North Africa Observer – Feb. 15-22, 2016

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North Africa Observer - Feb. 15-22, 2016

Written by Marko Milicevic exclusively for SouthFront; Edited by Viktor Stoilov

Algeria has reinforced its military presence on the borderline with Libya. It is believed that some 50,000 troops have been deployed along the 1,000 km borderline.1 Algeria supports the UN-led political process in this war-thorn country, and is closely working with the Libyan authorities to maintain security on both sides of the border.

The United Nations Secretary General’s special envoy to Western Sahara Christopher Ross held discussions with the Minister of State and Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Ramtane Lamamra (February 20th)2 and the Minister for Maghreb Affair, the African Union and the Arab League Abdelkader Messahel (February 21st ).3 They have negotiated the terms of the UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon’s visit to Algeria, which should take place in March. The subject of the talks with the UN Secretary General will likely be the status of Western Sahara, the Libyan crisis, and the regional security.

Egypt – the Former UN Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali died on Tuesday in Giza, at the age of 93.4 He served as the sixth Secretary General of the United Nations from January 1992 to December 1996 at a time when the UN dealt with several world crises, including the break-up of Yugoslavia and the Rwandan Genocide. Boutros-Ghali was a Christian Copt who graduated from the University of Cairo, and received a PhD in international law from the University of Paris. He was most famous for his report written for the UN “An Agenda for Peace: Preventive diplomacy, peacemaking and peace-keeping”, a noble theoretical attempt to separate force and diplomacy, which should be based on preventive diplomatic actions and peacekeeping missions with a UN mandate.

President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi met with his Gabonese counterpart, Ali Bongo, on Thursday in Cairo to discuss further cooperation between the two African countries. They have signed 5 Memorandums of Understanding in the fields of politics, education, culture, healthcare, and pharmaceuticals.5

Libya – On Monday, the Libyan Presidential Council approved an 18-member cabinet that includes three women for a unity government in a bid to end the chaos that has been gripping the country since 2011.6 The two unified governments should now concentrate on defeating ISIS in Libya.

Two Serbian embassy staff workers, embassy communications chief Sladjana Stankovic and her driver Jovica Stepic, were killed on Friday during a NATO attack on an ISIS camp in Sabratha.7 They were abducted in the northwestern coastal city of Sabratha on November 8, 2015, after a car hijack. The Pentagon said that the strike was targeting Noureddine Chouchane from Tunisia, a senior operative in ISIS responsible for the terrorist attack at the Bardo Museum in Tunis in March, 2015.

On February 22nd, the leader of Ansar al-Sharia, the ISIL branch in Libya, has been killed in Northwestern Libya, in the city of Sabratha. The attack on his house was conducted from air.8 Anti-terrorist operations of this kind, going on in Libya are, legally speaking, on a shaky ground because they lack both a UN mandate, as well as the authorization of the internationally recognized Libyan government. Civilian casualties are not uncommon in the NATO operations, which bring up the question how can one justify the death of an innocent civilian victims killed for military purposes. Responsibility must be determined.

Morocco pledged its support for the new Libyan national unity government on Tuesday – “All Libyan parties should consider the gravity of the delicate phase which Libya is going through in the light of the huge challenges this brotherly Maghreb country is facing”.9 Morocco has always supported the political solution to the Libyan civil war, as were other Libyan neighbors.

The League of Arab States (LAS) announced on February 20th, that Morocco won’t host the 2016 Arab League Summit.10 Salaheddine Mezouar, the Moroccan Minister of Foreign Affairs, expressed Morocco’s apology for not being able to host the Arab League Summit. The lack of unity among the Arab leaders in this hard time full of challenges for the Arabs was named as the main reason for this decision. The Summit will most probably be held in Mauritania.

South Sudan – The announcement of a Unity Government by South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir was scheduled for Friday. After a meeting with his cabinet, Kiir decided to delay the formation of the transitional unity government “until the forces of the armed opposition faction of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM-IO) are deployed in Juba to allow the return of their leader – Riek Machar.”11

More than 1.8 million children and adolescents are out of school in South Sudan, UNICEF said on Tuesday.12 The South Sudan Education Ministry is launching The “Back-to-Learning 2” campaign in the country in accordance with UNICEF. Even more disturbing fact is the use of children in the ongoing civil war by both sides, which has been recorded in various UN repots.

