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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Authorities allowed gatherings in support of Gaza in first exemption to protest ban in place since 2021, while cracking down on dissolved Islamist party.
Israel-Hamas war triggered show of solidarity with Palestinians. Hours after Hamas launched attack against Israel (see Israel/Palestine), foreign ministry 7 Oct denounced Israeli violence against Gaza Strip, indirectly supporting Hamas offensive. Few hundred people 13 Oct took to the streets of capital Algiers to express solidarity with Palestinians; security forces dispersed crowds, citing ban on protest in place since 2021. Under popular pressure to review stance, govt in following days authorised demonstrations in support of Palestinians, and thousands 19 Oct gathered in several cities; marches took place under strict police surveillance as Algiers fears Islamists and 2019-2021 Hirak protest movement leaders could take advantage of pro-Palestinian sentiment to make political comeback.
Authorities cracked down on leaders of dissolved Islamist party. Security services early Oct arrested several senior officials of dissolved Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) party, including founder Ali Benhadjar after they criticised govt, thereby contravening provisions of Charter for Peace and National Reconciliation of 2006, under which former FIS members are required to refrain from making political statements; FIS notably said ruling elite’s “unlimited greed” and “incorrect policies” had led to “political deadlock” and “increasing levels of poverty”. Authorities around 12 Oct charged 16 FIS members with “subversion and undermining state institutions”.
Algeria’s mediation initiative in coup-hit Niger faced setback. Foreign ministry 2 Oct announced Niger coup leaders accepted Algerian mediation to resolve “political, institutional and constitutional crisis”, which promotes six-month transition back to constitutional order. Niamey next day denied claim, emphasised transition duration could only be decided by “inclusive national forum”, thereby asserting desire to maintain control over process. Algiers 9 Oct announced postponing preparatory discussions on mediation until “necessary clarifications have been obtained”.
Cairo engaged in mediation efforts to stop escalation of violence in Gaza Strip; President Sisi announced re-election bid.
Authorities took steps to stem fallout from Israel-Hamas war. Egyptian policeman 8 Oct killed two Israeli tourists and their Egyptian guide in Alexandria city one day after Hamas launched attack against Israel (see Israel/Palestine), fuelling fears in Cairo of possible “imitation effect”. As Israel in following days laid siege to Gaza Strip and launched airstrikes on enclave ahead of ground offensive, Sisi engaged in diplomatic efforts to pre-empt potential repercussions of Israel-Hamas war for Egypt, including mass influx of refugees from Gaza into Sinai Peninsula and reactivation of jihadist networks. Cairo 19 Oct announced agreement with Israel for humanitarian aid to enter Gaza Strip through Rafah border crossing, and some aid 21 Oct started flowing. Cairo 21 Oct also hosted peace summit to push for ceasefire, but conference ended without breakthrough.
Presidential hopeful forced to withdraw amid harassment by authorities. Sisi 2 Oct confirmed third term bid. Authorities continued to press ahead with organisation of presidential election in December, making it virtually impossible for opposition candidates to challenge incumbent. Prominent presidential hopeful, Ahmed Tantawi, 13 Oct said he had not reached 25,000 individual endorsements required to stand in election, after authorities deployed series of measures to block his supporters, including intimidation, arrests and hacking of phones. Tantawi’s withdrawal leaves only four candidates in presidential race, including Sisi.
Authorities displayed confidence that they can extract concessions from IMF. After authorities late Sept announced that International Monetary Fund (IMF) had accepted to merge first and second review of Egypt’s economic reform program, Bloomberg 13 Oct reported that Egypt is seeking to boost IMF loan from current $3bn to $5bn. Meanwhile, anti-govt demonstrations 3 Oct broke out in Marsa Matrouh town on Mediterranean coast amid deteriorating socio-economic conditions; police reportedly detained dozens of protesters.
Parliament passed election laws, but major obstacles to holding votes remained; deadly clashes erupted between rival forces in eastern city of Benghazi and western city of Gharyan.
Election laws continued to spark controversy. Eastern-based House of Representatives (HoR) early Oct approved revised versions of presidential and parliamentary election laws and referred them to High Electoral Commission for implementation. Mohamed Tekala, new head of rival Tripoli-based High State Council (HSC), in following days rejected laws and scrapped cooperation with HoR; some HSC members contended that move did not reflect HSC’s stance, but just that of Tekala-aligned members. In briefing to UN Security Council, UN Special Representative for Libya Abdoulaye Bathily 16 Oct welcomed “some progress” in electoral process, but noted most politically contentious issues remained unresolved, with mandatory second round of presidential election and linkage between presidential and parliamentary elections putting electoral process at “high risk of disruption”; Bathily also noted negotiations between rival authorities required to form new govt ahead of elections remain elusive.
Rival forces engaged in deadly clashes. Former Tripoli-based Defence Minister al-Mahdi al-Barghathi early Oct travelled to his home city of Benghazi, allegedly alongside 40 of his followers. Claiming that Barghathi’s return had not been pre-approved and could be first step in plot to mobilise anti-Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar forces in Benghazi, forces aligned with Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA) 6 Oct attempted to arrest him in Salmani district, sparking firefight that allegedly left at least 17 people dead, including one of Barghathi’s sons; LNA also cut off all communication in Benghazi for over a week. Meanwhile, clashes 29 Oct erupted in western city of Gharyan between Tripoli-based govt-affiliated militia and forces loyal to militia leader Adel Daab (who was expelled from Gharyan in 2019 by forces affiliated to former Tripoli-based govt after he handed control of city to Haftar’s forces); local sources reported eight people killed and 27 injured.
In other important developments. After flooding in Sept devastated eastern city of Derna, anger continued to simmer among locals who blame disaster on poor governance. Total death toll still uncertain: local authorities confirmed retrieving over 4,000 bodies, but number of missing is unclear.
