CrisisWatch

Tracking Conflict Worldwide

CrisisWatch is our global conflict tracker, an early warning tool designed to help prevent deadly violence. It keeps decision-makers up-to-date with developments in over 70 conflicts and crises every month, identifying trends and alerting them to risks of escalation and opportunities to advance peace. In addition, CrisisWatch monitors over 50 situations (“standby monitoring”) to offer timely information if developments indicate a drift toward violence or instability. Entries dating back to 2003 provide easily searchable conflict histories.

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January 2024

Middle East & North Africa

Algeria

Ruling party confirmed ambition to play active role in President Tebboune's re-election campaign after years on the sidelines; amid strained bilateral relations, Bamako denounced Algiers-sponsored 2015 peace accord.

Ruling party and military asserted support for Tebboune’s re-election bid. At Central Committee session, National Liberation Front’s new secretary general, Abdelkrim Benmbarek, 7 Jan expressed support for President Tebboune’s candidacy in presidential election due to be held before year’s end; stance confirms party’s comeback on political stage after being sidelined in wake of 2019-2021 Hirak protest movement. Army also expressed support for Tebboune. During inspection visit to second military region (west), army chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Saïd Chengriha, 15 Jan called on citizens to adhere “to the project of the rebirth of a new Algeria, led … by Abdelmadjid Tebboune”.

Algeria-Mali diplomatic tensions remained elevated. Mali’s junta 25 Jan revoked Algiers-sponsored 2015 peace deal with separatist rebels, citing “increasing number of unfriendly acts, instances of hostility and interference in Mali’s internal affairs” by Algiers. Foreign ministry next day denounced Mali’s “use of international mercenaries” and rearmament program “funded by third countries”. Earlier in month, Algerian ambassador to Mali and Malian ambassador to Algiers 5 and 7 Jan returned to their posts two weeks after being recalled for consultations; diplomatic row erupted in Dec over Algiers’ consultations with rebel leaders and Tebboune’s meeting with Malian opposition leader Mahmoud Dicko. 

Algeria took seat on UN Security Council. Algeria’s two-year term as non-permanent member of UN Security Council started 1 Jan, with Western Sahara and Palestine as priority issues on country’s agenda.

Egypt

Amid Gaza war, tensions between Egypt and Israel continued to rise; IMF held talks with Cairo to expand $3bn loan and potentially soften reform program. 

War in Gaza continued to strain Egypt-Israel relations. Israel’s request to occupy fourteen-kilometre-long buffer zone on Egypt’s border with Gaza, known as Philadephi Corridor, with a view to halting weapons smuggling route from Egypt into Gaza, ratcheted up tensions. Cairo, which currently patrols area, 22 Jan issued warning to Israel, saying any move to control Philadelphi Corridor would pose serious threat to bilateral relations. Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) director Ronen Bar 29 Jan met with head of Egypt’s General Intelligence Directorate Abbas Kamel in Cairo to discuss tensions over control of Philadelphi Corridor. Meanwhile, security situation remained precarious along border with Gaza and Israel. Egyptian forces reported preventing drug smuggling attempt 15 Jan on Egyptian-Israeli border near Awja crossing, with six suspected smugglers arrested; Israeli army reported one soldier wounded same day in exchange of fire with armed individuals near Awja. Anonymous military source quoted next day by The New Arab website said they were not smugglers, but pro-Hamas militants attempting to infiltrate Gaza.

IMF showed readiness to expand loan amid economic impact of Gaza war. Insecurity in Red Sea impacted shipping traffic through Suez Canal. Osama Rabie, chairman of Suez Canal Authority, 11 Jan said traffic since 1 Jan had dropped by 40% compared to a year prior, inflicting damage to key source of foreign reserves. Drop in Suez Canal traffic also contributed to further weakening of Egyptian pound on black market. Egyptian media outlet Al Ahram 14 Jan reported exchange rate on black market had shot up to record high level of close to 60 pounds to the dollar. International Monetary Fund (IMF) confirmed readiness to help Cairo. Financial institution 11 Jan said increasing size of IMF loan to Egypt was “critical”, and delegation led by IMF Egypt Mission Chief Vladkova Hollar mid Jan travelled to Cairo to discuss $3bn loan and reform program.

