NARCO Analysis: Astroturf Oil & Gas Protests in Algeria and Tunisia

July 29, 2015

Two years ago this month, I wrote a brief essay about resource regionalism for the Centre de Recherches Internationales at SciencesPo. The gist was that two vectors were likely to converge and produce a new trend of increased competition for natural resources in North Africa. On the one hand, oil and gas companies and mining companies were exploring for and ultimately exploiting natural resources in or near new communities in North Africa and the Sahara. On the other hand, the events of the Arab Spring had simultaneously raised popular expectations that things would change for the better and had encouraged populist protest as a form of political expression. In short, extractive industries were expanding and they were likely to encounter populations that were more politically active than they were before.

And this is precisely what has happened. Sort of...

Yes, extractive industries activities in North Africa have begun to be targeted by protestors, but there are doubts as to whether protests targeting them are grassroots movements or in fact “Astroturf” campaigns fabricated by political elites.

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