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 Analysis: Islamic State in Libya Intensifies


There are three takeaways and one canard from the violence this week in Libya that targeted the country’s Sirte Basin oil infrastructure and a police training academy in Zliten. The most basic takeaway is that the Islamic State in Libya is getting stronger. This, in and of itself, is no great revelation, but it is nonetheless worth stating plainly. While its capability in the east has degraded, the Islamic State is bolstering its position in the center of the country and pushing out from its stronghold in Sirte.

NARCO Analysis: North Africa 2016 Trajectories and Implications


North Africa’s road ahead in 2016 will likely be even rougher than 2015, which was already rough enough for most. If the last year saw the collapse of Libyan political institutions, the emergence of terrorism in Tunisia, and feverish political jitters in Algeria, next year is likely to bring more of the same, but more intense and with more significant implications.

NARCO CLOSEHOLD: North Africa Oil & Gas Summit


The North Africa Oil and Gas Summit in Algiers last week was a challenging event. To a large degree it reflected a region that is less and less cohesive and very much in flux. The region’s different countries are on different political and security trajectories and their hydrocarbons sectors are at different stages, presenting different profiles and different risks. The region has never really rowed together, but this seems to be even more the case these days.

NARCO Analysis: Tunisia's Counter Terrorism Challenge


Daech, or the Islamic State, has claimed credit for the 24 November attack in Tunis that killed a dozen members of the Presidential Guard. This is the third high-profile Islamic State attack in Tunisia this year and proves that Tunisian security services still have a long way to go toward guaranteeing security in the country. There are some areas where Tunisia’s allies can help speed this process, but in others Tunisia is on its own.

NARCO Analysis: What Paris Means for the Maghreb


As the contours of the 13 November Paris attacks become clearer and events continue to unfold, it is important to also look at their broader regional implications, not least in Francophone North Africa – Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia. From a security perspective, the Paris attacks do not signal significant change in the near term. Over the longer term, however, the attacks will have negative economic implications for the Maghreb.

NARCO Analysis: Sonatrach's Mazouzi Makes His Mark


After months of suspense (minus the excitement that usually goes along with suspense), new leadership is being put in place at Sonatrach. Following the announcement of a restructuring/consolidation of Sonatrach’s divisions, Sonatrach has two new vice presidents for Upstream and Downstream and two new temporary managers for Transportation and Marketing. Petrochemicals has been folded back into Downstream from whence it came three years ago.



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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