Libya

Tripoli-based govt’s decision to lift fuel subsidies sparked backlash, and latest UN-sponsored national dialogue initiative aimed at resolving political stalemate remained stalled.

Public debate revolved around financial and economic feuds. Tripoli-based PM Abdulhamid Dabaiba 10 Jan announced controversial plan to remove fuel subsidies, in likely attempt to curb smuggling of subsidised fuel. Move created uproar among constituencies and politicians who have ties to smuggling rackets, and eastern-based govt in following days called decision “null and void”. Amid opposition and concern that removal of subsidies without proper compensation plans could cause significant inflation and impact ordinary Libyans, Dabaiba 17 Jan said issue will be put to referendum. 

More controversies affected oil sector. National Oil Corporation (NOC) 7 Jan declared force majeure at Sharara Oil Field after protesters closed site in uproar over deteriorating economic conditions in southern region; NOC 21 Jan lifted force majeure after deal with protesters.

UN envoy initiative to resolve political stalemate found no traction. U.S. ambassador to Libya, Richard Norland, in Jan visited capital Tripoli and eastern city of Benghazi to mobilise support for UN envoy Abdoulaye Bathily-sponsored meeting of Libya’s five main political stakeholders to settle “issues impeding progress toward elections”. Speaker of eastern-based House of Representatives (HoR), Aguila Saleh, 23 Jan met with Norland in Benghazi and confirmed rejection of Bathily’s invitation, insisting that first step toward unification should be appointment of new unity govt. Norland same day also met with Libyan National Army (LNA) leader Khalifa Haftar in Benghazi to discuss political stalemate. Following meetings with Norland, Dabaiba and head of Tripoli-based advisory body High Council of State, Mohamed Takala, around 25 Jan announced accepting Bathily’s invitation. Bathily also held series of meetings, including with Haftar 30 Jan and Saleh next day, who reiterated his side would not attend UN-brokered political dialogue unless govt appointed by east-based parliament was present, or both govts were excluded. Meanwhile, Presidency Council pushed separate initiative, National Reconciliation Conference, with preparatory committee meeting held 14 Jan in Zuwara city; conference would supposedly be held in Sirte city in April and include members of former Qadhafi regime. 

Tunisia

Crackdown on free speech continued with judicial harassment of journalists, and IMF for first time placed Tunisia on so-called black list.

Repression of dissent continued. Tunis court 10 Jan gave journalist and columnist Zied el-Heni six-month suspended prison sentence for allegedly insulting minister during radio broadcast, and released him from prison, where he had been held since 28 Dec. Authorities 3 Jan arrested Al Jazeera journalist Samir Sassi on suspicion of belonging to “terrorist organisation”, before releasing him few days later. Interior ministry note leaked on social media 13 Jan requested opening of investigation against twenty public figures (most of whom are likely to stand in presidential election due to be held by year’s end) on allegations of money laundering. 

Protesters took to streets on different occasions. Demonstration in support of Palestinians 11 Jan took place in front of South Africa embassy in capital Tunis; protesters expressed support for Pretoria’s genocide case against Israel at International Court of Justice. Hundreds of people 14 Jan demonstrated in Tunis to mark anniversary of 2011 uprising that led to ousting of then-President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, and to demand release of jailed opposition leaders. Demonstrations 17-18 Jan broke out in El Hencha village, north of Sfax city, after boat carrying 37 residents attempting to cross Mediterranean Sea went missing.

In another important development. Tunisia 5 Jan appeared on International Monetary Fund’s “negative list” of countries with over eighteen-month delay in completion of consultations with financial institution. President Saïed late Jan extended state of emergency by eleven months until 31 Dec 2024. 

Western Sahara

Reports of Moroccan artillery movement fuelled speculation of possible military operation in Western Sahara; Rabat secured chairmanship of UN Human Rights Council.

