NARCO Analysis: Pirates of Barbary


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


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


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


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)


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


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.

NARCO Analysis: How Risky is Libya's IS


By now everyone knows about (but should not watch) the Islamic State (IS) video showing the murders of 21 Egyptian Copts. IS’s presence in Libya was already widely recognized by Libya analysts, but the Copts’ gruesome murder has made IS’s Libyan presence known to a much wider audience – which was precisely what the video was supposed to do. Nonetheless, there are significant differences between the Libyan operating environment and IS’s area of operations in Iraq and Syria. In fact, these differences may serve to amplify IS’s capabilities in Libya and make it appear to be a larger threat than it actually is. For the business environment, Libya has sadly ceased to matter, but IS’s emergence in Libya has important implications for Tunisia and Algeria.

North Africa Round Up (Jan. 2015)


Yet again North African countries are following different courses as 2015 gets underway. Even so, with the exception of Libya, whose oil and gas problems are much more profound, the question of shale gas exploitation is an emerging theme. Likewise, all North African countries are grappling with jihadi activity of one kind and another. Libya, Tunisia, and Algeria, however, are as politically divergent as could be. Morocco has been quiet politically and in the oil and gas sector as well. The NARCO North Africa Round Up for January looks at Algeira, Libya, and Tunisia. We'll get back to Morocco as events merit.


North Africa Risk Analysis

NARCO Subscription

Stay informed about political and security risks surrounding your business in Algeria, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, & Tunisia.

And make sure to sign up for NARCO's The Maghreb This Week (TMTW), the most widely-read English-language weekly summary of developments across North Africa.