Rare prison break prompted govt to dismiss top intelligence officials; crowd torched Jewish mausoleum amid escalation of violence in Gaza Strip.
Five Islamist convicts broke out of prison. Five Islamist prisoners convicted of killing policemen and two secular politicians 31 Oct escaped from Mornaguia prison near capital Tunis. Interior ministry announced dismissing two top officials in intelligence services, while justice ministry sacked director of Mornaguia prison.
Crowd rampaged through Jewish site. As violence escalated in Gaza amid Israel-Hamas war (see Israel/Palestine), thousands 17 Oct gathered in centre of Tunis to condemn Israeli attacks on Gaza Strip and denounce bias of French and other Western media in favour of Israel, demanding departure of French ambassador; rioters same day burned down 16th century El Hamma Jewish mausoleum near Gabès city (south). President Saïed hours later summoned National Security Council, said “the battle today is against international Zionism”, not Jewish people. As protests continued, parliamentary committee 24 Oct approved draft law criminalising normalisation of relations with Israel.
Repression of dissent continued with detention of prominent opposition leader. Presidential guard and police 3 Oct arrested Abir Moussi, president of Free Patriotic Union opposition party, in front of presidential palace as she tried to file appeal against recent presidential decree related to local elections; judge 5 Oct ordered her imprisonment on suspicion of “assault intended to cause chaos”. Around 1,500 supporters of Moussi 15 Oct took to streets of Tunis to demand her immediate release.
Tunis handed back EU money, dealing a blow to controversial migration pact. After European Commission late Sept announced €127mn for Tunisia in support of implementation of “strategic partnership” on economy and migration signed in July, Saïed 2 Oct rejected funds, dismissing “derisory” amount running counter to July agreement. Commission 12 Oct confirmed that Tunis had returned €60mn in budget support. Meanwhile, 2024 draft budget released 16 Oct made no mention of International Monetary Fund deal, and Saïed 17 Oct dismissed economy minister.
UN Security Council renewed MINURSO mandate.
UN Sec Gen António Guterres’ annual report on Western Sahara 3 Oct highlighted UN envoy Staffan de Mistura’s continuing efforts to relaunch UN-led peace process. UN Security Council 30 Oct voted to extend mandate of UN mission (MINURSO) for another year until 31 Oct 2024; resolution won support of 13 of 15 Security Council members, with Russia and Mozambique abstaining, as council remains divided on Western Sahara crisis.
Shooting incident revived longstanding tensions with Morocco, while UN redoubled efforts to strengthen Western Sahara peace process.
Security forces shot at individuals straying past Morocco’s maritime border. Algerian coastguards late Aug fired on group of individuals after they crossed into Algerian waters from Morocco, leaving two dead; Algerian defence ministry 3 Sept said individuals, who were riding jet skis, had ignored warning shots. Morocco’s National Council for Human Rights 4 Sept strongly condemned use of live ammunition against unarmed civilians, decrying incident as “severe violation of international standards and human rights laws”. Several dozen Moroccan human rights activists same day gathered outside country’s parliament in capital Rabat, denouncing “Algerian military regime” and demanding accountability.
U.S. stepped up diplomacy with Algeria, Morocco over Western Sahara. U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary for North Africa, Joshua Harris, late Aug-early Sept travelled to Algeria and Morocco ahead of UN envoy Staffan de Mistura’s first visit to Morocco-controlled Western Sahara since his 2021 appointment (see Western Sahara); Harris reaffirmed U.S. support for UN-led political process, and announced strengthening of “strategic dialogue” with Algeria in likely attempt to encourage Algiers to distance itself from Russia.
UN expert visited Algeria to assess assembly rights after years-long delays. UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association, Clément Nyaletsossi Voule, 16-26 Sept conducted first visit of UN special rapporteur to Algeria since 2016; in preliminary remarks, Voule urged govt to pardon people convicted for their involvement in 2019 Hirak protest movement and “loosen up current tight restrictions on associations”.
In other important developments. At UN General Assembly, heated exchange 26 Sept took place between Algerian and Moroccan representatives over Western Sahara.
Amid mounting economic hardship, authorities announced bringing presidential election forward to December.
Authorities set presidential vote for December. National Election Authority 25 Sept scheduled presidential election initially expected in 2024 for 10-12 December, with possible runoff to be held on 8-10 Jan 2024; move comes as Cairo faces mounting pressure from International Monetary Fund (IMF) to switch to flexible exchange rate and take other steps which could escalate tensions.
IMF once again delayed disbursement of loan funds. Amid Cairo’s lack of progress in meeting IMF’s terms for $3bn loan, IMF 17 Sept confirmed further postponement of first review of Egypt’s economic reform program and disbursement of second tranche of funds, originally scheduled for March 2023. Meanwhile, statistics agency 10 Sept said annual inflation rate hit new record high of 39.7% in Aug, with food and drinks prices rising by 71.9% over one year.
Repression of opposition continued unabated ahead of presidential election. NGO Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights 26 Sept said security forces in recent weeks arrested around 73 campaign volunteers for opposition presidential candidate Ahmed Tantawi. Court 16 Sept sentenced opposition figure Hisham Kassem to six months in prison for slander, defamation and verbal assault on police officer; his political coalition, Free Current, next day announced boycotting presidential ballot in protest.
In other important developments. Explosion at air defence base in North Sinai 17 Sept killed seven soldiers; cause of blast – whether attack by Islamic State-affiliated militants or technical malfunction – remained unclear. U.S. administration mid-Sept reduced impact of human rights-related conditions on its military assistance to Egypt, withholding $85mn of $320mn conditioned on human rights; Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman 30 Sept threatened to place hold on remaining $235mn.
Floods devastated eastern city of Derna after Storm Daniel caused dam collapse, leaving thousands dead; UN envoy for Libya reiterated support for unified govt before elections.