Sudan temporarily banned UN agencies and international organizations from moving in the Central Darfur State on Sunday, due to security reasons.13 Violent clashes erupted between the Sudanese army and the rebels of the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) around the Jebel Marra area in the middle of last January. Even one year later, there is no sign of a peace agreement, which would put a stop to the Darfur crisis. The Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir welcomed Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir in Khartoum where they discussed further cooperation in the regional issues – the Palestinian, Syrian, Yemeni, Somalian and Libyan crises.14 Sudan is a part of the Islamic anti-terrorist coalition led by Saudi Arabia, and also supports this country in the Iranian-Saudi conflict.

The Tunisian economic growth rate reached 0.8% in 2015 (the forecast was 0.5%), in comparison with 2.4% in 2014.15 Obviously, the political instability in Tunisia and the crisis in the region affected its economy, especially in the field of tourism – the most important economic sector of Tunisian economy. The Tunisian Ministry of Interior claims that there are 2,671,188 Libyan refugees in this neighboring country.16 Tunisia is a country with a lot of internal problems – slow economic growth, unemployment, fragility of the political institutions etc. Adding to the pile, the refugee crisis could result in a collapse of the political and economic system in this fragile state.

Sources:

  1. “Algeria stiffens control on Libyan border to ensure security”, Algeria Press Service, accessed February 23, 2016, http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2016-02/17/c_135107341.htm
  1. “Lamamra receives Christopher Ross”, Algeria Press Service, accessed February 23, 2016, http://www.aps.dz/en/world/10903-christopher-ross-holds-discussions-with-sahrawi-official-on-un-secretary-general%E2%80%99s-visit-to-region
  1. “Messahel receives Ross”, Algeria Press Service, accessed February 23, 2016, http://www.aps.dz/en/algeria/10921-messahel-receives-ross
  1. “Boutros Boutros-Ghali dies at age 93”, Daily News Egypt, accessed February 23, 2016, http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2016/02/16/boutros-boutros-ghali-dies-at-age-93/
  1. “Egypt, Gabon sign 5 MOUs in multiple fields”, Daily News Egypt, accessed February 23, 2016, http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2016/02/18/egypt-gabon-sign-5-mous-in-multiple-fields/
  1. “Morocco pledges support for Libya’s new national unity gov’t”, Xinhua Net, accessed February 23. 2016, http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2016-02/16/c_135103735.htm
  1. “2 Serbian embassy staff kidnapped by ISIS killed in US bombing in Libya”, Russian Today, accessed February 23, 2016, https://www.rt.com/news/333082-us-raid-libya-serbians-killed/
  1. “Ansar al-Sharia Leader Killed in Northwestern Libya”, FARS News Agency, accessed February 23, 2016, http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13941203000751
  1. “Morocco pledges support for Libya’s new national unity gov’t”, Xinhua Net, accessed February 23, 2016, http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2016-02/16/c_135103735.htm
  1. “Morocco Will not Host 2016 Arab League Summit- FM Salaheddine Mezouar”, Asharq Al-Awsat, accessed February 23, 2016, http://english.aawsat.com/2016/02/article55347747/morocco-will-not-be-hosting-the-april-arab-league-summit-fm-salaheddine-mezouar
  1. “South Sudan delays formation of transitional government”, Sudan Tribune, accessed February 23, 2016, http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article58060
  1. “1.8 million South Sudanese children out of school -UNICEF”, The East African, accessed February 23, 2016, http://www.theeastafrican.co.ke/news/1-8-million-South-Sudanese-children-out-of-school-Unicef/-/2558/3079940/-/qyut0l/-/index.html
  1. “”Sudan bans UN, int’l agencies in Darfur over security reasons, Xinhua Net, accessed February 23, 2016, http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2016-02/22/c_135118029.htm
  1. “Sudan, Saudi Arabia vow to cooperate on regional issues”, Xinhua Net, accessed February 23, 2016, http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2016-02/23/c_135121068.htm
  1. “Tunisian economy growth rate up to 0.8% in 2015, against scheduled 0.5% (INS)”, Tunisian Press Service, accessed February 23, 2016, http://www.tap.info.tn/en/index.php/economy/33475-economy-growth-rate-reached-0-8-in-2015
  1. “2.6 million Libyans are in Tunisia”, Middle East Monitor, accessed February 23, 2016, https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/africa/23988-26-million-libyans-are-in-tunisia

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