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One year after the “Arab spring”, the southern shores of the Mediterranean remain unstable and fragile. For European people, the current situation means that they will now have to change their approach to take due account of the four challenges that the countries of the Maghreb must face.
The first of these is the economic and social challenge. Unless we meet expectations expressed, political reforms will not be sufficient. The question of how to use and draw up a new development model must be at the heart of the leaders’ concerns. Though Morocco undoubtedly has the most offensive strategy, the Tunisian economy is now fragmented and Algeria has a rentier economy characterised by closure.
Only a response to this first challenge will overcome the challenge of democratisation. Though revolutions have brought a return to aspirations for change by the populations, the results of elections are cause for concern. However, the reality principle must be imposed on everyone. Everything is working to reinforce the democratic framework and the new teams should not be demonised – we should give them the powers they need, work with them and judge them by their actions.
Economic and social developments will also help confront the security challenge. Al Qaida, which has sought to use aggressive tactics, has not as yet reaped any major successes in the Maghreb. Another risk has to do with the increasing insecurity in the Sahel, under the dual effect of terrorist groups establishing bases there and the repercussions of the war in Libya.
There will not be any progress without a real desire to face up to the cooperation challenge. The “Arab spring” should be an opportunity to determine the need for regional integration. However, any improvement could be compromised if the conflict in the Western Sahara is not settled, despite the independence proposal tabled by Morocco in 2007, the most credible and most realistic solution. Europeans have, in all instances, nothing to lose by relying on initiatives moving towards maximum synergy.
The report was presented in Brussels at the Second Meeting on Sustainable Security in the Maghreb on Thursday 16 February 2012. For further information, visit http://www.institut-thomas-more.org and http://securitedurable.com.
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