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About North Africa Risk Consulting

North Africa Risk Consulting, Inc. is a political risk firm specializing exclusively in North Africa & the Sahara. NARCO has extensive experience helping firms navigate Maghreb markets. Ongoing events in North Africa and the Sahara have heightened the need to understand political circumstances, their trajectories and implications for the business environment. Learn more about North Africa Risk Consulting.

NARCO CLOSEHOLD: Algeria Shakes It Up

In a surprising move Algeria replaced four powerful ministers in a routine cabinet shuffle. The cabinet shuffle wasn’t supposed to have been a big deal. Algeria had legislative elections on 4 May and portfolios are always reassigned after a new government is formed. But not all portfolios get reapportioned and usually there is some policy continuity. But not this time. And this is why the move is such a surprise. Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal, Minister of Foreign Affairs Ramtane Lamamra, Minister of Industry and Mines Abdeslam Bouchouareb, and Minister of Energy Noureddine Boutarfa all got the axe.

NARCO Analysis: Tunisia's Troubled Oil Sector

In 2013 I published a piece with SciencesPo’s Centre de recherches internationales (CERI) on what I called resource regionalism. At the time, I argued that there was a trend afoot in North Africa “where workers are disrupting the operations of extractive industries and demanding a greater share of the wealth that these industries produce. The governments of North African, Saharan, and Sahelian countries are constrained in their ability to respond to this new phenomenon and as a consequence, it appears that local communities’ willingness to actively struggle for a greater share of extractive industries revenue will be enduring feature of the North African, Saharan, and Sahelian political and economic landscapes.” The events of Tataouine in southern Tunisia in the last several days have borne out this thesis.

NARCO CLOSEHOLD: Why the US has no Libya Policy

With its government disintegrating and its economy beyond repair, Libya is at a crossroads. Ahead lies a slow, painful, collapse or a rapid, painful, collapse. Neither is particularly appealing. But the US has no Libya policy – either to try to help Libya find a third way or to prepare the homeland for the ramifications of a Libyan collapse. One of the reasons the US has no Libya policy is because the US currently has no foreign policy in general. A second reason is that President Donald Trump’s campaign spent so much time vilifying his opponent and tying her to the disaster that Libya has become that just the mention of Libya in the White House is toxic. Lastly, the Trump administration doesn’t have the people to craft a Libya policy.

NARCO Analysis: Lock, Stock and Two Hundred Thousand Barrels

On global commodities markets, oil is fungible. One barrel is worth the same as another. But where oil comes from, in some places it’s worth more than others. In Libya, oil is worth a whole lot more than whatever a barrel is commanding on some faraway exchange (which as it happens to be these days is not all that much.) In Libya, oil is not just mucky old dinosaur bones. In Libya, a barrel of oil is a whole lot more than the crack spread: it’s not just feedstock for gasoline, diesel, lubes, and naphtha. In Libya, oil is power. Oil is leverage. In Libya, where everyone has weapons, oil is the biggest weapon of them all.