We live in unusual times. Entire regions are destabilized by the weight of bad politics, dismal economics, and insecurity. Combined, their impact on societies is devastating in many ways. Where the so-called Arab Spring took place, entire populations are unsettled. They feel the pain of multi-faceted conflicts that promise insecurity and economic despair, and what’s left is a retreat to a more conservative life because there is the sense of familiarity and security.
Domestically, most of the countries we cover are divided, depressed and economically impoverished. In many countries, government leadership is often handled by men that are old, sick or both. Surrounding these men are a cabal of people who are running the show in complete secrecy and in manners that allow abuses to take place, as is the case in Algeria. When the leaders are in good health, they themselves abuse the system and often turn violent, as is the case in Egypt.
With the countries getting poorer, people are turning to religion, and often with negative outcomes. Women’s rights are in retreat, free press has vanished, and despite the promises of social media, the right to free speech lands the authors to jail.
Regionally, rather than seeking ways to integrate their economies in an effort to benefit from each other’s strengths, countries rather feud and fight. The most recent trend has been to erect barriers, fences, walls, and dig tranches along their borders in the name of security. What this is doing is to undo the little progress in economic integration that took place since the 1960s. It’s all gone now, thanks to ISIS.
The West is not playing a better role. The rise of ultra-nationalist movements amid a severe refugee and migration crisis in Europe, Brexit, and the arrival of Donald Trump in the White House are all signs of a retracting West.
In this latest issue we look at some of the challenges facing North Africa. Not only we look at the usual sources of trouble, such as terrorism, security, and immigration, but we also tackle some issues that are less debated but which impact stability, from women’s rights to leadership issues.