Media reports emerged of possible Moroccan military operation in buffer zone. Spanish newspaper La Razón 16 Jan reported movement of heavy artillery in Bir Gandouz area in Morocco-controlled Western Sahara. Local sources indicated Morocco might be preparing limited operation against Polisario Front independence movement inside UN-monitored buffer zone, while Moroccan press speculated Rabat may want to take over buffer zone, which could spark escalation with Algeria. Meanwhile, drone allegedly fired by Moroccan military 31 Dec killed three Mauritanian civilians in Guerguera area, Morocco-controlled Western Sahara. In retaliation, Mauritania early Jan reportedly increased customs duties applied to Moroccan goods entering Mauritania through Guerguera border crossing.

Rabat scored symbolic win at UN Human Rights Council. Morocco 10 Jan secured chairmanship of UN Human Rights Council despite strong opposition from Algeria and South Africa, who argued situation in Western Sahara and Rabat’s human rights record make country unfit to preside over intergovernmental body.

December 2023

Middle East & North Africa

Algeria

Algiers reiterated commitment to Palestine amid war in Gaza, and relations with Bamako soured over northern Mali rebellion.

Algeria reiterated support for Palestine amid war in Gaza. Jibril Rajoub, secretary general of Palestinian political party Fatah’s central committee, 17 Dec visited Algiers and met with President Tebboune; Rajoub reportedly asked Algeria to help unify different Palestinian factions to constitute national unity govt.

Mali recalled ambassador to Algeria. Amid renewed conflict between Bamako and coalition of mostly Tuareg rebel groups (CMA) in northern Mali, tensions heightened between Mali and Algeria, which has been main mediator in peace efforts. Mali 20 Dec summoned Algeria’s top diplomat accusing Algiers of holding meetings with Tuareg separatists without involving Malian authorities. Algeria next day summoned Malian ambassador urging “all Malian parties to renew commitment to implementation of [2015] agreement on peace and national reconciliation”. Bamako 22 Dec recalled ambassador to Algeria condemning interference in internal affairs.

In other important developments. PM Nadir Larbaoui 10 Dec instructed govt to implement wage increase for civil servants starting next Jan, citing Tebboune’s commitment to improving purchasing power; increase will be third and final stage in process of raising civil servants’ salaries by 47% between 2022 and 2024. International Monetary Fund 14 Dec presented conclusions of visit carried out in Algeria 3-14 Dec, highlighting need to diversify economy in view of threats posed by volatile hydrocarbon price, among others; mission also recommended “gradual fiscal rebalancing to limit expected increase in financing requirements and public debt in medium term”. During Algerian-American military dialogue held 4-6 Dec in Washington, American suppliers of military equipment encouraged Algeria to diversify its suppliers (which are mostly Russian) by turning to American ones.

Egypt

Election authority announced President Sisi’s re-election by landslide in presidential vote; Cairo accelerated talks for new loan with IMF, and put forward three-step plan for ending war in Gaza.

President Sisi secured third consecutive term in power. Following presidential election held 10-12 Dec, National Elections Authority 18 Dec declared Sisi winner with 89.6% of votes, and turnout highest ever at 66.8%; Alongside threats and intimidation deployed by authorities to make sure voters turned out, Gaza war seems to have had mobilisation effect on voters, who have rallied behind Sisi’s public stance against threat of forced displacement of Gazans and narrative that he is able to provide security and stability to country surrounded by crises.

Govt accelerated talks for new loan with International Monetary Fund (IMF). IMF 7 Dec confirmed discussing with Egypt possible increase in loan that Cairo originally secured in 2022. News Agency Bloomberg 20 Dec reported IMF loan would be expanded from $3bn to $6bn; IMF expected to request depreciation of exchange rate as prerequisite to agreement.

Cairo continued to promote ceasefire in Gaza. Egypt maintained mediation efforts amid growing pressure from displaced Gazans crowding Rafah border area. Egyptian security sources 25 Dec said Hamas and allied Islamic Jihad rejected Egyptian proposal that they relinquish power in Gaza Strip in return for permanent ceasefire. Govt 28 Dec confirmed having put forward three-stage proposal to end conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza Strip. Meanwhile, security forces 16 Dec shot down drone near resort town of Dahab on Red Sea, highlighting security repercussions that Gaza war and Yemen’s Houthi rebels’ attacks on shipping have on Egypt; another “flying object” reportedly shot down 26 Dec off coast of Dahab.

