department for North Africa, Josh Harris, visit Morocco and Algeria to reaffirm Washington's support for the UN political process aimed at resolving the Western Sahara sovereignty issue. This visit follows meetings of Secretary of State Anthony Blinken with the Moroccan and Algerian foreign ministers.

JULY 2023

The end of the agreement fishing site poses an uncertain future

July 17-After the termination of the fishing protocol between Morocco and the European Union (previously declared illegal by the General Court of the EU), a new question mark has arisen as to what will happen to fishing in the waters adjacent to Western Sahara. The previous protocol was declared illegal because it did not have the approval of the Saharawi people and their representatives of the Polisario Front; in that agreement 128 licenses were granted to European vessels (98 of them to Spanish vessels) in exchange for an annual fee of 50 million euros by Morocco. However, the North African country is now looking for another subject of agreement to attract investments to an important sector of the country such as fishing (it represents 2.3 % of the GDP) and to remove the ghosts of the self-determination of the Sahara. However, from the Polisario Front the idea of granting licenses to the boats that want to fish in the Sahara coast is transmitted, since what was happening until now was an act of "piracy". Meanwhile the fishermen from Cadiz and the Canary Islands, who are demanding aid, as well as a reconversion of the Spanish fishing fleet to be able to face this crisis subject without losing productivity, are particularly affected.

Brussels and Tunisia agree on agreement in the face of criticism.

July 17-Tunisian President Kais Saied, accompanied by his European counterparts Mark Rutte and Georgia Meloni, and the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, has announced the formalization of a migration pact with the Commission, whereby Europe will allocate economic and logistical resources to support Tunisia in alleviating the migratory flow from Africa to Europe. The agreement has been criticized by several media. Notably, Amnesty International calls Europe "complicit" for not only allowing, but supporting what it considers to be human rights abuses against African migrants in the Maghreb country. Von der Leyen is also criticized for the Commission's mere willingness to enter into agreements with authoritarian rulers, knowing that the Tunisian president has been undermining the country's democratic process since the suspension of the national parliament in 2021.

Extending diplomatic support for Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara

July 17-Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announces the opening of an Israeli consulate in Dakhla. King Mohammed VI has welcomed diplomatic support not only from Israel, but from 27 other countries that have already opened consulates in Dakhla and recognized Moroccan sovereignty over the territory, including Senegal, Côte d'Ivoire and the United Arab Emirates, among others. The 'quid pro quo' pact between Morocco and Israel follows the normalization of relations between the two countries initiated in 2020 with the backing of the former U.S. administration. A senior Moroccan government official has stated that the development does not alter the Mohammed VI government's position on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Elections in Spain: between Moroccan relief and Algerian disappointment

July 28-The inconclusive result of the general elections in Spain has unleashed different, though both very cautious, reactions in Morocco and Algeria. Morocco, on the one hand, sees complacently the improbability of a change of government in Spain, whose permanence would ensure the continuation of Spanish foreign policy, perceived as favorable by Rabat. On the other hand, Algeria sample is mute disappointment at the lack of change. Algiers had already expressed its intentions to wait for the election results to begin the process of repairing diplomatic ties with Spain, effectively broken since the Sanchez government changed its position on the sovereignty of Western Sahara in favor of Morocco.

Mohammed VI, for better relations with Algeria

July 30-King Mohammed VI has declared his intentions to promote diplomatic ties with Algeria, despite tension over the international community's growing diplomatic recognition of Morocco's sovereignty over Western Sahara. Immediately after the speech, the Dominican Republic became the latest country to recognize Morocco's claim to the territory, following more than twenty other states that have expressed their intentions to open diplomatic consulates in the territory. Algeria remains reluctant to accept the king's outreach, after the Moroccan ambassador to the UN expressed his support for the self-determination of the Kabylie people in Algeria.

Algeria is the largest supplier of fuel to Spain provider

July 31-Algeria emerges from July as the largest provider of natural gas to Spain, supplying 28.7% of the country's monthly energy demand. It thus surpasses the next largest suppliers, Russia (27.6%), the United States (19.1%) and Nigeria (13.9%). This places Spain, therefore, as the top provider supplier of natural gas to the rest of Europe, with 99% of its subway natural gas storage capacity filled. Algeria thus hopes to replace Russia as the largest source of fuel for the European continent, even in the context of the current poor relations with Spain.

