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.

NARCO CLOSEHOLD: Algerian Elections


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NARCO RoundUp (MAR2017)


This month, North Africa Risk Consulting introduces a new format* for the monthly NARCO RoundUp. The new NARCO RoundUp now features three analytic pieces on the top developments in North African Politics, Security and Oil. In addition, the new NARCO RoundUp also includes forecasts that give North Africa Risk Consulting’s clients a sense of what’s next. This month we look at the GNA's closing act, the state of competition between al-Qaeda and the Islamic State in North Africa, and the latest shakeup in the Algerian energy sector.

NARCO Congressional Testimony: Terrorism in North Africa, An Examination of the Threat


North Africa Risk Consulting's president, Geoff D. Porter, was invited to testify in front of the U.S. House of Represenatives Homeland Security Committee, Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence regarding "Terrorism in North Africa: An Examination of the Threat." Per the subcommittee's own introduction "the United States continues to face a dynamic threat from al-Qaeda and ISIS affiliates across the globe. This threat will only grow as ISIS loses territory in Iraq and Syria, and al-Qaeda fights to reclaim its status as the leader of the global Jihadi movement. In this context, North Africa has emerged as an important theatre in the war on terror."

NARCO CLOSEHOLD: Groundhog Day in Algeria


Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika has appeared in a video broadcast on state TV, which puts to rest recent speculation about the president's health. And Minister of Energy Noureddine Boutarfa dismissed Sonatrach CEO Amine Mazouzi, replacing him with Abdelmoumen Ould Kaddour. NARCO has your analysis about what these developments mean for politics and for the energy sector in Algeria.

NARCO Analysis: The War for Libya (and Its Oil)


At risk of sounding simplistic, the new conflict over Libya’s oil crescent ports is bad. And at risk of sounding alarmist, the conflict will accelerate Libya’s descent into instability. Libya’s oil sector was finally getting its groove back. Production rose 300% in 4Q16. And while production was recently down from 700kbpd to around 630kbpd, this was due to maintenance issues. The oil sector was settling into a (boring?) rhythm, a welcome development after three years of unpredictability. National Oil Corporation (NOC) Chairman Mustafa Sanallah was encouraging investors to come back to Libya to bolster the sector’s recovery. North Africa Risk Consulting was planning a trip to Tripoli later this spring. But just how fragile that normalcy was is now there for everyone to see. Libya’s oil sector is still deeply troubled and is still a long way from boring.

NARCO RoundUp (JAN2017)


The January NARCO RoundUp returns to the conventional format looking at Politics, Security and Oil in Libya, Algeria, and Morocco. If there is any one regional political trend it is stasis. Apart from Libya, there is not much happening on the political front in North Africa. So much so that it has been more than 17 weeks since Morocco’s legislative elections and still no government. Violent crime has displaced terrorism as the main security risk in Libya. Algeria remains unchanged. And Morocco keeps busting terror plots, with the latest allegedly involving an Islamic State bomb maker from Libya. Lastly, for the first time in years Libya’s near term oil outlook is good. Algeria’s not so much, but for reasons that are largely outside of its control. And questions continue to swirl around Samir, Morocco’s only (and shuttered) refinery



NARCO CLOSEHOLD is timely, actionable analysis derived from discreet sources. NARCO CLOSEHOLDs are crafted as events merit. They are available to NARCO's subscription and retainer clients and on a case-by-case basis.

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