Nations, simply put are the creation of our collective imagination, as expressed by Yuval Noah Harari in his best seller “Sapiens”. I have of late been envisaging something greater than the current status quo that the people of Maghreb have settled with.
As an alternative to the current five struggling countries, we have today, we amalgamate them to form one unified country with advanced potential. The new-fangled country, The Great Maghreb, would include Algeria, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Tunisia and the Western Sahara- which at present is a disputed territory between Morocco and the Polisario Front, supported by Algeria.
The Great Maghreb would extend over a vast territory of 6M KM – 30% more territory than the 28 combined EU states, thus becoming the 6th largest country in the world. The combined population of the Maghreb Countries is around 98 million inhabitants which is approximately 1% of the world population.
The Maghreb countries are generally dominated by the spread of corruption and inefficient institutions, the lack of competitive development and open economies which is majorly hindering the countries. Missed opportunities and impeded sustainable growth prolongs the fragility within the countries and social unrest and revived protests against existing Governments for change will persist.
Whilst Covid – 19 has curbed call for change and protests, the collective challenges, such as the scale of youth unemployment, a shared craving for economic development still prevalent. The people are anxiously ready to maximise their potential, but governments do not have answers. The Moroccan King appointed a committee to come up with a new development model after the failure of all past policies; Algeria had a president that was in coma for most of his mandate until protests stopped him running for a fifth mandate. Tunisia is still struggling to maintain its democratic transition under harsh economic conditions.
The Great Maghreb would possess one of the biggest reserves of gas and petrol and spearhead some of the largest projects of renewable energy via wide solar and wind. Libya, Mauritania and Western Sahara would present fresh sites for diverse reconstruction and investments projects – boosting the economy exponentially for the new country as well as generating jobs for the youth.
Algeria and Morocco’s established military and security apparatus were built for hostilities against each other, as well as combating terrorism and opponents. Magnifying their military and security capabilities, will provide loftier stability in this territory, especially Libya. Economic development and security would also permeate to neighbours in Sub Saharan African, Egypt and Europe.
The Maghreb countries share a customary historical and cultural heritage. The region has been the core of a melting pot of original Berber culture with Arab African and European cultures. The derivation of people in the Maghreb countries is a blend of Berber ancestral origin, Arabs, Sahraouian origin and the indigenous Spaniards (Moors).
Whilst the suggestion of unifying has not widely explored in the Maghreb, integration has remained a popular notion within the region. In 1989, the Arab Maghreb Union (AMU) was founded by the five countries of the region to expand cooperation and integration of countries in the region. The AMU has been dormant since 1994 mainly due to the hostile relationship between Morocco and Algeria because of the Western Sahara dispute. An economic integration would add 5% to the GDP of each of the 5 Maghreb counties. Currently, intraregional trade in the AMU does not exceed 3% of the region’s total trade, which is the lowest rate worldwide. Intraregional trade accounts for 60 % of the trade within the European Union, 22 % within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations
Presently, the practical integration via the AMU is unfeasible with the unceasing conflict of the Western Sahara. This dispute could undoubtedly escalate into a war as proved by recent frictions between Morocco, Algeria and the Polisario Front. Resolving this conflict is mandatory for any possible cooperation between Morocco and Algeria to take place.
The new country absorbing the nations offers a resolution and also concept of a new country- providing a platform for additional resolutions. The Great Maghreb could commence as a confederation and grow to be a federation within 5-10 years. Steered by a Chancellor regulating a central government, to attenuate the impact of bad governance from devolved nations. Gradually, further power could be transferred from the devolved nations to the central government until an achievement of efficient balance of power is attained.
Integration is a vastly popular notion amongst people in the region and a referendum within every nation could support the belief of an ultimate political union. Fortunately, the relationship of the people between the different countries is by and large warm – noticeably during highly charged football games, where chants of brotherhood swell amongst the Moroccan and Algerian fans.
The Maghreb diaspora throughout Europe have cultivated a warm bond between the communities and would be welcomed far and wide. Mobilising cross country support for the new country would be presented as the alternative to the current regional order. 60 plus years after independence, the five countries have reached a crippling deadlock. The Great Maghreb could unleash aspirations of the people within the region, which would have unquestionable advantages on its neighbours, from all sides.
Iraq: Three Years of Drastic Changes (2019-2022)
When the wave of the protests broke out at the beginning of October 2019 in Iraq, the Iraqi politicians did not realize the size of the gap between the demands of the protesters which were accumulated more than seventeen years, and the isolation of the politicians from the needs of the people. The waves of the protests began in a small range of different areas in Iraq. Rapidly, it expanded as if it were a rolling snowball in many regions of Iraqi governorates. Moreover, the platforms of social media and the influencers had a great impact on unifying the people against the government and enhancing the protest movement.