JUNE 2023

The EU is considering a 900 million financial aid package for Tunisia.

June 11, 2023-Ursula Von der Leyen, chairwoman of the EU commission, together with the prime ministers of Italy and the Netherlands, announces the possible financial aid of 900 million euros to alleviate the Tunisian crisis provided Tunisia completes negotiations with the International Monetary Fund. The chairwoman of the EU commission says that 150 million euros could be made available immediately at submit .

One year after the end of Spain-Algeria relations

June 12-A year has passed since the end of relations between Spain and Algeria, when the government of the North African country suspended the friendship treaty linking the two countries and imposed a veto on Spanish companies as a result of the turnaround on Western Sahara by the government of Pedro Sanchez. Spanish businessmen and their Algerian counterparts are waiting for a solution to the conflict in view of the institutional withdrawal they are suffering. The solution to the current situation would be a change of government in Spain after the July 23 elections or a process of reopening through diplomatic contacts with the European Union. Gas trade between both countries has been reduced by 42% during the last year according to the latest data.

African Lion 2023' military exercise completed in Morocco

June 21-Morocco's largest military exercise, with the participation of 14 nations including the U.S. and Israel, comes to an end to strengthen defense and security cooperation in the region. This is the 19th edition of these military exercises, held in 7 regions of Morocco and held annually with the U.S. Africa Command.

The Polisario Front trusts in Feijóo

June 25-The representative of the Polisario Front in Spain, Abdullah Arabi, gave an interview to Europa Press where he has again rejected the position of the Spanish Prime Minister, Pedro Sanchez, to support the autonomy plan for the Sahara defended by Morocco, considering it "the most solid, credible and realistic basis". Abdullah affirms that he has dialogue with all the Spanish political parties (including the PP, in whose last congress he was present). The Polisario leader comments that should the PP reach the Moncloa, it should "transform its words into deeds" and reverse the Spanish support for the Moroccan autonomy plan. In spite of this, he remarks that his principal goal remains that Spain fulfills its commitments as administering power of the Saharawi territory independently of which party is in power.

Algeria's president affirms that the country "is not a source of threat or aggression against anyone".

June 26-After the military maneuvers in Yelfa, Algerian President Abdelmayid Tebune has assured that his country "is a fortress of peace and security"; he affirms that Algeria will do its utmost to protect the borders and combat illegal migration.

Concerns about Mohamed IV's health

June 27-The 60-year-old Alawite monarch is clearly in physical decline, raising questions about succession to the throne. Mohammed VI suffers from an autoimmune disease known as sarcoidosis and has undergone surgery for various causes since 2018. His first-born son and heir is Prince Mouley Hassin, son of Lalla Selma, whom the monarch divorced in 2018. The king also has a brother, Prince Moulay Rachid, and three sisters who have power. The first has gained institutional weight and represented Mohammed VI at the funeral of Elizabeth II. However, the succession is clearly marked since the entrance in force of a new constitution in 2011, which designated Mouley Hassin as the successor to the throne. The heir turned 20 last month, marking an important milestone as he would have been subject to a regency committee had he ruled between the ages of 18 and 19.

In the picture

Embarkation in Operation Strait [Protección Civil].

MAY 2023

The African Bank of development (ADB) recommends that the preliminary agreement between Tunisia and the IMF be concluded.

May 26-The ADB will push for Tunisia to conclude the preliminary agreement of the $1.9 billion loan with the IMF, pending agreement since late 2022. Such coordination between the North African country and the international monetary fund would stabilize the country's Economics and unlock financing from other partners for Tunisia.