GERD talks ended with failure. Water Resources Ministry 19 Dec said fourth round of direct talks between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan over Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) ended without breakthrough.

Libya

UN-led push to convene meeting of five major political stakeholders faced setbacks as disagreements persisted on whether new govt or elections should come first.

UN envoy’s initiative to convene stakeholders’ meeting faced obstacles. UN Special Representative for Libya, Abdoulaye Bathily, 18 Dec briefed members of UN Security Council on his latest initiative to convene meeting of Libya’s five main political stakeholders, said all invitees had submitted names of their respective delegations but lamented that “Libyan leaders show no commitment to ending the long-standing stalemate”. Stakeholders have reportedly stated irreconcilable conditions for their participation. Notably, eastern-based House of Representatives (HoR) Speaker Aguila Saleh conditioned attendance to focusing discussions on formation of “new govt for elections” and rejected participation of Tripoli-based PM Abdelhamid Dabaiba on grounds that he is no longer legitimate. Meanwhile, Dabaiba, while ready to discuss outstanding issues in electoral laws, categorically rejected any discussions on “new govt”. Libyan National Army (LNA) chief Khalifa Haftar conditioned Dabaiba’s Govt of National Unity (GNU) participation to inclusion of HoR-appointed govt, or exclusion of both govts.

Drone allegedly targeted Russian military cargo in country’s east. Local media reports suggested drone mid Dec targeted Russian Ilyushin military cargo aircraft in Jufra airbase in central Libya; U.S. Africa Command denied involvement. Cargo plane could have presumably been used to deliver equipment to Haftar or to his allies as Jufra airbase falls under LNA’s authority; base is also known, however, to be transit point for Russian military activity in neighbouring African states. Some foreign analysts suggested strike could be work of Tripoli-based authorities who possess armed drones but whether these have sufficient autonomy to carry out strike in Jufra, some 500 kilometres from capital, is unclear.

In other important developments. UN Mission 21 Dec expressed concern over death in custody of former Defence Minister Al-Mahdi al-Barghathi after authorities in Oct arrested him in Benghazi city, demanded independent investigation. Presidency Council early Dec expressed concern after Niger in Nov repelled law that criminalised transportation of irregular migrants to neighbouring Libya and Algeria for onward travel to Europe, while GNU reportedly appealed for urgent EU support to secure country’s southern border.

Tunisia

Local elections recorded low voter turnout amid boycott by parties across political spectrum; repression of govt critics continued.

Local council elections underscored voter disaffection. First round of local elections, which will determine composition of second chamber of parliament, took place 24 Dec; some 150 intellectual and political figures mid Dec signed petition calling for election boycott, saying vote would participate in “consolidation of the system of repression and oppression”. Election Commission 27 Dec placed turnout at 11.84%, highlighting high level of voter disaffection; second round scheduled for Feb 2024.

Crackdown on businessmen and journalists continued. Authorities 12 Dec issued arrest warrant against Adel Grar, former managing director of Al Karama Holding (responsible for sale of companies confiscated during 2010-2011 revolution), for allegedly using his position to obtain unjustified advantage and improperly disposing of public or private funds. Police 28 Dec arrested journalist Zied el-Hani and judge later issued arrest warrant against him for defamation against trade minister. Opposition Free Destourian Party mid Dec said authorities banned demonstration in support of party president Abir Moussi, who has been in detention since 3 Oct following scuffle with staff of president’s palace.

In other important developments. Shortages of basic commodities persisted, leading to tense scenes in queues, filmed and broadcast on social networks. Notably, Tunis region 7 Dec ran out of fuel for several days due to delayed delivery by tanker, and many bakeries around Tunis mid Dec were unable to make bread due to shortage of flour. Meanwhile, interior ministry said National Guard and military personnel 27 Dec killed three “terrorists” in mountainous area of Kasserine near Algerian border.

Western Sahara

In renewed effort for Western Sahara conflict resolution, U.S. administration dispatched key North Africa diplomat to conduct new round of consultations with Algeria and Morocco.

