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The Maghreb: Social, Political, and Economic Developments

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image of Perspectives on Global Development and Technology
For more content, please see Journal of Developing Societies.

Due to its geographical position, events in the Middle East, the Sahel, and Europe have consequential effects on the Maghreb (Algeria, Libya, Morocco, and Tunisia). Hence, recent economic, political, and cultural changes are more or less inspired or encouraged by those developments taking place in the surrounding environment. Together with Mauritania, the four countries founded in 1989 the Arab Maghreb Union (UMA), which aimed at regional integration. Unfortunately, the UMA remains a distant wish; the conflict over Western Sahara and the political differences between Algeria and Morocco have prevented the UMA's advance.

Each Maghrebi country witnessed particular events and reacted differently to identical stimuli. Undoubtedly, the countries' distinctive historical experiences provide a valuable understanding of the internal logic of the processes they have undergone and the way they sought to tackle them. This article will review the salient developments that occurred within each of the four Maghrebi countries and analyze the ways through which the regimes seek to resolve the challenges they are faced with. The main contention in the article is that the regimes in place have yet to open up the political space and allow genuine democratization to take place, for despite some genuine transformations in a few areas, the old rulers are still reluctant to loosen their grip over power. While they succeed in reestablishing order, the roots that generate cyclical uprisings remain intact. Civil society has yet to fulfill its full potential and enjoy genuine citizen participation.

Affiliations: 1: University of Algiers; 2: Professor of International Relations & International Management, Director of Research in Geopolitics


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