Algeria awaits J-23 to reestablish relations with Spain

May 30-Following the severing of diplomatic relations after the Spanish government's new stance on the Saharawi issue, Algiers has ceased relations with Spain and blocked gas pipelines to the Iberian peninsula. Although Algiers classifies as "welcome" the change of political color in Madrid, it is also fearful and cautious about what will happen in the next general elections on July 23, hoping for better relations with Madrid.

research of mail-ballotting networks in Melilla reveals alleged involvement of local political parties

May 20-The National Police is conducting a research on alleged vote-by-mail networks in Melilla. So far, a total of 11,707 postal vote requests have been received, representing 21.21% of the total number of votes, more than double compared to the 2019 elections. However, only 921 ballots have been delivered to the corresponding office, equivalent to 7.8% of the requests. The research focuses mainly on members of the local Coalition for Melilla party, although other parties are also being investigated. Arrests have been made and indications of electoral fraud have been found. The electoral board of zone has demanded the presentation of the identity document at submit the postal vote in person. The JEZ has rejected the application that the votes be deposited in a separate ballot box on election day. Coalición por Melilla plans to challenge this measure and present evidence against the Partido Popular. It has been revealed that vote-buying networks could use other strategies, such as accompanying voters to the post office to supervise the submission of the ballots. This vote-catching problem has been entrenched in Melilla for years due to the city's socioeconomic status .

Coordination meetings continue between Spain and Morocco for Operation Crossing the Strait 2023

May 17-The Spanish-Moroccan Joint Commission has met in Madrid to finalize the details of the Special Civil Protection Plan for the OPE-23 to be carried out in the coming weeks. It has also been discussed the operational devices that will be used in the operation, which will be similar to those established in the previous year. Both have agreed on the reinforcement and coordination of the channels of exchange of information to continue working in maritime crossings.

The leader of the Tunisian civil service examination has been convicted of glorifying terrorism.

May 16-The leader of the Islamist Ennahda movement, Rachid Ghanuchi, is to pay an amount of 3,000 euros and one year in prison for glorification of terrorism. The Ennahda movement has condemned the verdict as a political trial. In addition to the arrest and conviction of the Ennahda leader, its headquarters have been closed and its members are banned from meeting . 

In the picture

Boat of migrants heading to Lampedusa, Italy [Micniosi/Wikimedia].

APRIL 2023

Italy's plan to prevent migration flow from Tunisia

April 1, 2023-Italian Interior Minister Matteo Piantedozi presented a plan to control Tunisia's coasts through joint patrols with the neighboring country to prevent the flow of migrants to Italian shores. In addition, he plans to intensify intelligence activity in the port of Sfax to stop the construction of boats carrying illegal migrants. The plan also includes declaring a state of emergency on the islands of Lampedusa and Pantelleria, establishing new shelters and speeding up the deportation of migrants. Piantedozi warned of the arrival of more than 400,000 irregular migrants in Italy by the end of the year. The plan focuses mainly on Tunisia and the city of Benghazi, in eastern Libya, considered one of the main departure points for boats carrying illegal migrants to Italy. The minister also spoke of the possibility of involving the Armed Forces to monitor the coasts and combat the phenomenon of clandestine migration. The plan also includes granting attendance financial to Tunisia and Libya as compensation for each migrant who is sent back after their asylum application is rejected.

Algeria approves new media law limiting press freedom

April 14-The Algerian parliament has C a new media law that tightens control over journalists' work and imposes new restrictions. While the government claims the law is core topic to guarantee the free exercise of media activity under legal control, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said the law includes "negative chapters" that constitute a violation of press freedom. The new law de facto excludes binationals from the right to own or contribute to the ownership of a media outlet in Algeria. Journalist Ihsane El Kadi, an activist critical of the government, was sentenced to five years in prison this month, which was condemned by human rights organizations such as Amnesty International and the committee for the Protection of Journalists (CPJ).

New US-Morocco 'African Lion' military maneuvers

April 19-Morocco and the United States have announced the XIX 'African Lion' maneuvers where more than 6,000 soldiers from both countries will participate in Moroccan territory. The exercises will involve air, land and sea forces and will include nuclear, biological and radioactive contamination maneuvers and Chemistry. More than 27 countries will attend as observers.

Opposition leader Rached Ghannouchi killed in Tunisia

April 20-Tunisian civil service examination leader Rached Ghannouchi was arrested on charges of "conspiracy against state security." Ghannouchi, who leads the Ennahda political party, was arrested after he made comments about the possibility of civil war if Islamist and leftist politicians are excluded from political dialogue. Experts believe that President Kais Saied is using Ghannouchi's arrest to restrict political plurality and public freedoms in Tunisia. The arrest comes amid fears that Western countries, concerned about migration and the threat from Russia and China in the region, will not press Saied for political plurality and human rights in the country.

