Article from ROAPE Volume 33 Number 108
Security & Insecurity in North Africa

Security and Insecurity in North Africa
Vol.33 No.108 (June 2006), pp269-296
The article analyses the North African security situation over the last 15 or so years, but especially since the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington, which provided the pre-emptive basis for the launch of Washington's global ‘War on Terror’. The article explains how and why the US, in collaboration with its lead ally in the region, Algeria, and with the cognisance of France and other European powers, duplicitously fabricated a new front in the ‘war on terror’ across the Sahara and Sahel, bringing an entirely new dimension to the nature and meaning of ‘terrorism’ in North Africa. Far from furthering political stability, security and democracy, as the Bush administration has proclaimed, Washington's attempt to establish itself as the elite power in the region has taken North Africa and most of the Sahel into a dangerous spiral of increased authoritarianism and repression, increased regional instability and insecurity, increased popular resentment of both Washington and the regimes of the region and the increased threat of militant extremism. The article shows how the US has not been able to get its own way willy-nilly in the region, but has instead found itself running up against a whole raft of pressures and conflicts, many of its own making, which reflect both existing and new forms of political opposition and organisation. In focusing on labour and resource issues, especially those connected with oil and gas production, the article highlights the links between abundant oil, rents and the aggrandizement of the authoritarian state at the expense of autonomous civil society. The article concludes by suggesting that the US is unable to maintain its power and position in North Africa as a result of what is turning into a classic case of imperial over-reach.