Up to 20,000 people feared dead after devastating floods. As Storm Daniel 11 Sept hit eastern Libya, two dams located upstream from coastal city of Derna collapsed; water swiped away entire neighbourhoods, resulting in an estimated 20,000 deaths. In rare sign of unity, aid in following days poured from across country. Various state agencies affiliated with Tripoli-based govt sent in aid and some military commanders from western Libya arrived in Derna. East-based authorities however denied entry to Derna to Tripoli-based govt ministers in likely attempt to prevent Tripoli from taking credit for rescue efforts. International support effort also defied traditional geopolitical divides. Traditional allies of general commander of Libyan National Army, Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, including United Arab Emirates and Egypt, immediately stepped in to help, but historical allies of Tripoli-based authorities, Qatar and Türkiye, also sent search and rescue teams and specialized equipment to help locate survivors. Debate erupted over human responsibility for tragedy. Hundreds of protesters 18 Sept rallied in Derna, blaming long-term neglect for dam collapse and chanting slogans against eastern parliament, House of Representatives (HoR), and its speaker Aguila Saleh. Country’s top prosecutor 25 Sept announced detention of eight current and former officials pending investigation into collapse of dams; several others reportedly detained in following days.
UN envoy for Libya reiterated support for unified govt before elections. UN special envoy to Libya, Abdoulaye Bathily, early Sept met with several Libyan officials, including Aguila Saleh and Khalifa Haftar, and Tripoli-based PM Dabaiba. In meeting with latter, Bathily 5 Sept reiterated elections should take place under supervision of unified govt. Bathily in aftermath of Derna flood continued to urge Libyan stakeholders to step up efforts toward holding elections and unifying national institutions.
Controversy over former FM’s meeting with Israeli counterpart persisted. After revelation that Tripoli-based FM Najla al-Mangoush held talks with her Israeli counterpart, Eli Cohen, in Aug sparked widespread protests, leading to her dismissal, prosecutor’s office 2-3 Sept launched investigation into bilateral meeting.
Authorities continued to silence govt critics, controversy over EU-Tunisia migration deal persisted, and President Saïed kept hard stance against austerity despite risk of economic collapse.
Judicial harassment of An-Nahda officials continued. Authorities 5 Sept arrested Islamist-inspired An-Nahda party’s interim president Mondher Ounissi and senior official Abdel Karim Harouni as part of investigation into alleged illegal financing from abroad. Security forces same day also arrested former PM and An-Nahda leader Hamadi Jebali at his home in city of Sousse, released him after 7-hour interrogation by judicial unit responsible for financial corruption cases.
EU-Tunisia migration control deal continued to face pushback. In heated debate at EU parliament, EU lawmakers 12 Sept discussed EU-Tunisia migration control deal signed in July; several MEPs accused EU Commission of failing to recognise mounting evidence of Tunisian authorities’ abusive treatment of sub-Saharan migrants, while others denounced deal’s failure to reduce migration flows. European Ombudsman 15 Sept announced asking EU Commission to clarify how it plans to ensure respect for human rights in migration-related actions resulting from agreement. Meanwhile, Tunis mid-Sept denied entry to EU parliament’s foreign affairs committee delegation; committee later “condemned” decision and demanded “detailed explanation”.
In other important developments. Amid persistent risk of economic collapse, Saïed 8 Sept called on Central Bank to purchase treasury bonds to help finance budget directly, in spite of Central Bank Governor Marouane Abassi’s previous warning that move could lead to higher inflation and greater pressure on banks’ liquidity. Saïed 15 Sept also pressed PM Ahmed Hanachi, who took office 1 Aug, to set up commissions in every ministry to review public sector hiring processes, in likely attempt to break political parties’ patronage networks.
UN envoy Staffan de Mistura visited Morocco-controlled Western Sahara for first time since appointment two years ago in bid to revive stalled political process on disputed territory.
UN envoy visited Morocco-controlled Western Sahara for first time. Ahead of UN Security Council meeting on Western Sahara in October, UN envoy for Western Sahara, Staffan de Mistura, 4 Sept began first visit to Morocco-controlled Western Sahara since 2021 appointment; de Mistura had renounced previous trips due to Rabat-imposed restrictions on meeting list.
U.S. redoubled engagement to advance UN-led political process. U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary for North Africa, Joshua Harris, 31 Aug-4 Sept visited Algeria and Morocco to support UN efforts to revive peace process; Harris notably met with Polisario Front independence movement leader, Brahim Ghali, in Sahrawi refugee camps of Tindouf (Algeria).
Algiers posed as mediator in Niger crisis amid fears of greater instability along shared border; BRICS bloc of emerging economies dealt a blow to Algeria’s membership bid.
Algiers offered to mediate Niger crisis. Tebboune 5 Aug said Algeria was “ready to help” resolve crisis in Niger following late-July coup against elected President Bazoum; Algiers, which favours diplomatic path to ensure return to constitutional order, has intermediate position between West African regional bloc ECOWAS’ threat of military intervention, and Burkina Faso and Mali’s support for military coup leaders. FM Ahmed Attaf 23 Aug started tour of three ECOWAS member states – Nigeria, Benin and Ghana – to hold consultations on Niger crisis, and 29 Aug proposed six-month transitional plan to restore “constitutional and democratic order”; Niger coup leader Gen. Abderrahmane Tchiani 19 Aug had called for three-year transition.
Repression of dissent continued. Constantine court 29 Aug sentenced Algerian-Canadian researcher for NGO Global Initiative against Transnational Organized Crime, Raouf Farrah, and Algerian journalist Mustapha Bendjama, to two years in prison for allegedly publishing classified information; their lawyers same day filed appeal.
In other important developments. BRICS bloc of emerging economies 24 Aug invited six countries to join alliance, not including Algeria; move deals a blow to President Tebboune who in recent months had engaged in advocacy drive to advance Algiers’ candidacy. Meanwhile, Ahmed Attaf 9 Aug met with U.S. Sec State Antony Blinken in U.S. capital, Washington DC, to discuss situations in Niger, Ukraine and Western Sahara; visit also focused on reinforcing bilateral ties.