Macron and Tebune to meet in France in June

April 23-Algerian President Abdelmayid Tebune has agreed to meet French President Emmanuel Macron in June to finalize the process of normalization of bilateral relations between France and Algeria. The diplomatic crisis between the two countries was deemed resolved last month with the advertisement that the Algerian ambassador would return to Paris. It remains to be seen whether this next visit will serve as an end point in the series of ups and downs that bilateral relations between the two countries have suffered in recent years (since Tebune's rise to power), within the context of the growing diplomatic rejection by several African countries of the rapprochement of their former colonizer, the French state.

30 million for electricity connection between Morocco and the United Kingdom

April 27-The business Abu Dhabi National Energy Co. (TAQA) and Octopus Energy Group will finance the £30 million ($37 million) project electricity interconnection between Morocco and the United Kingdom. TAQA will contribute £25 million and Octopus Energy £5 million. The project, to be constructed by Xlinks First Ltd, involves the installation of high-voltage submarine cables between the UK and Morocco, passing through Portuguese, Spanish and French waters. Once completed, the project will provide 3.6 gigawatts of electricity generated from renewable sources in southern Morocco, representing 8% of the UK's current energy needs and will power 7 million UK homes by the end of this decade.

Morocco starts selling Russian diesel to Spain

April 28-Significant voices in the Spanish government and energy sector have denounced this week that there are diesel imports into the country whose purchase would violate the European rules and regulations on the purchase of the fuel from Russia, which has been banned since February 5. The Minister of Ecological Transition, Teresa Ribera, has declared that the Spanish government is investigating any irregularity that may have occurred in the purchase of diesel that violates the European rules and regulations , following public statements by Repsol's CEO warning that Russian diesel was still infiltrating the European energy market. Morocco, which had not sold diesel to Spain since 2015, recently dealt with Moscow for the purchase of diesel on a large scale, putting Spanish and European authorities on alert about the firmness of the sanctions imposed on the import of Russian fuel.

Alternativa foundation believes Spain breaks active neutrality between Algeria and Morocco

April 30-The Alternativa foundation says that the letter from Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez supporting the Western Sahara autonomy plan has broken Spain's active neutrality in relation to the rivalry between Algeria and Morocco. The change of position, according to Alternativa, was adopted to stem the flow of migration, and although it has broken the relationship between Spain and Algeria, it has notably improved diplomatic relations between Morocco and Spain, as was seen at the high-level meeting held in February in the Moroccan capital. For the foundation, although relations between Spain and Morocco have improved, Morocco-Algeria relations, which have always had ups and downs, have been more damaged.


MARCH 2023

40th committee Arab Ministers of the Interior in Tunisia

March 1, 2023-TunisianPresident Kais Saied met with Saudi Interior Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Saud and several other Arab interior ministers during the 40th session of the committee of Arab Interior Ministers. Saied emphasized the importance of committee in coordinating security cooperation among Arab countries and expressed his hope that meeting will achieve the aspirations of Arab leaders and peoples. The session took place at a time of serious conflicts and civil unrest in the Arab region, and the Arab League's University Secretary called for an integrated security vision that considers the social conditions created by recent world events. The Arab League chief also affirmed that eradicating Daesh ideology from Arab countries is the most effective way to combat terrorism.

Kais Saied increases crackdown on sub-Saharan migrants

March 2, 2023-TheTunisian president unleashed a wave of attacks against the sub-Saharan immigrant population in the Maghreb country, in a deterioration of social conditions that leaves "unrecognizable the country of the birth of the Arab Spring of 2011", where an emerging democracy has dangerously regressed to resemble a police state. Abuses of property and physical integrity of the sub-Saharan population were reported in the media, which the president described as a risk to the country's security. The new wave of repression came as the country's financial crisis worsened, with the promised IMF bailout still distant.