Al Tarir Square was the region where most protesters and demonstrators were based there. At that time, they stayed all day in this region and set up their tents to protest and demonstrate against the public situation of their life.
The protesters demanded their looted rights and asked for making economic reforms, finding job opportunities, changing the authority, and toppling the government presided by Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi. The protest stayed between ebb and tide, pressuring the political authority in Iraq.
A new period began in the history of Iraq where clashes between the protesters and the riot forces broke out in Al Tahrir Square and many governorates in the south of Iraq. Tear gas and ductile bullets were used against the protesters to compel them to retreat and disperse them. But the protesters insisted on continuing their demands. Many protesters were killed and wounded due to the intensive violence against them. The strong pressure with falling many martyrs gave its fruit when the Iraqi representatives of the Parliament endeavored to achieve the protesters’ demands by changing the election law into a new one. On 24 December 2019, the Iraqi Parliament approved of changing the unfair Saint Leigo election law into the open districts. The new law divided Iraq into 83 electoral districts.
Moreover, this violent protest led to the collapse of the Iraqi government presided by Prime Minister Adil Abdul Mahdi. He was compelled to resign by the end of 2019. Many political names were nominated by the Iraqi politicians but the protesters refused them all because they were connected with different political parties.
Finally, Mustafa Al-Kadhimi, who worked in the Iraqi Intelligence Service and had no party, was nominated by the politicians to be the new Prime Minister. He was well-known for ambiguity and far from the lights of media.
Mustafa Al-Kadhimi has become the Prime Minister in March 2020. The protests were over at the beginning of April 2020. With the taking of responsibility of helping Iraq, Mustafa Al-Kadhimi promised the protesters, who were called “Octoberians”, to hold a premature election, and the election was fixed on 10 June 2020.
Many politicians tried to postpone or cancel the premature election. Under their pressure, the premature election was postponed and fixed on 10 October 2020. During Mustafa Al-Kadhimi’s period as a Prime Minister, he opened new channels with the Arab states to enhance the cooperation and held many summits to support Iraq in the next stage.
Attempts to postpone the premature election by the Iraqi politicians were on equal foot, but all these attempts failed and the election occurred on the due time.
Before the election, many Octoberians and influencers encouraged the people not to participate in the election. On the day of the election, it witnessed low participation, and people were convinced of not happening any change. These calls gave their fruits in the process of elections in Iraq where the election witnessed very low participation, and most Iraqis refused to participate and vote to the nominees even though there was a new election law. When the elections were over, the Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) in Iraq announced that the results would be within two days. After announcing the results of the election partially and defeating many political factions in the Iraqi arena, many convictions were directed to the commission, and it was convicted by fraud and manipulation with the results. This aspect affected the activity of the Commission and led to put great pressure on it. After two weeks of pressure and convictions, the final results of the elections were announced and many political elite Iraqi leaders were defeated gravely.
The results of the election gave a new start through new leaders who were supporting the October revolution that happened in 2019. And most names of these winning movements and alliances were inspired by the October Movement. Those, who represented October Revolution, were also convicted by other Octoberians that Octoberian winners in the election deviated from the aims of the October Revolution.
A new struggle has begun between the losers in the election and the new winners who will have the right to be in the next term of the Iraqi Council Parliament of Representatives. Moreover, many independent individuals won in the election, and the conflict would deepen the scope of dissidence between the losers and winners. Finally, all raised claims of election fraud have not changed the political situation.
The final results of the election had been announced, and the date of holding the first session of the Iraqi Parliament of Representatives was fixed to nominate and elect the spokesman of the Iraqi Parliament of Representatives. The Shiite Sadrist movement, which represents 73 seats, has wiped out its competitors. This aspect has compelled the losing Shiite competitors to establish an alliance called “Coordination Framework” to face the Sadrist movement, represented by the cleric Sayyed Muqtada al-Sader. On the other hand, Al-Takadum Movement (Progress Party), represented by the spokesman of the Iraqi Parliament of Representatives, Mohamed Al-Halbousi, has taken the second rank with 37 seats.
The final results of the election had been announced, and the date of holding the first session of the Iraqi Parliament of Representatives was fixed to nominate and elect the spokesman of the Iraqi Parliament of Representatives.
Finally, the first session of the Iraqi Council Parliament of Council was held. Mohamed Al-Halbousi has been elected as the spokesman of the Iraqi Council Parliament of Council. During the next fifteen days, the president of the republic will be elected.