Govt continued to shy away from fulfilling International Monetary Fund loan conditions, and President Sisi received timid recommendations from national dialogue.
Implementation of IMF reform program remained suspended. Govt continued to prioritise boosting country’s foreign currency liquidity over implementing politically-sensitive structural reforms negotiated with International Monetary Fund. Notably, in effort to boost foreign currency inflow, govt 14 Aug announced measures targeted at Egyptians abroad, including U.S. dollar pension plan and $5,000 fee to avoid military draft. Authorities 18 Aug extended acting Central Bank governor Hassan Abdalla’s term by another year, providing further sign of continuity in current approach.
National dialogue submitted conclusions. National Dialogue Board of Trustees mid-Aug submitted recommendations on number of topics to President Sisi; proposals however fall short of addressing pressing issues including plight of political detainees and exercise of political rights.
Tensions persisted with U.S. over human rights record, stance on Ukraine war. In joint letter, group of U.S. lawmakers 10 Aug urged President Biden’s administration to withhold $300mn conditional to human rights record out of annual $1.3bn in military assistance to Egypt, citing continuous repression of journalists, opposition officials and civil society activists; U.S. administration expected to release decision before 30 Sept. Meanwhile, U.S.-based daily newspaper The Wall Street Journal 11 Aug published article detailing Egypt’s reluctance to meet U.S. request to provide weapons to Ukraine, highlighting Cairo’s still warm relations with Moscow.
In other important developments. BRICS bloc of emerging economies 24 Aug invited Egypt and five other countries to join alliance. Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan 27-28 Aug held direct talks on Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) for first time in two years; talks ended without breakthrough (see Nile Waters).
In apparent policy shift, UN envoy for Libya called for unified govt before elections take place; rival militias engaged in deadly clashes in Tripoli, revealing precarious security outlook in capital.
Amid political gridlock, UN urged unified govt for elections. Tripoli-based consultative body, High State Council (HSC), 6 Aug elected Mohamed Takala as new leader, unseating incumbent Khaled Mishri, with unclear consequences on HSC’s support for eastern-based House of Representatives (HoR)’s plan to appoint interim govt as part of roadmap to general elections. HoR 8 Aug discussed draft election laws agreed upon in June by UN-backed “6+6” joint committee (composed of HoR and HSC representatives) and referred comments back to committee. Meanwhile, UN envoy for Libya Abdoulaye Bathily 22 Aug told UN Security Council agreement on unified govt is “imperative” to lead country to elections; statement appears as reversal of UN longstanding position that elections should be held ahead of govt unification.
Central Bank announced reunification after decade-long division. Central Bank Governor Sadiq al-Kabir 20 Aug said Central Bank of Libya reinstated as unified institution almost ten years after splitting into two rival branches; it is still unclear, however, whether procedures required to make unification operational have been activated.
Fighting between rival Tripoli militias left dozens dead. Members of Special Deterrence Force (alias Rada militia) 14 Aug detained commander of 444 Brigade, Mahmud Hamza, at Mitiga airport in capital Tripoli. In response, members of 444 Brigade opened fire at Rada militiamen, leading to intense fighting with heavy artillery around Mitiga airport and elsewhere in Tripoli that continued into 15 Aug; UN reported at least 55 people killed and over 100 injured. Fighting, which in following days subsided as Hamza was released, took place amid turf war between Rada militia and 444 Brigade commanders (both allied to Tripoli-based PM Dabaiba) for control of Tripoli International Airport upon its reopening.
In other important developments. Eastern strongman Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan National Army 25 Aug launched airstrikes against Chadian rebel positions on Libyan side of border with Chad (see Chad). Dabaiba 28 Aug suspended FM Najla Mangoush after protests previous day erupted in several cities over Mangoush’s meeting with Israeli counterpart.
Grain and bread shortages turned into crisis, and govt reached agreement with Libya to share responsibility for rescuing migrants expelled by Tunis to border zones.
Bread shortages turned into crisis. Govt 1 Aug issued decree banning privately-owned bakeries – employing around 20,000 people across country – from purchasing subsidised flour, blaming country’s grain and bread shortages on their selling of bread at higher price than govt-subsidised baguette. Move prompted most privately-owned bakeries to close doors, while around 200 bakery owners 7 Aug protested in front of trade ministry in Tunis. Trade ministry 19 Aug cancelled decree and agreed to restore subsidised flour supply to private bakeries.
President Saïed dismissed PM, showing continued rejection of IMF program. Saïed 1 Aug sacked PM Najla Bouden and appointed little-known former central bank executive Ahmed Hachani as replacement; move indicates Saïed’s continuous rejection of International Monetary Fund loan terms, including economic reform program that Bouden had tried to advance.
Tunisia and Libya agreed to rescue migrants stranded along border. UN Sec Gen António Guterres 1 Aug called on Tunis to stop expelling migrants into desert border areas and demanded “urgent relocation of those stranded along the border to safe locations”. Interior Minister Kamel Fekih 2 Aug conceded authorities have pushed back “small groups” of sub-Saharan migrants trying to enter Tunisia into desert no man’s land, but labelled claims of collective deportations and mistreatment of migrants as “false allegations”. Libyan authorities 8 Aug reported death of at least 27 sub-Saharan migrants in Tunisia-Libya border zone. Tunis and Tripoli next day reached agreement to share responsibility for providing shelter to at least 300 migrants stranded in shared border zone. Meanwhile, EU-Tunisia migration control deal faced pushback. In confidential note leaked early Aug, German Federal Foreign Office argued Germany and other EU member states were not properly consulted before EU Commission and Tunisia mid-July signed migration deal.
Polisario Front independence movement leader attended summit of BRICS bloc of emerging economies in South Africa.