Tunisian President announces plans to dissolve municipal governments, create special councils

March 8, 2023-Tunisia's President Kais Saied announced his intention to dissolve municipal governments and replace them with special elected councils under new rules he will establish. Saied criticized the existing municipalities and called the elected councils "states within the state" and said they are not "neutral." The municipal councils were created after the 2014 constitution, which called for decentralization. Saied has replaced this constitution with one he wrote himself that was approved in a referendum last year. The concentration of power in the presidency has been criticized by the civil service examination as an anti-democratic coup, and the arrest of critics and political opponents has further heightened concerns about the weakening of democracy. Saied's advertisement on special councils was met with skepticism by some, and is expected to cause further division in the country.

Borrell visit Algeria as mediator in the diplomatic crisis with Madrid

March 14, 2023-JosepBorrell, Vice-President of the European Commission has visited Algiers to try to remedy the breakdown in trade relations between Algeria and Madrid, which remain virtually broken after what the Algerian President described as a "false step" by Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez in supporting Morocco's sovereignty over Western Sahara. Although there had been no major change so far, the visit was expected to help ease tensions, just as French President Emmanuel Macron managed to resume diplomatic relations with Algeria through a phone call. Borrell maintains that Algeria's economic potential is far greater than a fuel exporter to the European Union, and that it is in their mutual interest to help diversify their Economics and renewable energy supply.

Algerian President Tebune appoints new foreign minister after cabinet reshuffle

March 16, 2023-Algeria's President Abdelmayid Tebune carried out a cabinet reshuffle that included the appointment of Ahmed Attaf as the new foreign minister to replace Ramtane Lamamra. Changes were also made in other ministries, with the dismissal of some disgraced ministers and the appointment of new incumbents. However, the ministers of the Interior and Justice retained their posts in the government.

U.S. Secretary of State meets with Morocco's Foreign Minister in Washington D.C.

March 20, 2023-U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Morocco's Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita in Washington, D.C. During the meeting, they discussed the stabilization that Morocco provides in the Middle East and Africa, as well as its role in fostering peace and security in the region. In addition, they discussed status in Israel and the West Bank and efforts to reduce regional tensions. They also discussed the war in Ukraine, support for elections in Libya and instability in the Sahel. Both expressed their full support for UN Envoy staff of University Secretary Staffan de Mistura to advance a lasting and dignified political solution to the Western Sahara conflict. The Secretary of State stressed that the United States considers Morocco's Autonomy Plan to be serious, credible, realistic and a possible solution to meet the aspirations of the people of Western Sahara.

Relations between Algeria and Morocco reach "point of no return" over Western Sahara dispute

March 22, 2023-AlgerianPresident Abdelmadjid Tebboune said his country's relationship with Morocco has reached "the point of no return." The two North African nations have been embroiled in a decades-long dispute over Western Sahara, with Algiers backing the separatist Polisario movement seeking independence for a territory Rabat claims as its own. The dispute has led to a breakdown in diplomatic relations, with tensions heightened by differences over Israel. Tebboune also accused Spain of partiality toward Morocco, as Madrid backed a 2007 proposal by Rabat to offer Western Sahara autonomy under its sovereignty.

France announces return of Algerian ambassador to Paris

March 24, 2023-Aftera month without an Algerian representative in Paris, the Elysée announced a agreement with Algeria to improve their relationship. A month ago Algeria called the ambassador in Paris to return to Algiers after a legal dispute related to the French-Algerian activist Amira Bouraoui and her escape to France. A phone call between the heads of state has announced the return of the ambassador as well as an official visit of President Macron to Algiers.

The end of the status quo status quo for the Brussels-Rabat fishing agreement

March 26, 2023-The agreement fisheries agreement between Morocco and the European Union expires onJuly 17, 2023, urging both parties to seek a solution. Fishing activity in Moroccan waters, most of it Spanish, brings 50 million euros a year to the Maghreb country. However, the Supreme Court of the European Union is expected to rule against a renewal of this agreement, because of the lack of consideration of the interests of the Saharawi people in it. The European Commission, hand in hand with committee, has so far negotiated exclusively with the government of Mohammed VI, despite the insistence of the judiciary to include the Polisario Front.

