Political Dynamics in the Maghreb

Part of the: 
The Maghreb
Tunisian Parliament

Political trends in Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and Libya.

Major political changes have swept the Maghreb in the past several years. Tunisia and Libya experienced revolutions. Tunisia has established a new constitution and democratic government, while serious civil conflict continues in Libya. Morocco has undertaken gradual constitutional and political reforms, and Algeria is slowly grappling with changing regional and domestic environments. New opportunities have emerged for the people of the region to build more representative and accountable political institutions. At the same time, major challenges remain, and the future of the region is uncertain. Political actors disagree over the legitimacy of institutions, high unemployment and economic grievances persist, and old and new security threats distract from the routine challenges of governance.


Recent Publications


Maghreb Rising: Competition and Realignment

In Chapter 7 of Rocky Harbors: Taking Stock of the Middle East in 2015, Haim Malka analyzes the future of politics and security in the Maghreb.

Middle East Notes and Comment: To Fight Jihadi Violence, End the Wars

Al Qaeda and the Islamic State thrive in the midst of proxy wars—ones that are often conducted between U.S. allies.

Religious Radicalism after the Arab Uprisings

In the Middle East, conflicts that many thought were coming to an end will continue, as will the dynamism and innovation that have emerged among radical and opposition groups.

The Challenge of Non-State Actors

The United States must increasingly address a mutating set of foes. Victory is unlikely to be found through defeating and eliminating these groups. Instead, the United States must work to change the political and social conditions that allow them to thrive.

The Struggle for Religious Identity in Tunisia and the Maghreb

Defining religious identity in the Maghreb has become an urgent challenge for governments fighting violent extremism. Nowhere is the battle as intense as in Tunisia, which is struggling to reshape its religious identity after more than a half century of state-imposed secularism.

Middle East Notes and Comment: Traditional Remedies

The Arab revolts and revolutions of 2011 provided public space for violent extremist ideology to spread and reignited a debate over how to fight it. Among regional allies, the U.S. preference for democracy seems to be on the retreat while the impulse to regulate religion appears to be on the upswing.

Jihadi-Salafism's Next Generation

Popular uprisings across North Africa have unleashed a new wave of jihadi-salafism that is increasingly mainstream and appeals to a younger generation of activists. This popular jihadi-salafism is less dramatic than al Qaeda’s version, but it will have a far greater impact on the region’s future.

GCC-Maghreb Relations in a Changing Regional Order

Arab Gulf leaders are making clear the strategic importance they attach to North Africa through offers of aid and investment. But while Gulf leaders want to shape developments in the Maghreb, it is unclear what real political impact their actions have beyond affecting public perceptions.

Muftah: Establishing Legitimacy: Challenges of Governance in Tunisia

The danger is not that Tunisia will fall apart completely, but that it will settle into a rut of electing governments incapable of governing.

Conference Report: The Maghreb in Transition

The Maghreb is in motion. Political changes underway across North Africa have created opportunities for more representative and transparent governance. Debates over the nature of authority and the role of the state that would have been unthinkable just a few years ago now shape political discourse. And yet, doubts remain.

Conference Report: Building Stability through Economic Growth in the Maghreb

Governments across the Maghreb are struggling to address a wide range of socioeconomic and political grievances that sparked popular uprisings throughout 2011.

Bracing for Aftershocks: North African Politics and Security

North Africa is bracing itself. Not since Algeria’s brutal civil war a generation ago has the region witnessed so much turmoil and uncertainty.

Seeing Through the Fog: Transitional Governments in Libya and Elsewhere

On October 6, 2011, Jon B. Alterman delivered this talk at the Marine Corps University in Quantico, VA, drawing on experience with transitions around the world to caution patience, identify the perils of U.S. bureaucratic politics, and highlight the importance of neighboring states.

Conference Report: Planning for a Post-Gadhafi Libya

On July 25, 2011, CSIS convened approximately 50 experts from the government, diplomatic and expert communities to analyze the way forward in Libya. The report outlines the different conclusions that were reached.

Middle East Notes and Comment: The Revolution Will Not Be Televised

It is tempting to see the political protests sweeping the Middle East as "Facebook Revolutions," but the Internet is only part of the story.

What's Next for Tunisia?