Amid tense relations between South Africa and Morocco, president of self-proclaimed Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic and Polisario Front independence movement leader, Brahim Ghali, 22-24 Aug attended summit of BRICS bloc of emerging economies in South African city of Johannesburg. Earlier in month, Morocco’s state news agency MAP 19 Aug denied South Africa’s FM Anil Sooklal’s claim that Morocco was among countries seeking to join BRICS, said Morocco would not send delegation to BRICS summit in South Africa.
Ruling party remained plagued by divisions, and tensions with Morocco remained elevated.
Internal divisions continued to plague ruling party. Amid disagreements within ruling National Liberation Front (FLN) over support for President Tebboune’s candidacy in 2024 presidential election, 11th party congress remained unscheduled. Meanwhile, power struggle between FLN’s sec gen, Abou El Fadl Baadji, and president of FLN parliamentary group, Latifi Ahmed Salah, continued. After removing Salah from his role in June, Baadji 10 July took him to FLN’s disciplinary committee for “insubordination, transgression and political deviation” as he refused to cede duties.
Israel recognised Western Sahara as part of Morocco, drawing Algeria’s ire. At Non-Aligned Movement summit held in Azerbaijan, Algeria’s permanent representative to UN, Ambassador Amar Bendjama, 5 July called for decolonisation of Western Sahara. Moroccan counterpart, Ambassador Omar Hilal, retorted that Western Sahara was “an agenda of adversity, hostility and destabilisation” for Algiers. Meanwhile, Algiers 20 July denounced Israel’s recognition of Morocco’s sovereignty over Western Sahara as “blatant violation of international law” (see Western Sahara). Moroccan King Mohammed VI 29 July welcomed Israel’s move while calling for “return to normality” with Algeria and “opening of borders between the two neighbouring, sister countries and peoples”.
In other important developments. After Tebboune 17-21 July visited China to gain support for membership to BRICS bloc of emerging economies, Algiers 21 July applied to join alliance, also submitted request to become shareholder member of BRICS Bank with $1.5bn. Algiers 24 July said it had summoned Danish and Swedish envoys to condemn recent desecrations of Koran in Copenhagen and Stockholm.
Amid significant economic, social and political challenges, Cairo turned to foreign policy, restoring full diplomatic ties with Türkiye and agreeing to resume talks with Ethiopia on GERD.
Successful privatisation round not enough to quell Gulf and IMF wariness. PM Mustafa Madbouly 11 July announced Egypt had sold assets worth $1.9bn, including $1.65bn in foreign currency; Gulf investors played limited role, signalling continued wariness toward purchasing Egyptian assets. International Monetary Fund (IMF) 13 July welcomed sales as important step consistent with reform program, however reiterated call on Cairo to implement structural reforms to improve long-term economic sustainability.
Repression of critics continued to mar national dialogue initiative. National dialogue coordinator Diaa Rashwan 12 July announced that Board of Trustees would meet same day to finalise proposals before submitting them to President Sisi for approval. Journalist Khaled Dawood and human rights lawyers Ahmed Ragheb and Naged El-Bori, 18 July froze participation to dialogue to protest sentencing of researcher Patrick George Zaki to three years in prison on charges of “disseminating false news”. Board of Trustees same day urged Sisi not to enforce verdict, and Sisi 19 July pardoned Zaki.
Cairo restored full diplomatic relations with Türkyie, resumed talks with Ethiopia. Cairo and Ankara 4 July exchanged ambassadors for first time since 2013, with Cairo appointing Amr el-Hamamy as ambassador to Türkiye, and Salih Mutlu Sen becoming Türkiye’s ambassador to Egypt. Outstanding issues, such as stance on Libya and fate of Muslim Brotherhood leaders living in Türkiye, remained unresolved. Sisi and Ethiopian PM Abiy Ahmed 13 July met for first time since 2019, agreed to resume negotiations on Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) with aim of reaching final deal on filling and operation of dam within four months (see Nile Waters). Egypt 13 July hosted leaders from Sudan’s neighbouring countries, announced initiative to end conflict (see Sudan).
In other important developments. In North Sinai, group of detainees 30 July reportedly seized weapons inside police facility in el-Arish city and killed four security forces, while wounding several others.
Parliament approved roadmap for selection of new unity govt before elections, drawing UN’s ire, and oil revenue distribution took centre stage.
Parliament adopted controversial plan to appoint new unity govt. East-based House of Representatives (HoR) 25 July approved roadmap paving the way for appointment of supposed unity govt before presidential and parliamentary elections; HoR presented plan as part and parcel of broader roadmap agreed to in June by HoR and Tripoli-based High State Council (HSC) representatives forming UN-backed “6+6” committee. UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) 26 July criticised “unilateral” initiative going counter to UN-backed efforts to enable elections as soon as possible, and warned it could “inflict serious negative consequences for Libya and trigger further instability and violence”. In response, HoR accused UN of misleading public opinion when describing decision as “unilateral”.
Rival factions set up joint committee on oil revenue distribution. Head of east-based govt, Osama Hamad, HoR chairman Aguila Saleh, and eastern strongman Field Marshall Khalifa Haftar late June-early July made separate calls for “fairer” redistribution of oil revenues, threatening to close off oil production should Tripoli fail to put portion of oil revenues at direct disposal of eastern authorities. In response, Tripoli-based Presidency Council Chairman Mohamed Menfi around 6 July agreed to form committee tasked with “distributing oil revenues” and including representatives from eastern and western Libya. UN, EU and most western embassies in following days welcomed decision.
Struggle for control of Central Bank led to kidnapping, oil field closure. Gunmen 11 July kidnapped former finance minister and prominent figure from eastern Libya, Farj Bou Matari, at Tripoli airport. Tribesmen close to Haftar 13 July shut down oil production at El Feel and El Sharara oil fields to protest Matari’s abduction, who was released 15 July. Tripoli-based oil ministry next day said production had resumed at oil sites. Kidnapping likely linked to claims that Bou Matari early July enjoyed tentative backing of rival assemblies, HSC and HoR, to replace Siddiq al-Kebir as Central Bank governor.