U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary for North Africa, Joshua Harris, 7 Dec met with Algerian FM Ahmed Attaf in capital Algiers, and 17 Dec met with Moroccan FM Nasser Bourita in capital Rabat. Washington’s engagement with both Algeria and Morocco is part of U.S. efforts to take more balanced stance on Western Sahara dispute in context where regional repercussions of Gaza war increase risk of escalation.

November 2023

Middle East & North Africa

Algeria

President Tebboune appointed new PM in apparent preparation for re-election bid; Algiers reiterated support for Palestine and appeared set to mend diplomatic ties with Spain.

Tebboune continued to centralise decision-making ahead of re-election campaign. One year ahead of presidential election scheduled for Dec 2024, Tebboune 11 Nov appointed his chief of staff, Nadir Larbaoui, as PM. Move took place few weeks after Tebboune reorganised president’s office, appointing several advisers whose responsibilities appear to duplicate those of govt. Meanwhile, historical ruling party, National Liberation Front, 13 Nov elected Abdelkrim Benmbarek as new general secretary; in inaugural statement, Benmbarek praised Tebboune’s track record and vowed to support his “vision”, pointing to party’s ambition to return to prominence after being sidelined in wake of 2019-2021 Hirak protest movement.

Algiers sent ambassador to Spain, ending 19-month crisis. Govt 16 Nov appointed new ambassador to Spain; post had remained vacant since Algiers in March 2022 recalled its diplomatic representative in protest at Madrid’s recognition of Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara.

In other important developments. Tebboune 6 Nov called on International Criminal Court to take action to hold Israel accountable for crimes committed against Palestinians in Gaza since October. Army chief of staff, Saïd Chengriha, 12 Nov began visit to China in bid to diversify weapons and military equipment purchases as Algeria’s main arms supplier, Russia, faces difficulties in fulfilling export contracts amid Ukraine war.

Egypt

Presidential election campaign kicked off, with President Sisi set to win third term in December; Cairo allowed entry of several groups of wounded Palestinians and dual nationals from Gaza Strip.

Sisi bound for re-election having sidelined all serious contenders. Election authority 8 Nov announced final four candidates in 10-12 Dec presidential election, and electoral campaign started 9 Nov. Amid ongoing restrictions on free speech, Sisi’s re-election for third term is virtually guaranteed even as country grapples with record inflation and massive debt. Prominent presidential hopeful Ahmed Tantawi, who in Oct withdrew his presidential bid after failing to gather necessary endorsements to run, 28 Nov faced trial on charges of “circulating election-related papers without official authorisation”.

Some wounded Palestinians and foreign passport holders left Gaza Strip for Egypt. Cairo 1 Nov for first time allowed 76 wounded Palestinians and 335 dual nationals stranded in Gaza Strip to pass through Rafah border crossing. Evacuations in following weeks continued at slow pace amid difficult security situation, and truck carrying fuel 15 Nov crossed from Egypt into Gaza for first time since start of Israel’s war with Hamas. Pause in fighting between Israel and Hamas 24-30 Nov allowed larger amounts of fuel and humanitarian aid to reach Gaza (see Israel/Palestine). Foreign ministry 14 Nov once again rejected Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich’s suggestion that Palestinians leave Gaza, slamming it as “irresponsible” and violation of international law.

International donors offered fresh support amid new pressures arising from Gaza. With war in Gaza putting new strain on Egypt’s economy, notably threatening tourism industry and natural gas imports, ratings agency Fitch 3 Nov downgraded Egypt’s sovereign rating from B to B-, while country’s main international partners appeared set to offer fresh credit. Cairo 14 Nov reported Qatar was ready to invest $1.5bn in Egypt’s industrial sector in 2024. EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen 18 Nov visited Egypt, reportedly discussed possibility of enhanced partnership on migration and economic cooperation with Sisi.

Libya

Attempts to break political deadlock and unify state institutions continued to fail as distrust between rival authorities remained high.