China-US and the Iran nuclear deal
Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian met with Chinese Foreign Minister, Wang Yi on Friday, January 14, 2022 in the city of Wuxi, in China’s Jiangsu province. Both of them discussed a gamut of issues pertaining to the Iran-China relationship, as well as the security situation in the Middle East.
A summary of the meeting published by the Chinese Foreign Ministry underscored the point, that Foreign Ministers of Iran and China agreed on the need for strengthening bilateral cooperation in a number of areas under the umbrella of the 25 year Agreement known as ‘Comprehensive Cooperation between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the People’s Republic of China’. This agreement had been signed between both countries in March 2021 during the Presidency of Hassan Rouhani, but the Iranian Foreign Minister announced the launch of the agreement on January 14, 2022.
During the meeting between Wang Yi and Hossein Amir Abdollahian there was a realization of the fact, that cooperation between both countries needed to be enhanced not only in areas like energy and infrastructure (the focus of the 25 year comprehensive cooperation was on infrastructure and energy), but also in other spheres like education, people to people contacts, medicine and agriculture. Iran also praised the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and said that it firmly supported the One China policy.
The timing of this visit is interesting, Iran is in talks with other signatories (including China) to the JCPOA/Iran nuclear deal 2015 for the revival of the 2015 agreement. While Iran has asked for removal of economic sanctions which were imposed by the US after it withdrew from the JCPOA in 2018, the US has said that time is running out, and it is important for Iran to return to full compliance to the 2015 agreement. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in an interview said:
‘Iran is getting closer and closer to the point where they could produce on very, very short order enough fissile material for a nuclear weapon’
The US Secretary of State also indicated, that if the negotiations were not successful, then US would explore other options along with other allies.
During the course of the meeting on January 14, 2022 Wang Yi is supposed to have told his Chinese counterpart, that while China supported negotiations for the revival of the Iran nuclear deal 2015, the onus for revival was on the US since it had withdrawn in 2018.
The visit of the Iranian Foreign Minister to China was also significant, because Foreign Ministers of four Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries – Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman and Bahrain — and Secretary General of GCC, Nayef Falah Mubarak Al-Hajraf were in China from January 10-14, 2022 with the aim of expanding bilateral ties – especially with regard to energy cooperation and trade. According to many analysts, the visit of GCC officials to China was driven not just by economic factors, but also the growing proximity between Iran and Beijing.
In conclusion, China is important for Iran from an economic perspective. Iran has repeatedly stated, that if US does not remove the economic sanctions it had imposed in 2018, it will focus on strengthening economic links with China (significantly, China has been purchasing oil from Iran over the past three years in spite of the sanctions imposed by the US. The Ebrahim Raisi administration has repeatedly referred to an ‘Asia centric’ policy which prioritises ties with China.
Beijing is seeking to enhance its clout in the Middle East as US ties with certain members of the GCC, especially UAE and Saudi Arabia have witnessed a clear downward spiral in recent months (US has been uncomfortable with the use of China’s 5G technology by UAE and the growing security linkages between Beijing and Saudi Arabia). One of the major economic reasons for the GCC gravitating towards China is Washington’s thrust on reducing its dependence upon GCC for fulfilling its oil needs. Beijing can utilize its good ties with Iran and GCC and play a role in improving links between both.
The geopolitical landscape of the Middle East is likely to become more complex, and while there is not an iota of doubt, that the US influence in the Middle East is likely to remain intact, China is fast catching up.
Egypt vis-à-vis the UAE: Who is Driving Whom?
“Being a big fish in a small pond is better than being a little fish in a large pond” is a maxim that aptly summarizes Egyptian regional foreign policy over the past few decades. However, the blow dealt to the Egyptian State in the course of the 2011 uprising continues to distort its domestic and regional politics and it has also prompted the United Arab Emirates to become heavily engaged in Middle East politics, resulting in the waning of Egypt’s dominant role in the region!
The United Arab Emirates is truly an aspirational, entrepreneurial nation! In fact, the word “entrepreneurship” could have been invented to define the flourishing city of Dubai. The UAE has often declared that as a small nation, it needs to establish alliances to pursue its regional political agenda while Egypt is universally recognized for its regional leadership, has one of the best regional military forces, and has always charmed the Arab world with its soft power. Nonetheless, collaboration between the two nations would not necessarily give rise to an entrepreneurial supremacy force!