Security forces expelled Sub-Saharan migrants to desert areas while European Union reached migration control deal with Tunis.
Authorities expelled Sub-Saharan migrants to border areas amid spike in tensions. Clashes between Tunisians and Sub-Saharan migrants 3 July left one Tunisian man dead in coastal city of Sfax. As disturbances went on for several days, with local rights activists reporting beatings and arbitrary detentions of migrants by locals, authorities allegedly expelled around 1,200 sub-Saharans from Sfax and took them further south to remote areas near borders with Libya and Algeria. NGO Human Rights Watch (HRW) 6 July said migrants left “with little food and no medical assistance” at Tunisia-Libya border. Paris-based weekly news magazine Jeune Afrique 12 July reported death of two migrants in Haouza area near Algeria, and Libyan authorities late July announced finding several bodies of migrants on border with Tunisia. UN experts 18 July urged authorities to “halt any further deportations”, saying “collective expulsions are prohibited under international law”, and reiterated concern about “reports of racist hate speech in the country”.
EU, Tunisia signed partnership largely focused on migration control. European Commission President Ursula von Der Leyen and President Saïed 16 July signed partnership agreement, with European Union (EU) allocating €105mn to Tunisia to reinforce border management and speed up repatriation of irregular Tunisian migrants. HRW 19 July urged EU to suspend migration control funding to Tunisian security forces, citing latter’s “serious abuses” against Sub-Saharan migrants.
In other important developments. Tunis Court of Appeal 13 July released political opponents Chaïma Issa and Lazhar Akremi, who had been detained since Feb as part of crackdown on govt critics; next day banned them from traveling abroad and appearing in public following prosecutor’s office’s request. On two-year anniversary of Saïed’s power grab, over 300 people 25 July rallied in capital Tunis to denounce crackdown on fundamental freedoms and demand release of political prisoners.
In new diplomatic victory, Morocco secured Israel’s recognition of its sovereignty over Western Sahara.
Israel recognised Morocco’s sovereignty over Western Sahara. Israel 17 July recognised Morocco’s sovereignty over Western Sahara, also announced appointment of military attaché in Rabat liaison office, which suggests impending full upgrade of diplomatic relations. Algiers 20 July criticised move as “blatant violation of international law” that “can in no way legitimise sovereignty over occupied Sahara lands” (see Algeria). Moroccan King Mohammed VI 29 July welcomed Israel’s decision while calling for “return to normality” with Algeria and “opening of borders between the two neighbouring, sister countries and peoples”.
EU-Morocco fishing deal expired. Fishing protocol to EU-Morocco association agreement 17 July expired and was not renewed pending EU Court of Justice’s final decision on legality of including Western Sahara in protocol; expiration leaves European trawlers without license to fish in Moroccan and Western Saharan waters.
Political parties started to position themselves ahead of 2024 presidential election, while media crackdown continued.
Political manoeuvring started ahead of 2024 presidential election. Opposition party Front of Socialist Forces 2 June called on opposition to join forces “beyond ideological divisions” to overcome political apathy and restrictions of political freedoms. Nine pro-govt political groups, including ruling National Liberation Front, National Democratic Rally and El-Bina el-Watani movement, 4 June reciprocated with joint initiative to strengthen “national cohesion” amid “growing risks” facing Algeria.
Media crackdown continued. Algiers Court of Appeal 18 June lengthened prominent journalist Ihsane El-Kadi’s prison sentence from five to seven years – with two years suspended – for allegedly receiving foreign funding for political propaganda with an aim to harm state security.
In other important developments. UN General Assembly 6 June elected Algeria as non-permanent member of UN Security Council for two-year term starting 1 Jan 2024. President Tebboune next day outlined Algiers’ priorities within Security Council, including supporting Sahrawi people’s right to self-determination and Palestinian cause. Tebboune 13-15 June visited Russia, agreed with President Putin to deepen bilateral strategic partnership.
IMF continued to pressure Cairo to privatise state assets and allow flexibility in its currency; govt stiffened entry requirements for Sudanese refugees.
Divergence persisted between Egypt and IMF on economic reform program. International Monetary Fund (IMF) 11 June confirmed that review of Egypt’s economic reform program did not take place in March as initially planned due to slow pace of reforms and, as a result, second tranche of $3bn loan package was not disbursed. Central Bank of Egypt same day said annual inflation rate in May rose to 32.7%, from 30.6% in April, highlighting that prices have not yet declined since January devaluation. President Sisi 14 June signalled refusal to let Egyptian pound float and allow for further devaluation, citing impact on livelihoods. National dialogue proceeded with meetings three days a week.
Egyptian border guard shot three Israeli soldiers dead. Egyptian border guard 3 June entered Israel through Nitzana border crossing and fatally attacked three Israeli soldiers; assailant’s family denied allegations of religious radicalisation, but acknowledged his resentment toward Israel after Israeli forces reportedly killed one of his colleagues. Israel subsequently gave its soldiers authorisation to shoot at any suspicious Egyptian soldier; incident unlikely to undermine bilateral security cooperation, however.
Egypt, Türkiye moved forward with normalisation of relations. FM Sameh Shoukry 3 June travelled to Türkiye to attend Turkish President Erdoğan’s inauguration ceremony, days after Egyptian presidency announced that Sisi and Erdoğan had agreed to immediately exchange ambassadors as part of diplomatic relations upgrade.
Cairo stiffened entry requirements for Sudanese. As thousands of people fleeing fighting in Sudan remained stranded at Sudan-Egypt border with no valid travel documents, Cairo 10 June required all Sudanese to obtain electronic visas to enter Egypt, reversing longstanding visa exemption for women, children and elderly men.
Political deadlock persisted despite headlines suggesting that rival factions reached agreement on election laws while selection of new interim govt remained controversial.
