NARCO CLOSEHOLD: Algeria's Five Energy Ministers in Six Years


Algerian Minister of Energy Saleh Khebri’s time was limited from the get-go and the clocked seem to speed up last month, with the buzzer finally sounding over the weekend. Khebri will be replaced by Noureddine Bouterfa, formerly the head of Sonelgaz, the state-owned utility. Algerian political figures’ fingerprints are all over Bouterfa’s promotion, but as with all things Algerian, there were no witnesses at the scene, and it’s not at all clear where Algeria’s all-important energy sector goes from here. Is the change just more post-Tewfik règlement de comptes or will Bouterfa bring new direction to a moribund sector in troubled times?

NARCO RoundUp (MAY2016)


In the May NARCO RoundUp, Politics addresses Libya’s two and a half governments (down from three), intensifying squabbling in Algiers, and Ennahda’s “de-Islamicization.” Security looks at Libya’s ongoing civil war, new rumors about Mokhtar Belmokhtar’s ghost, and the growing foreign military presence in Tunisia.  Lastly, Oil addresses Libya’s collapsing oil sector (a theme for 2016), the Algerian Energy Minister’s challenges, and efforts by the Tunisian Minister of Energy to move contracts forward.

NARCO CLOSEHOLD: What’s the Deal with Chakib Khelil?


Chakib Khelil, the storied former Algerian Minister of Energy and Mines, is back. But to what end? Is he back to make a run for the post-Bouteflika presidency? Is he gunning to regain the mantle of the Algerian energy sector? Is he looking to get rich(er) advising foreign firms interested in investing in Algeria? Or has he simply come back to restore his reputation and make amends in his beloved country? Or is it all a ruse, orchestrated by that famous Algerian nébuleuse, precisely to distract you from whatever else the nébuleuse has up its sleeve?

NARCO CLOSEHOLD: Diplomats, the Warfighter, and Libya


In the timeless bout between diplomats and the warfighter, it appears that the diplomats have won the most recent round and the rush to insert Western (including American) troops into Libya - the so-called Libya International Assistance Mission (LIAM) - has slowed. Accordingly, in the perennial counter-terrorism debate of containment versus degradation, containment has carried the day. Overall this is good news for Libya and for its neighbors, although most Libyans may have to wait some time before this approach’s benefits are apparent.

NARCO RoundUp (MAR2016)


In March’s NARCO RoundUp, the Politics section covers the ongoing troubles of Libya’s Government of National Accord, new trajectories and challenges in Algeria, and Tunisia’s fractured politics. Security looks at the limitations of the Islamic State in Libya, renewed concerns about domestic terrorism in Algeria, and the Battle for Ben Guerdane in Tunisia. Lastly, Oil addresses Libya’s collapsing oil sector, potential new dynamism in Algeria, and efforts in Tunisia to cultivate a more realistic popular perception of the sector’s potential to alleviate labor unrest.


NARCO Analysis: The Islamic State in Libya and Beyond


The Islamic State is in Libya and it is causing havoc there and in neighboring Tunisia. That much we know. Everything else is a matter of debate. How big is the Islamic State, what are its capabilities in Libya and in neighboring countries, what is its composition, and what are its objectives? These are big questions and the answers to them are essential to mitigating, and ultimately combating, the threat. Even so, the near-term risk is clear.

NARCO RoundUp (FEB 2016)


In this month’s NARCO RoundUp, the Politics section covers Libya’s anemic and deeply troubled political process, the policy-making confusion that is enveloping Algiers, and the reshaping of political party alliances in Morocco ahead of the 2016 legislative elections. Security throughout the region is dominated by the risks posed by the Islamic State, whether actual or potential. Finally, Oil made an uneven showing this month in the Maghreb: Libya’s oil sector problems are unabated; Algeria is staying the course – either by choice or because it is unable to devise an alternative approach; and Morocco is all about renewables, with oil and gas taking a backseat to solar – for now.

NARCO Analysis: Algeria Shifting Course


Imagine a big ship – an old 1970s tanker maybe – lumbering forward in worsening seas. The radar shows a storm on the horizon, but it’s unclear how long it will last. The officers on the bridge can risk plowing ahead. The sturdy ship can take a pounding, but if the storm lasts too long, it may start to founder. Or they can change course and if not completely dodge the storm, then at least skirt it. With a ship this big, though, course changes are incremental and it’s slow to react. The officers have to make a decision now, but the captain is holed up in his cabin and hardly on deck anymore.

NARCO Analysis: The US Military in Libya


There has been a steady stream of commentary regarding future US military engagement in Libya following remarks by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford on 22 January about the need for decisive action against the Islamic State in Libya, which were then echoed on 2 February by Secretary of State John Kerry at an “anti-Islamic State coalition” conference. A visit by senior US military leadership to Tunisia last week has only heightened speculation that US military action in Libya is imminent.

NARCO RoundUp (JAN 2016)


On the political front, January's RoundUp looks at the uncertain fate of Libya’s Government of National Accord, the collapse of Nidaa Tounes’ parliamentary bloc, and the prospect of constitutional reform in Algeria. North Africa also witnessed significant security developments with attacks on Libya’s oil sector,  arrests of terrorists in Algeria, and widespread rioting in Tunisia. Finally, Libya’s assessment of its oil sector is becoming more realistic, Algeria is starting to pivot, and Tunisia’s regulatory environment is still stalling.



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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