Cambodia expresses full support for Morocco's sovereignty in Western Sahara

March 27, 2023-Ata meeting between the foreign ministers of Morocco and Cambodia, a joint statement was issued in which Cambodia expressed its full support for Morocco's sovereignty and territorial integrity in Western Sahara, as well as its respect for Morocco's efforts to reach a political solution to the dispute in the region. The two countries also plan to sign cooperation agreements, including the agreement Air Services, to promote partnership in tourism, business and trade. Morocco has been working to strengthen relations with Cambodia as part of its strategy to enhance South-South cooperation.


European Parliament condemns Morocco without the support of Sanchez and PSOE

January 19, 2023-TheEuropean Parliament has C a resolution urging to restrict the access of Moroccan diplomatic representatives to the European Parliament while the research in Europe on Qatargate, where Rabat has also been implicated, is taking place. In the final result , of the 32 votes against the resolution, more than half were from Spanish Socialists, amid reports that Pedro Sanchez himself had ordered to vote against the resolution so as not to jeopardize the high-level summit between Spain and Morocco in early February.

Morocco sends tanks to Ukraine

December 19, 2023-Moroccohas authorized the submission to Ukraine of T-72B tank parts, as well as that 20 units of these vehicles that were being modernized in the Czech Republic can also be sent to Ukraine, after being acquired by a third country. Thus, Morocco has become the first African country to supply attendance military to Ukraine, breaking with the de facto neutrality adopted by African countries in the conflict.

Morocco's Prime Minister puts his country as a pioneer in solar energy

January 19, 2023-AzizAjanuch affirms at the Davos Forum (Switzerland) his country's ambition to meet the goal target of reaching 52% renewable energy by 2030. According to the Prime Minister, Morocco has a great capacity to produce solar energy thanks to its favorable climate, with a average of 3,000 hours of sunshine per year, as well as the constancy of the wind, wind energy is also of important relevance. Renewable energy currently accounts for 32% of the energy produced in Morocco, making the country attractive for European investments.

Morocco negotiates with Israel for the recognition of Sahara

January 19, 2023-Rabatcontinues to insist that Tel-Aviv recognize Moroccan sovereignty over the territory of Western Sahara. King Mohammed VI wants to take advantage of the return to power of Benjamin Netanyahu, with whom he had agreed at the beginning of 2021 the opening of a Moroccan embassy in Tel-Aviv, to advance his purpose.

Brahmin Gali, leader of the Polisario Front, re-elected for a third term in office

January 22, 2023-Theleader of the Polisario Front since 2016, Brahim Gali, has been reelected by an absolute majority for a third term. Gali has stated that the strategy for this new mandate will focus on "intensifying the armed struggles" in response to the violation of the ceasefire agreed with Morocco in 1991. He also stressed the need for Spain to rectify the support shown for Morocco's plan for Western Sahara and urged respect for international legality on this issue.

Algeria and Italy announce the construction of a new gas pipeline

January 23, 2023-AbdelmadjidTebboune, President of Algeria, received the Italian Prime Minister, Giorgia Meloni, in Algiers to announce the study and subsequent construction of a new gas pipeline connecting Algeria to Italy. This is the project GALSI (Algeria-Sardinia Italy Gas Pipeline), which had been on the back burner since 2003. The pipeline is expected to transport not only gas, but also hydrogen, ammonia and electricity. Tebboune declared that the project "will guarantee Italy to be the great hub of southern Europe". Both leaders attended the signature of new agreements between the Algerian state-owned business Sonatrach (part of the consortium for the construction of GALSI) and the Italian ENI.

The Call of Tangier: proposal of Morocco to expel SADR from the African Union

January 28, 2023-meeting in Marrakech of former heads of government and former foreign ministers of African Union countries. Three new African politicians signed the "Tangier Appeal", which calls for the expulsion of the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) from the African Union (AU). In this first follow-up meeting of the proposal, the African politicians reiterated their commitment to the Moroccan sovereignty plan over Western Sahara and to the expulsion of SADR from the AU, considering it a non-state entity. The new signatories of the proposal are the former foreign ministers of Lesotho, Madagascar and Gambia. There are 19 African politicians who have signed the proposal since its presentation on November 4 last year in Tangier. The signatories have served in the governments of Guinea Bissau, Djibouti, Congo, Guinea, Eswatini, Benin, Comoros, Liberia, Gabon and Mali.