Stakeholders sent contradictory signals on elections and new govt. Following series of meetings in Moroccan town of Bouznika, members of 6+6 joint committee – composed of House of Representatives (HoR) and rival Tripoli-based High State Council (HSC) representatives – early June announced agreement on legal framework for presidential and parliamentary elections. HoR Speaker Aguila Saleh and head of HSC Khaled Meshri 6-7 June travelled to Morocco but failed to sign off on electoral legislation as points of contentions persisted, notably on whether military officers can run for president. Meanwhile, amid competing plans aimed at appointing new interim govt before elections take place, eastern forces commander Khalifa Haftar 16 June congratulated outcome of Morocco talks and called for formation of “technocratic” govt to oversee election preparation, suggesting that he may now favour parliament-led selection process, rather than keeping Tripoli-based PM Dabaiba in office as part of power-sharing deal. In briefing to UN Security Council, UN Envoy to Libya Abdoulaye Bathily 20 June said failure to reach agreement among major stakeholders on eligibility criteria for presidential election, linkage between presidential and parliamentary elections, and formation of new unified govt could “trigger a new crisis”.
Tripoli conducted fresh strikes in west. Dabaiba 1 June insisted drones strikes carried out late May in western Libya targeted sites used by “criminal gangs” for human trafficking, drug and fuel smuggling, denying HoR claims that strikes were aimed at “settling political scores”; Dabaiba also denied Turkish involvement in strikes. Forces loyal to Dabaiba 7-8 June conducted fresh strikes near Zuwara city, reportedly targeting fuel smuggling site.
Tensions over control of oil wealth threatened to escalate. Eastern-based PM Osama Hammad 24 June threatened to impose blockade on oil and gas facilities to prevent exports in protest at alleged unfair distribution of oil revenues by Tripoli-based authorities; 26 June said he discussed mater with Tripoli-based National Oil Corporation Chairman Farhat Bengdara.
In other important developments. Drone strikes 29 June reportedly hit Al-Kharruba airbase used by Russian paramilitary group Wagner; Tripoli-based authorities denied responsibility.
Authorities continued to silence dissent, and European Union (EU) proposed financial assistance while urging Tunis to tighten border control.
Opposition protested continued harassment of govt critics. Islamist-inspired AnNahda party 12 June confirmed three imprisoned party leaders on hunger strike to protest “detention conditions and non-respect of fundamental rights”; one of them, Sahbi Atig, early June reportedly spent several days in intensive care due to deteriorating health. Hundreds of main opposition coalition National Salvation Front supporters 18 June protested in capital Tunis to demand release of President Saïed’s opponents, including coalition’s co-founder Jaouhar Ben Mbarek and AnNahda leader Rached Ghannouchi. Authorities 20 June detained prominent journalist Zied Heni near Tunis for allegedly “insulting the head of state”, released him on bail two days later.
EU offered financial aid to Tunis to boost economy, tighten border control. EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen 11 June visited Tunis along with Italian PM Giorgia Meloni and Dutch PM Mark Rutte, said EU may loan over €1bn to help Tunisia boost its battered economy and tighten border control. Ahead of meeting, Saïed 10 June said Tunisia would not accept to act as other countries’ border guard. German and French Interior Ministers Nancy Faeser and Gérald Darmanin 19 June met with Saïed in Tunis to discuss migration and security issues; France announced nearly €26mn in aid to combat irregular migration. Families of jailed judges and politicians late June accused EU of whitewashing Saïed’s authoritarianism in hope he can stem migration to Europe.
Anti-migrant sentiment persisted, notably in Sfax. In joint statement, human rights and other organisations 2 June condemned violence against sub-Saharan migrants and urged authorities to protect migrants and combat discrimination. Tensions continued to run high in coastal city of Sfax, a hub for migrant crossings to Europe. Notably, clashes 17-18 June reportedly broke out between Sfax residents and migrants, causing property damage, while hundreds 25 June demonstrated in Sfax against presence of irregular migrants.
Attack reported in Morocco-controlled Western Sahara for first time since ceasefire collapsed in Nov 2020.
Bombing reportedly damaged phosphate facility in Western Sahara. NGO Western Sahara Resource Watch late May reported explosion in Morocco-controlled Western Sahara destroyed section of conveyor belt transporting phosphates from mine to export facility; neither Morocco nor Polisario Front independent movement commented on incident which, if confirmed, would be first attack in Moroccocontrolled Western Sahara since ceasefire collapsed in 2020 and highlight unexpected vulnerability of Morocco’s security apparatus.
Israel pledged to recognise Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara. During visit to Morocco, Israeli Parliament Speaker Amir Ohana 8 June said Israel will soon support Morocco’s claim of sovereignty over Western Sahara; move could lead to full upgrade of Israeli-Moroccan ties, with countries’ respective missions, now designated as liaison offices, becoming embassies, and free trade agreement in medium term.
Under international spotlight for increasing press freedom violations, authorities rekindled anti-Islamist rhetoric.
Algiers rekindled anti-Islamist rhetoric. Former leader of outlawed Islamist party Islamic Salvation Front, Ali Belhaj, 1 May announced he was placed under judicial supervision after he spoke to London-based Al-Magharibia TV, which is financed by Islamist movement Rachad (classified as a terrorist organisation by Algiers). In editorial, army’s official magazine El Djeich 8 May emphasised army’s commitment to combat alleged “despicable attempts” by violent extremists to plunge country back into terror. Military 10 May reportedly detained four suspected Islamist militants in Tissemsilt region (south west of capital Algiers) during operation which left army officer dead.
EU parliament condemned crackdown on media freedom. European Parliament 11 May adopted resolution calling for “immediate release” of all those detained in Algeria for exercising their right to freedom of expression, including prominent journalist Ihsane El-Kadi – who was sentenced in April to five years in prison on charges of receiving foreign funding for political propaganda and to harm state security; resolution also urged govt to bring laws limiting freedom of expression in line with international human rights standards. Algiers in following days rejected resolution as “blatant interference”.
