Analysis

NARCO Analysis: What if Mokhtar Belmokhtar is Finally Dead

2015/06/15

I’m sure that by now you have all read reports of Mokhtar Belmokhtar having been targeted by US fighter jets in Libya and having been eliminated. And I am sure that you have all also read commentary that Belmokhtar’s death has been wrongly reported in the past and that we should not assume that this time is any different. But just in case this time is different, let me share some thoughts about where things are likely to go from here.

CTC Sentinel: Terrorist Outbidding: The In Amenas Attack

2015/05/29

On January 16, 2013, a group of men under the leadership of Mokhtar Belmokhtar attacked the Tigantourine Gas Facility at In Amenas, Algeria, and took more than 100 expatriate personnel hostage. More than two years later, the motives for the attack on this remote facility remain in question, despite post-mortems from one of the joint venture partners Statoil, the British government, and even one allegedly produced by the group to which Belmokhtar belonged.

NARCO Analysis: Implications of Sonatrach's new CEO

2015/05/27

As readers of the most recent NARCO Closehold anticipated, Algeria's Sonatrach has a new CEO. Following the appointment of Salah Khebri as Minister of Energy, Said Sahnoun, Sonatrach’s acting CEO, was replaced by Amine Mazouzi, formerly Sonatrach’s Director for Strategy, Planning, and Reporting for Upstream. Overall, Mazouzi’s appointment is a positive development, but it is not without its problems.

NARCO Closehold: The Algeria Two-Step

2015/05/19

Algeria has done it again. It has managed to do something that is simultaneously good and bad: last week’s cabinet shuffle contains some positive aspects some negative ones as well.

NARCO Analysis: Pirates of Barbary

2015/05/05

Back in 1805, US Marines led an attack on Darna, in what is now Libya. Darna is, of course, back in the news, having become the stronghold of the Islamic State in North Africa. Two centuries ago, the US attack was part of a broader offensive - the First Barbary War - to combat piracy in the Mediterranean Sea. With the collapse of the state in Libya in 2014 and 2015, piracy and the Barbary Coast could be coming back.

Foreign Affairs: The Algeria Alternative

2015/04/16

The upheavals of the Arab Spring seemed to pass one country by: Algeria. To its east, Libya collapsed into civil war, and Tunisia suffered an upsurge of terrorism that imperiled its democratic transition and economic recovery. To the south, Mali is holding together, if barely, thanks to a French-led stabilization force. But all the while, Algeria has remained a reliable bulwark—if also something of a riddle.

CTC Sentinel: What to Make of the Bay`a in North Africa

2015/03/20

Because of its formal structure and its contractual character, assessing who has pledged the bay`a to the Islamic State and whose bay`a the Islamic State has accepted appears at first blush to be a handy means to assess the Islamic State’s popularity, strength, and reach. However, the bay`a in North Africa has a different historical context and contemporary frame of reference than it does elsewhere in the Muslim world and particularly in the Levant and Iraq where the Islamic State has its origins. As a result, the topology of North African jihadi groups resists easy mapping and the convenience of the bay`a. The bay`a as a metric for gauging the expansion of the Islamic State and the threat of jihadi terrorism in North Africa is useful, but not exclusively so. The tragic attack at the Bardo Museum in Tunis is ample evidence of this.

NARCO Analysis: Terrorists Target Tourists in Tunis

2015/03/18

There has been an active-shooter/terrorist incident at the Musée du Bardo in central Tunis. Initial reports are that there are at least eight casualties, including seven foreigners (French, Italian, Spanish, and English) and one Tunisian. Early reports also indicate that there were at least two shooters, but there were probably more. The shooters took hostages, but Tunisian Anti-Terrorism Brigades have ended the incident.

NARCO RoundUp (Feb. 2015)

2015/03/11

In this month’s North Africa RoundUp we cover Politics, Security and Oil in Tunisia, Algeria & Morocco. There is so much happening in Libya at the moment – and almost all of it related to the security environment and none of it good – that it merits its own separate update which we’ll send out shortly. In the interim, please don't hesitate to get in touch about Libya or any of the below on the rest of the Maghreb.

CTC Sentinel: Terrorist Targeting of the Libyan O&G Sector

2015/02/27

While the hydrocarbons sector in Libya has been the focal point of social unrest and political violence ever since the fall of Muammar Qadhafi’s regime in 2011, it is only in the last two months that Libya’s oil sector has been targeted by jihadis for the purposes of terrorism. On the one hand, this development is due to the changing security landscape in Libya. On the other hand, it may be the influence of a report released in December 2014 by Mokhtar Belmokhtar’s group, the Mourabitoun, exhorting jihadis to attack oil installations and providing a “how-to” guide based on his group’s own experience attacking the Tigantourine gas facility at In Amenas, Algeria in 2013. What this development means, though, is that not only are competing political groups in Libya fighting for control of Libya’s hydrocarbons sector, but there now appear to be jihadis bent on destroying it.

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