Second round of legislative elections in Tunisia

January 29, 2023-Thesecond round of the Tunisian legislative elections was widely rejected by the population, with only 11.3% of the electorate participating, thus showing their dissatisfaction with the increased powers granted to President Saied. The first round, with an even lower turnout, took place on December 17. The electoral authority has not yet released the results.



The King of Morocco invites President Abdelmadjid Tebboune to Rabat Abdelmadjid Tebboune to Rabat to re-establish diplomatic relations

November 2-MohammedVI of Morocco sent a formal invitation to the Algerian President for a bilateral meeting between the two heads of state. This summit would be dedicated to a normalization of diplomatic relations broken off in 2021 because of Western Sahara, and because of the absence of the Moroccan leader at the Arab League summit held on November 1 and 2 in Algiers.

Morocco and Algeria increase military expense amidst tensions

Nov. 8-Amidescalating tensions, both countries increased their defense budget by 2023 disproportionately. Both Morocco and Algeria have a defense expense of over 4%, with Algiers reaching 5.6% of its GDP in military spending. By 2023 Morocco will increase its defense budget by 3.6% and Algeria by 130%, amounting to a expense of $11 million and $23 million respectively, with both defense ministries having the second highest budget.

Algeria and Morocco compete for Nigerian gas pipeline to Europe

November 13-KingMohammed VI has expressed his support for a possible joint initiative between Morocco and Nigeria for the future gas pipeline to be born in Nigerian natural gas fields to reach the European continent via the West African coast and Moroccan territory itself. This declaration comes at a time of skill between the two countries to provide energy alternatives to the European Union after the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Algerian oil company Sonatrach has contemplated plans in the past to build a so-called trans-Saharan gas pipeline, passing through Niger and Algerian territory itself. Numerous security problems have been listed with this project, as the pipeline would have to cross areas with high terrorist activity. However, it would be more economical for both parties than the Moroccan proposal .

New delay in the Spain-Morocco summit

Nov. 18-MoroccanForeign Minister Naser Burita has announced that the long-awaited diplomatic summit between Spain and Morocco will take place "early next year." This statement comes after King Mohammed VI and Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez announced plans for the summit to be held in late December. This is not the first time that this bilateral meeting of senior leaders has been delayed. Originally proposal for December 2020, it was unilaterally suspended by Morocco following the hosting in Madrid of Polisario Front leader Brahim Ghali.

Deteriorating humanitarian crisis in the Sahara

November 23-Theincrease in the population suffering from severe sequelae of malnutrition has reached critical levels in Western Sahara. Ninety-one percent are now at a vulnerable status in an area where food deliveries are becoming not only scarcer but also of lower quality. Outside of the geopolitical approach of the vast majority of the international press following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, it is estimated that the humanitarian financial aid to the region has decreased by more than 20%.

Joint military maneuvers between Algeria and Russia cancelled

November 29-TheAlgerian Ministry of Defense announced the cancellation of the "Desert Shield" maneuvers, 50 kilometers from the border with Morocco, together with Russia. The maneuvers, which were to be held last week, were cancelled without notice, Algerian analysts believe the decision was caused by the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine. Several foreign media believe that the cancellation is related to the tense diplomatic relations between Algeria and world powers, such as the order of the US congress to apply CAATSA sanctions against Algiers for its military closeness to Russia.



Protests continue in Tunisia

Massive protests have taken place in recent months in various Tunisian cities calling for the Withdrawal of the president, Kais Saied, in view of the drastic economic decline, scarcity of resources and growing political instability. Videos have gone viral showing scuffles in supermarkets over the last few units of certain products. The response by Tunisian security forces claimed the life in early October of a 17-year-old boy in the capital who died in hospital from injuries sustained during a demonstration in August. Human rights observers denounce heavy police repression and arbitrary arrests of peaceful demonstrators.

Publication of the annual report of the University Secretary on Western Sahara

October 3-Theofficial website of MINURSO (the United Nations referendum in Western Sahara mission statement ) publishes the annual report of the UN University Secretary , Antonio Guterres, on Western Sahara. In it, Guterres underlines his concern about the restrictions of movement imposed by the POLISARIO Front on MINURSO agents, which, if continued, could make the presence of that UN mission statement in the eastern strip unsustainable. He also made accredited specialization of the refusal of the Polisario to engage in dialogue and to facilitate access and inspection of its installations and patrols. However, it qualifies positively the partnership of the Moroccan Armed Forces. It expressed concern about the escalation of hostility between the parties, and urged neighboring countries to hold negotiations and dialogue in order to resolve the conflict.

