This Adelphi book examines how the politics, security and economies – which were largely stable for decades prior to 2011 – have changed in the four states of the Magrheb.

North Africa in Transition: The Struggle for Democracies and Institutions The 2011 Arab uprisings began in North Africa and toppled the leaders of Tunisia and Libya, but the forces that wreaked this profound change also touched their fellow Maghreb states of Algeria and Morocco. This Adelphi book examines how the politics, security and economies – which were largely stable for decades prior to 2011 – have changed in the four states. It asks why the popular revolutions in Tunisia and Libya did not spread to Algeria and Morocco; how the revolutionary states have fared since 2011; why Libya descended into a deadly civil war while the others did not; and whether the sitting governments in Algeria and Morocco have applied sustainable strategies to address the new political climate.

The book includes chapters on each of the four core Maghreb states, together with regional assessments of the jihadist threat and economic challenges. It analyses the tension between security and political reform, and argues that without persistent and comprehensive development of government institutions focused on creating jobs and providing security, the region risks future protests, terrorism or even revolution – a lesson that states throughout the Middle East should take to heart.

'North Africa in Transition provides a timely and valuable examination of a region in turmoil. The book assembles an impressive and diverse range of authors, who assess the major factors that have influenced the politics, security and economies of North Africa since the 2011 revolutions. It makes the important case for why Western governments need to devote more attention and resources to North Africa, and argues effectively that persistent institutional reforms will be the surest means to preserve stability in the years to come.' Karim Mezran, Resident Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East

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  • Introduction: North Africa in Transition

    For well over a generation, continuity was the watchword for the four countries at the heart of North Africa – Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Libya. Politics did not vary much following the end of French colonial rule in Morocco and Tunisia in the 1950s or Algerian independence in 1962, despite the occasional handover of leadership. Muammar Gadhafi grabbed international headlines for sponsoring terrorism, but the brutal and bizarre Jamahiriya he...
  • Chapter 1: Tunisia: Foundations of Democratic Compromise

    Prior to the protests that began in the winter of 2010, the conventional wisdom on Tunisia held that many citizens would tolerate the country’s closed political system in exchange for economic benefits and stability. However, this bargain became increasingly unsustainable; a global economic crisis, along with corruption and favouritism under then-president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, contributed to a disturbingly high unemployment rate among Tunisia’s well-educated youth. Calls for dignity –...
  • Chapter 2: Libya: From Euphoria to Breakdown

    At the very centre of the Libyan capital of Tripoli, adjacent to both the ancient Ottoman-era medina and the elegant Italian built colonial district, lies Martyrs’ Square. It was on this wide, paved plaza, then called Green Square, that Colonel Muammar Gadhafi’s supporters gathered in defiant demonstrations, amid NATO air-strikes, during the 2011 bombing campaign. Six months later, tens of thousands of Libyans streamed in joyously to the same square...
  • Chapter 3: Power and Authority in Morocco

    In December 1990 tens of thousands of Moroccans filled the streets of Fes and smaller cities across the country. Organised protests quickly turned to riots. The rioters were mostly young, many of them unemployed university graduates, frustrated by socio-economic hardship, lack of opportunity and poor job prospects. King Hassan II responded forcefully at first. In the ensuing violence, security forces killed more than 30 people and arrested more than 200...
  • Chapter 4: Algeria: Enter the Oligarchy

    While political upheaval was developing in the rest of North Africa in 2011, Algerian politics did not grow especially strained until 2013 and 2014. In 2011, protests were limited; significant government spending, including more than US$20 billion in public-sector pay raises, and popular apathy ensured the regime did not face an existential threat. In addition, the state reacted forcefully when the prospect of protests arose. According to one organiser, in February...
  • Chapter 5: Jihadism in North Africa: A House of Many Mansions

    A common narrative links the recent developments of the jihadist scene in North Africa to the toppling of the Tunisian and Libyan dictatorships and their tightly controlled security apparatuses. This narrative drives the propaganda of the remaining strongmen in the region, who portray themselves as the best antidote to al-Qaeda in particular, and terrorism in general. Western intelligence, overwhelmingly critical of NATO’s anti-Gadhafi campaign, also tends to share this view...
  • Chapter 6: A New Economic Model for North Africa

    Four years after the Arab uprisings swept through the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) and toppled leaders who had ruled for decades in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia and Yemen, countries in the region continue to undergo a transition to address socioeconomic and political grievances. Several of the uprisings in North Africa produced political changes but have yet to foster the kind of economic conditions demonstrators demanded when they took to...
  • Conclusion: The Challenges on Implementing Institutional Reform

    As the previous pages detail, there was a wide variation in how states and societies in North Africa responded to the Arab uprisings of 2011. While this book is only a first attempt at analysing what happened in the region, several conclusions can be drawn already. Firstly, North Africa requires a sustained and wholesale emphasis on reforming institutions and improving the quality of governance – in security, economics, and public...

Ben Fishman is IISS Consulting Senior Fellow for the Middle East and North Africa. He worked for four years on the US National Security Council staff, including as Director for North Africa and Jordan from 2012 to 2013.

Borzou Daragahi , a three-time Pulitzer finalist, is a Middle East correspondent at BuzzFeed News, based in Istanbul. He has been covering the Middle East and North Africa since 2002, spending a significant amount of time in Libya for the Los Angeles Times and Financial Times.

Jean-Pierre Filiu is a professor of Middle East Studies at Sciences Po and served as a career diplomat from 1988–2006. He is the author of several books, most recently From Deep State to Islamic State: the Arab Counter-Revolution and its Jihadi Legacy (Oxford, 2015).

Haim Malka is a senior fellow and deputy director of the Middle East Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, where he oversees the program’s work on the Maghreb.

Svetlana Milbert is an economist focused on the Middle East and North Africa. From 2012–2014, she was assistant director for economic research at the Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East at the Atlantic Council.

Nicole Rowsell oversaw the establishment of the National Democratic Institute (NDI)’s office in Tunisia in 2011, where the Institute worked to help nascent political parties, candidates and citizen-monitoring organisations prepare for the country’s first democratic elections. She is currently NDI’s resident director in Lebanon.

Geoff D. Porter is an Assistant Professor at the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point, and the founder of North Africa Risk Consulting, Inc., a consulting firm specialising in political and security risk in North Africa.

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