#55 – Instability in North Africa and Middle East: a global threat?

event #55, Tuesday, October 25th, 2016


Yahia H. ZOUBIR, Professor of International Relations & International Management, Director of Research in Geopolitics, Kedge Business School

GONG Zheng 龚正, Assistant Researcher, China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations





Five years after the start of the so-called Arab Spring in North Africa, the region still faces some challenges. Tunisia, the most promising model, is undergoing an uncertain transition. Not only are the socio-economic and political conditions rather worrisome, but the country’s security situation is threatened by events in Libya, following the destruction of that country by NATO. Libya today is a failed state with 2 governments and where the Islamic State seized large swathes of the territory, in which in addition to local militias various foreign terrorists can train, even if IS is being defeated. Algeria has been at the forefront of the war on terrorism in the region, but its domestic situation faces various challenges. The drop in oil prices, unemployment among the youth, and the problems of succession have created conditions for a potential disturbance. Morocco, in spite of seeming stability, is also suffering from unpredictable socio-economic and political conditions. The problems of the region have been aggravated by the continued war in Mali in spite of France’s intervention in 2013. Furthermore, the absence of Maghreb integration has added to an already complex situation. In this context, Western meddling in Libya has also aggravated the conditions.

The emergence of these new trends in the geopolitics of the MENA region – particularly the slow demise of IS and the escalating power competition between the US and Russia – will have an historic impact on the future order of this region.

The world will see a new MENA in which the non-state actors will play a more prominent role.

Prof. Zoubir will provide an analytical review of the hard security in general while providing an analysis of the security challenges faced by each of the Maghreb countries, with particular focus on the threat represented by Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, the Islamic State, and other terrorist organizations and how the Maghreb states have responded to those threats. He will draw from his extensive research on the subject, as well as many interviews with officials, academics, and journalists from the region. His main argument is that globalization and foreign interventions have resulted in the emergence of transnational actors (such as narco-terrorism) who have challenged the existing order, marked by bad governance and socioeconomic disparities.

The current pattern to protect China’s regional interests is also facing new uncertainties.

Mr Gong will present his analysis of the terrorism threats posed by MENA with special focus on China’s security concerns – and its future role in the region.



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