Tunisia signature a preliminary agreement with IMF for 1.9 billion dollars

October 15-On the15th of this month, the Tunisian delegation and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) sign the preliminary agreement granting the country a $1.9 billion credit . The final approval of the credit is scheduled for December this year. However, it is feared that the effect that inflation is having on Tunisians' Economics will be exacerbated by the measures to which the credit is conditioned. These measures include increased regulation, tax increases, privatization of state-owned enterprises and reduction of subsidies. The IMF claims that these measures will increase government revenue and encourage other institutions to lend to the country.

agreement Morocco-EU renewable energy cooperation agreement

October 18-Moroccoand the European Union have signed a agreement for renewable energy cooperation with the goal to diversify the country's energy production and create new sources for EU energy consumption. The agreement is signature in the context of strong international tensions regarding energy procurement: it highlights the Moroccan need to create new energy sources following the trade dispute with Algeria which stopped the flow of natural gas through the Maghreb-Europe gas pipeline (GME) to Spain from which Morocco also benefited. Morocco undertook in 2009 to diversify its energy production so as to obtain more than half of it from renewable sources. Fossil fuels currently account for 20% of Morocco's energy consumption.

Spanish investors to explore renewable energy opportunity in Morocco

October 18-TenSpanish companies part of ICEX will participate in meetings in Rabat and Casablanca to promote the restoration of Rabat-Madrid relations in the energy sector. Spanish investors are interested in Moroccan renewable energies, especially with the companies GAIA Energetics and MASEN, pioneers in the sector in the Arab country. Morocco has the possibility of generating, with its territory, 32% of clean energies, something they want to bring to over 50% by 2030 together with foreign investors. Today they are the African country with the most wind energy and continue with reforms and new laws that encourage the exploration of Moroccan capacity to generate and export renewable energy to Europe from Spain. This economic mission statement will take place from October 26th to 27th. 

France sends high-level delegation to Algeria to strengthen relations between countries

October 18-FrenchPrime Minister Elisabeth Borne arrived in Algeria on October 10 to discuss a possible economic cooperation treaty between France and Algeria, focusing on gas exports from the Arab country. Algerian gas represents 8% of France's gas imports, which France wants to increase following the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the closure of the GME pipeline due to the tense relationship between Morocco and Algeria. The agreement is expected to be approach at the ports of Skikda and Arzear, where gas is carried by ships to French ports, without having to rely on Italy or Spain for Algerian gas. Borne's visit followed the one previously made by President Macron; both countries will continue to discuss the European interest in securing supplies the first winter without Russian gas.

Algeria-Russia Joint Military Exercise in the Mediterranean Sea

October 18-Russian shipsdocked at the port of Algiers on October 18 to participate in military exercises lasting four days. The purpose is to exchange of experience in the field of naval forces, as well as to develop operational capabilities and foster cooperation between the two countries on subject maritime security. These operations are presented in the context of the "Desert Shield" 2022, a joint military exercise conference between Russia and Algeria, to be held next month. The Russian foreign ministry has clarified that the military operation is not directed against any specific third party, but is a preparation to combat illegal armed groups.

Morocco achieves diplomatic breakthrough in order to control Western Sahara

October 28-Theannual resolution of the committee Security Council to renew the authorization to deploy the blue helmets in Western Sahara, hitherto merely routine, has become a major strategic breakthrough for Morocco in its conquest of the territory. The resolution again urges the resumption of negotiations to reach a diplomatic agreement on the future of the territory. However, it highlights moments of discussion within the committee where the lack of transparency of the Polisario Front and the Algerian government with regard to cooperation with MINURSO has been condemned, and conspicuous by its absence any accredited specialization of a plan for a referendum of self-determination in the territory. The United States, in particular, expressed its approval of Morocco's proposed autonomy plan. The resolution was adopted unanimously, except for the abstentions of Russia and Kenya.