Tunisia’s interim rulers are faced with the immediate tasks not only of restoring order after a month of street protests, but also of shaping a new governing system.

Building Stability in North Africa: Prospects and Challenges

North Africa is emerging as a pivotal region in global affairs. Opportunities for constructive engagement abound, yet legitimate concerns about long term stability remain unanswered.

Building Stability in North Africa: Prospects and Challenges (2008)

North Africa is emerging as a pivotal region in global affairs. Opportunities for constructive engagement abound, yet legitimate concerns about long term stability remain unanswered.

- See more at: http://dev.csis.org/program/security-challenges-maghreb#sthash.GGYJxD37.dpuf

Arab Reform and Foreign Aid: Lessons from Morocco

In the years since Mohammed VI ascended the throne, Morocco has taken many steps toward social, economic, and political transformation. The heightened importance Western powers ascribe to Middle Eastern reform and Morocco's prominence as both an example and test case of that reform raise a host of issues for Americans, Europeans, and Moroccans.

Middle East Notes and Comment: Libya's Generation Gap

After a quarter century as a bête noire of international politics, fount of unpredictable proclamations, and supporter of innumerable liberation movements, Libyan policy has taken a decided turn toward engagement with the rest of the world.

Middle East Quarterly: The Unique Libyan Case

An understanding of the factors leading to Libya’s change of policy suggests the Libyan experience is not as applicable to other cases as some would argue.

All issues of Middle East Notes and Comment related to North Africa


Recent Events


Maghreb Roundtable: What's Next for Algeria?

John P. Entelis and Robert P. Parks shared their different but complementary analyses of Algerian society and politics following the re-election of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika.

Maghreb Roundtable: Human Rights Perspectives in Morocco

Driss El Yazami, president of Morocco’s National Human Rights Council (CNDH), argued that Morocco is trying to build democracy step-by-step, though it faces many challenges ahead.

Tunisia's Path Forward

Tunisian Prime Minister H.E. Mehdi Jomaa spoke about his government’s emphasis on ensuring a smooth path to new parliamentary and presidential elections while strengthening Tunisia’s future economic growth and stability at a CSIS Statesmen's Forum on April 2, 2014.

Maghreb Roundtable: The Geopolitics of North African Energy Trends

Declining production, rising domestic consumption, and insecurity are huge challenges for energy producers in North Africa, according to Leonardo Bellodi and Arezki Daoud.

Maghreb Roundtable: Egypt's Impact on Maghreb Political Dynamics

William Lawrence, visiting professor of political science and international affairs at the George Washington University, and Ellen Lust, associate professor of political science at Yale University, shared their assessments of the broader regional effects of developments in Egypt.

The Maghreb in Transition with Secretary of State Clinton
In October 2012, CSIS convened a full-day conference to examine the political, economic, and security dimensions of transition in the Maghreb. Read the full conference report.

Watch or listen to the full conference and keep up with our work on the region through the Maghreb in Transition course on iTunes U.

Algeria Amidst North Africa's Transformation
H.E. Mourad Medelci, the Algerian minister of foreign affairs, spoke at CSIS on January 13, 2012.

Other Recent Events:

On November 2, 2012, CSIS hosted Tunisian Secretary of State for American and Asian Affairs Hedi Ben Abbes for a discussion of current dynamics in Tunisian politics. Dr. Ben Abbes discussed Tunisia’s transition and the ongoing debates related to the Constituent Assembly’s drafting of a new constitution.

On October 19, 2012, CSIS hosted Algerian Minister of State for Maghreb and African Affairs Abdelkader Messahel for a roundtable discussion of the conflict in Mali and regional insecurity.  

On April 4, 2012, CSIS hosted Moroccan Minister of Communications Mustapha Khalfi for a roundtable discussion on the challenges of democratic reform in Morocco. Mr. Khalfi discussed the new government’s approach to governing and implementing reform.

On March 16, 2012, CSIS hosted Moroccan Minister of Foreign Affairs Saadeddine El-Othmani, who addressed Morocco’s approach to foreign policy amid the changes underway in North Africa.

Learn more about political and social trends across the Middle East.


Featured Projects

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    Addressing key emerging issues and creating a community of interest in Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and Libya.