Egypt and the UAE share a common enemy: political Islamists. Yet each nation has its own distinct dynamic and the size of the political Islamist element in each of the two countries is different. The UAE is a politically stable nation and an economic pioneer with a small population – a combination of factors that naturally immunize the nation against the spread of political Islamists across the region. In contrast, Egypt’s economic difficulties, overpopulation, intensifying political repression, along with its high illiteracy rate, constitute an accumulation of elements that serves to intensify the magnitude of the secreted, deep-rooted, Egyptian political Islamists.
The alliance formed between the two nations following the inauguration of Egypt’s President Al Sisi was based on UAE money and Egyptian power. It supported and helped expand the domestic political power of a number of unsubstantiated Arab politicians, such as Libya’s General Khalifa Haftar, Tunisia’s President Kais Saied and the Chairman of Sudan’s Transitional Sovereignty Council, Lieutenant-General Abdel-Fattah Al-Burhan. The common denominator among these politicians is that they are all fundamentally opposed to political Islamists.
Although distancing political Islamists from ruling their nations may constitute a temporary success, it certainly is not enough to strengthen the power of the alliance’s affiliates. The absence of true democracy, intensified repression by Arab rulers and the natural evolution of Arab citizens towards freedom will, for better or for worse, lead to the re-emergence of political Islamists. Meanwhile, Emirati wealth will always attract Arab hustlers ready to offer illusory political promises to cash in the money.
The UAE has generously injected substantial amounts of money into the Egyptian economy and consequently the Egyptian State has exclusively privileged Emirati enterprises with numerous business opportunities, yet the UAE has not helped Egypt with the most critical regional threat it is confronting: the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. Meanwhile, Egyptian President Abdel Fatah El Sisi’s exaggerated fascination with UAE modernization has prompted him to duplicate many Emirati projects – building the tallest tower in Africa is one example.
The UAE’s regional foreign policy that hinges upon exploiting its wealth to confront the political Islamist threat is neither comprehensible nor viable. The Emirates, in essence, doesn’t have the capacity to be a regional political player, even given the overriding of Egypt’s waning power. Meanwhile, Al Sisi has been working to depoliticize Egypt completely, perceiving Egypt as an encumbrance rather than a resource-rich nation – a policy that has resulted in narrowing Egypt’s economic and political aspirations, limiting them to the constant seeking of financial aid from wealthy neighbors.
The regional mediating role that Egypt used to play prior to the Arab uprising has been taken over by European nations such France, Germany and Italy, in addition of course to the essential and ongoing role of the United States. Profound bureaucracy and rampant corruption will always keep Egypt from becoming a second UAE! Irrespective of which nation is in the driver’s seat, this partnership has proven to be unsuccessful. Egypt is definitely better off withdrawing from the alliance, even at the expense of forgoing Emirati financial support.
In 2022, military rivalry between powers will be increasingly intense
“Each state pursues its own interest’s, however defined, in ways it judges best. Force is a means of achieving the...
Choosing the Best Engine Hoist for your Garage
An engine hoist is an extremely valuable piece of equipment. It will allow you to remove an engine from a...
Latin America Leaders See Opportunities for Economic and Social Growth in 2022
Despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Latin American leaders, speaking on the third day of the World Economic Forum’s...
Unrest in Kazakhstan Only Solidifies China-Russia Ties
The Russian-led military operation in Kazakhstan has presented an important test for Moscow’s ties with Beijing. In early January, Kazakhstan...
The Subtle Dominance of Stablecoins: A Ruse of Stability
Digital tokens are nothing new in 2022 as the crypto market continues to fold into the traditional financial sphere. The...
2021 joins top 7 warmest years on record
Last year joined the list of the seven warmest years on record, the UN weather agency said on Wednesday, and...
India: West Bengal Gets $125 Million to Help Citizens Access Social Protection Services
The World Bank’s Executive Board of Directors today approved a $125 million loan to the Government of West Bengal to...
South Asia3 days ago
India’s open invitation to a nuclear Armageddon
Finance4 days ago
China: $1.9 Trillion Boost and 88M Jobs by 2030 Possible with Nature-Positive Solutions
Americas3 days ago
Sino-American confrontation and the Re-binarized world
East Asia3 days ago
The role of CPC in supporting leadership schools in democratic countries
Science & Technology2 days ago
Closing the Cyber Gap: Business and Security Leaders at Crossroads as Cybercrime Spikes
Europe4 days ago
The French Dispatch: The Year 2022 and European Security
East Asia2 days ago
The Spirit of the Olympic Games and the Rise of China
Reports3 days ago
Nearly half of City GDP at Risk of Disruption from Nature Loss