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 Analysis: What Libya's Unity Government Could Do & What It Can't


Federica Mogherini, the EU representative for Foreign Affairs, said on Tuesday in regard to Syria, “that dealing with the humanitarian aspect of the crisis is curing only the symptoms.” She argued in favor of “doing something better on the political track and on the security track.” This is precisely what the UN is trying to do in Libya: largely leaving the symptoms alone and concentrating on the political causes. In fact, there are indications that Bernardino Leon, the UN Special Representative for Libya, hopes that warring Libyan factions will sign an agreement endorsing a new Libyan unity government at some point during the United Nations General Assembly taking place this week in New York.

NARCO Analysis: What Mohamed "Tewfik" Mediene's departure means for Algeria


For a long time, Mediene was considered the most powerful man in Algeria. Whether he was “rab al-djazair (Lord of Algeria)” or not is beside the point. The fact some people called him that attests to his reputation and potential power. He was believed to have files on everyone and everything. And that was his trump card. Someone took a bribe as some point? Mediene knew about it. He may not have chosen to present his evidence in a court of law…just yet…but he knew. Cheated on your wife with another woman? Mediene knew. With a man? Mediene definitely knew. Involved in the blackmarket? Laundering money overseas? You knew Mediene knew, but you didn’t know when it would matter. And that was where his power lay. No one knew when their ticket was going to get punched, but everyone has a ticket.

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


Resource regionalism first began to appear in North Africa in the wake of the Arab Spring.  Two vectors were converging and producing 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. 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.

NARCO Analysis: Tunisia Terrorist Attack's Economic Implications


Tunisia has been rocked by yet another terrorist attack, this time on a touristic beach in Sousse. There are at least seven dead. Leaving aside the question of who is responsible for the moment (Islamic State sympathizers are the most likely culprits, but al-Qaeda allies should not be discounted, especially in light of calls to avenge the death of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula leader Nasir al-Wuhayshi two weeks ago), the attack poses some potentially catastrophic implications for Tunisia.

NARCO Analysis: What if Mokhtar Belmokhtar is Finally Dead


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


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


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 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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