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