In other important developments. Authorities 23 May arrested prominent member of Hirak protest movement Karim Tabbou in Algiers on undisclosed charges; Tabbou released two days later under judicial supervision.
Scepticism persisted about Cairo’s ability to make economic reforms and avoid default, while national dialogue kicked off amid harassment of regime critics.
Cairo made limited progress on asset sales. After long stalemate, govt from late April made limited progress in selling state-owned assets, key step in securing foreign revenues and meeting external debt liabilities. Notably, finance ministry 14 May announced sale of 9.5% stake of state-owned Telecom Egypt, which raised around $120mn; how much went to foreign investors remained unclear. Meanwhile, rating agency Fitch 5 May downgraded Egypt’s long-term foreign-currency issuer default rating from B+ to B. Finance Minister Mohamed Maait 9-10 May addressed parliament on 2023-2024 draft budget, which allocates 56% of total spending to debt servicing and anticipates that new borrowing will represent 49% of total revenues, suggesting that Cairo expects to meet almost all of its current foreign liabilities through borrowing.
National dialogue kicked off amid opposition mistrust. National dialogue between govt and opposition representatives 14 May began after months-long preparations. Some opposition parties, including Socialist Popular Alliance Party, boycotted dialogue, citing authorities’ failure to meet preconditions, particularly release of political prisoners. Meanwhile, crackdown on dissent continued. Notably, prominent critic of President Sisi, Ahmed Tantawi, who fled country in 2022, delayed return planned for 6 May after authorities 5 May detained several of his relatives and supporters on terrorism-related charges; Tantawi 11 May eventually arrived in Egypt after release of two family members, vowed to run for president in 2024.
Conflict in Sudan led to border chaos. Thousands of people fleeing conflict in Sudan in May reportedly remained stranded for days at Sudan-Egypt border. Sisi 27 May said Egypt has received 150,000 Sudanese citizens since 15 April.
Violence broke out in west as efforts to form new executive heightened political tensions, all the while undermining UN moves to organise elections in late 2023.
Eastern-based PM Bashagha dismissed amid negotiations for unified executive. Eastern-based House of Representatives (HoR) 16 May suspended PM Bashagha as head of HoR-backed govt citing allegations of financial irregularities, and appointed finance minister and close ally of eastern army commander Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, Osama Hammad, as interim PM. Haftar’s sons and heads of militias close to rival Tripoli-based PM Dabaiba in May met in Egypt’s capital Cairo to forge deal on new unity govt that would leave Dabaiba in place, while conceding some ministries to Haftar affiliates; some MPs are opposed to this plan, however, and want Dabaiba removed. Meanwhile, as part of UN-backed efforts to hold presidential and legislative elections by year’s end, 6+6 joint committee – composed of HoR and rival Tripoli-based High State Council representatives – 23 May announced breakthrough on number of issues related to elections but conditioned further steps on agreement on new govt.
Political tensions fuelled violence between armed groups in Zawiya city. Clashes between rival militias who battle for influence and control of trafficking routes 21-24 April left at least four civilians dead in Zawiya city (west). Renewed clashes 11 May erupted, reportedly leaving two people dead. Precarious calm in following days prevailed following mediation by notables and community leaders, but tensions rose again after Tripoli-based govt 25 May ordered drone strikes on militia-held buildings in Zawiya, targeting factions close to MPs who want to dislodge Dabaiba. Fresh drone strikes in Maya port outside Zawiya 29 May killed two and wounded nephew of HoR MP Ali Bouzriba; HoR immediately condemned attack, and armed group close to Bouzriba same day closed off gas pipeline to local electricity plant in retaliation.
Concerns persisted over fallout of conflict in Sudan. State-owned National Oil Corporation 1 May denied media reports that it delivered oil from Sarir refinery to Mohamed “Hemedti” Hamdan Dagalo’s paramilitary Rapid Support Forces in Sudan, however locals claimed fuel smuggling from south-eastern Libya toward Sudanese border continued.
Attack at Jewish pilgrimage site left several dead, while renewed violence erupted against sub-Saharan migrants; court sentenced most prominent opposition leader to prison.
Gunman killed four in attack on El Ghriba synagogue. National guard member 9 May opened fire upon worshippers attending annual Jewish pilgrimage at El Ghriba synagogue on Djerba island, killing two security personnel, two civilians and wounding a dozen others before security forces shot him dead; assailant earlier same day also killed colleague. Interior Minister Kamel Fekih 11 May said targeting of synagogue was premeditated, but referred to it as a “criminal” rather than terrorist act, meaning regular judiciary will carry out investigation.
Violence against migrants turned deadly. Armed individuals around 22 May attacked 19 sub-Saharan migrants near Sfax city, killing Beninese man and injuring at least four others; authorities in following days arrested three Tunisian nationals in relation to case and opened judicial enquiry. Over 20 rights organisations 29 May condemned “context of uninterrupted speeches of incitement, hatred and racism against migrants from sub-Saharan Africa” since President Saïed in Feb linked migrants to violence and criminality.
Judicial harassment of govt critics continued unabated. Authorities 6 May arrested Islamist-inspired An-Nahda party official Sahbi Atig, notably on allegations of money laundering and illegal possession of currency. Anti-terrorism court in capital Tunis 15 May sentenced Saïed’s most prominent critic, An-Nahda president and founder Rached Ghannouchi (who has been in preventive detention since April), to one year in prison on terrorism-related charges. Appeals court in Tunis 16 May increased prison sentence for journalist Khalifa Guesmi from one to five years on charges of disclosing national security information. Journalists 18 May held sit-in protest near Tunisian Journalists’ Union headquarters in Tunis to denounce “one of the heaviest sentences in the Tunisian media’s history” and “dramatic escalation in the persecution of the media and journalists”.