Maghreb Final Report

The Role of the Islamists in the Maghreb FINAL


Here is our final report on the role of the Islamists in the Maghreb –> Tunisia, Algeria, and Libya


Algeria graphs

Here are some graphs featuring Algeria and political parties and freedoms.

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Tunisia: Stability and Reform in the Modern Maghreb

I recently read a book on Tunisia, called, Tunisia: Stability and Reform in the Modern Maghreb. It was extremely helpful on providing me with informaiton regarding Ennahda, or previously MTI during the Ben Ali regime. It has proved to be a difficult task to find information on Tunisia during the Ben Ali regime, but this book details the role of that Islam played in politics, and how both Bourguiba and Ben Ali exhausted their efforts in mainting that MTI and later Ennahda constituted illegal parties. This book also details Ben-Ali’s rise to power, and the changes he made to Tunisia once he became president. While some of his ojectives sound good such as women’s rights, he still ruled as an authoritarian. By the time of the revolution, Ben Ali couldn’t fix the high unemployment and food hikes. Even though Ben-Ali asserted some rights, he still imprisoned political members of oppossing groups, particuarly those of Ennahda. He also limited the freedom of the press and was guilty of mass corruption. This particular book describes what Tunisia was like under Ben-Ali and has proven to be a big help for me.

Unfortunately, I am not able to get the book, or its chapters online. But the Book is called, Tunisia: Stability and Reform in the Modern Maghreb by Christopher Alexander.

Libya Country Report – Outline

Libya will probably prove the most challenging country in transition in the Arab revolutions. Below is a proposed outline of Libya’s country report:

I. Brief history of the country and foreign intervention

II. Demographics

III. Political economy

a) national oil politics

b) the role of oil in the Arab Spring

IV. The role of the armed rebel forces

 a) NATO intervention

V. The country’s tribal and regional divisions

a)how the monarchy based its political legitimacy on tribal connections

b) how Qaddafi nurtured tribal divisions to his advantage in order to retain power

c) how the identification of tribal and family units function as important social network

d) how these divisions will either hamper or help advance the new Libya

VI. The role of Islam in Libya’s new society 

VII. Libya’s political relation to Algeria, Tunisia and the region.


Libya Demographics

On September 16, the UN recognizes the National Transitional Council as the legal representative of the country.

On October 20, Qaddafi is killed ending 42 years of repression.

Fourth largest country in Africa by area (1.8 million square kilometers) 90% of its territory is covered by the Sahara dessert.

Capital:  Tripoli

Official language:  Arabic

Currency:  Dinar ($1 USD=1.26 Dinar)

Arab Islamic Rule lasted from 642 to 1551

Ottoman Empire lasted from 1551 to 1911

Italian Colonial Era:  1911-1951

Independence from UK & France:  December 1951

Kingdom of Libya:  1951-1969

Lybia under Gaddafi : 1969-2011

National Transitional Council established in 2011

Est. Total population in 2011:  6.6M out of which 1.7 million live in Tripoli

Gross National Income per capita:  $17,068 USD

GDP per Capita:  $11,314 USD

GDP per capita (PPP) purchasing power parity: $14,000 USD money can buy – fourth highest per capita in Africa behind Seychelles, Equatorial Guinea and Gabon (est 2010)

Human Development Index (HDI):   rank 53  out of 169-  Highest in Africa (2010 figures)

Health – Life expectancy at birth:  74.5 years

Education – Mean years of schooling (adults)  7.3 yrs

Adult literacy rate:  86.8 ranking 112 out of 179 (2009 figures)

Gender inequality index (0=equal): 0.5 –  (2008 figure)

9thth largest oil reserves in the world; and 17th highest petroleum production

-The Libyan economy depends primarily on revenues from the oil sector, which contribute about 95% of export earnings;  25% GDP;  and 80% of government revenue.  High revenues from the energy sector coupled with a small population give Libya one of the highest per capita GDPs in Africa, but little of this income flows down to the lower rank of society.   

-Climatic conditions and poor soils severely limit agricultural output, and Libya imports about 75% of its food. 

Exports – commodities:  crude oil, refined petroleum products, natural gas, chemicals

Imports – commodities:  machinery, semi-finished goods, food, transport equipment, consumer products.

The role of tribalism in Libya’s history

Libya is a tribal country.   Academics and political analysts argue that the tribal and regional divisions that have troubled the country for decades will hamper a peaceful transition.  This article argues otherwise.  It reminds us that the majority of Libyans are Sunni Muslims speaking the same language, Arabic and that this similarity should be nurtured more intead of focusing on the rivaliries between regions and tribes.


An optimistic view on future of Libya

This op-ed argues that if economic conditions are heatlhy enough to help pave the way to stability, Libya has a chance of becoming a real democratic force in the region.   Libya has no social institutions in place, a strategy which enabled Qaddafi to control power.  Should economic development be the first priority in this rich oil country before healthy  social institutions are put in place?  Should any of these two come first? or can the country rebuild simultaneously with these two priorities hand in hand?