Rival authorities remained at loggerheads on new unified executive and elections. Heads of rival assemblies, Aghela Saleh of eastern-based House of Representatives (HoR), and Mohamed Takala of Tripoli-based High State Council (HSC), around 8 Nov met in Egypt but failed to reach breakthrough; Saleh continued to back HoR-approved election laws and called for formation of interim unity govt, while Takala insisted that his assembly did not approve final version of laws and allegedly refused to back new govt formation. Taking stock of impasse, UN envoy Abdoulaye Bathily 23 Nov invited key stakeholders – Presidential Council, HoR, HSC, Tripoli-based govt and Libyan National Army – to attend meeting to reach settlement on outstanding issues pertaining to electoral process. Eastern-based govt of Osama Hamad immediately denounced its exclusion from UN-led talks, said Bathily has “entrenched division among Libyans” and called on UN Sec Gen António Guterres to “appoint a new UN envoy”.

Unified mechanism to lead reconstruction of flood-hit city of Derna remained elusive. Eastern-based govt headed by Osama Hamad 1-2 Nov hosted international conference for reconstruction of Derna city following September devastating floods; over 70 foreign companies and handful of diplomats attended, but Tripoli-based authorities were not invited and western diplomats, who do not recognise eastern-based govt, boycotted. UN mission (UNSMIL) continued to call for unified and coordinated mechanism for reconstruction, warning that unilateral initiatives risk deepening existing rift between rival administrations.

In other important developments. Tensions remained elevated in eastern city of Benghazi and western city of Gharyan following deadly fighting in October; separate incidents were triggered by return of two military commanders to their hometowns, and served as reminder that perceptions of hostile movement by rival forces can fuel localised violence. Meanwhile, dispute between Tripoli-based PM Abdulhamid Dabaiba and Central Bank Governor Seddiq al-Kebir early Nov reached new peak, allegedly over latter’s plan to meet eastern-based authorities; following spat, al-Kebir reportedly left Tripoli and flew out to Türkiye. Turkish Parliament 30 Nov approved extension of military mission in Libya for additional 24 months.

Tunisia

In surprise move, President Saïed objected to bill criminalising normalisation with Israel, while authorities detained several high-profile businessmen on corruption allegations.

Saïed changed tack on bill to criminalise normalising relations with Israel. Parliament 2 Nov started debating draft law criminalising recognition or establishment of relations with Israel. Parliament Speaker Brahim Bouderbala same day suspended session, citing Saïed’s concern that bill could harm Tunisia’s foreign affairs and security, and Saïed next day confirmed he objected to bill. MP and rapporteur for Rights and Freedoms Committee, Mohamed Ali, 6 Nov said U-turn came after U.S. threatened “economic and military sanctions”.

Security forces arrested several prominent businessmen. Police 7 Nov arrested Marouane Mabrouk, head of country’s largest oligopolistic group and one-time son-in-law of former President Ben Ali, as well as former Transportation Minister Abderrahim Zouari, representative in Tunisia of French car company Peugeot. Judiciary few days later issued arrest warrants against them, notably for corruption and money laundering. Authorities 14 Nov also arrested coordinator of leftist Al Qotb party, Riadh Ben Fadhel, allegedly in relation to his buyback of Ben Ali’s cars. Moves came as mandate of special commission set up in 2022 expired, having failed to collect up to €4bn allegedly looted by businessmen under Ben Ali.

In other important developments. Interior ministry 7 Nov said security and defence forces had apprehended all five individuals convicted of terrorism who late Oct escaped from Mornaguia high-security prison. New clashes between security forces and sub-Saharan African migrants reported 24 Nov in Al Amra neighbourhood on outskirts of country’s second largest city of Sfax, with unclear casualties; police and national guard in following days allegedly locked area down searching for gun and ammunition reportedly lost during confrontation.

Western Sahara

Polisario Front independence movement launched rare rocket attacks in Morocco-controlled Western Sahara.

Four explosions overnight 28-29 Oct struck Moroccan-controlled city of Smara; Polisario claimed rocket attacks, said it targeted military infrastructures, but rockets hit residential areas, leaving one civilian dead and three others injured. New round of attacks reported 5 Nov in same area, with no casualties. Moroccan authorities opened investigation into blasts and FM Nasser Bourita 15 Nov said investigation’s outcome will inform Morocco’s response.

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