NewsNorth Africa

Tue,26Jul2016

North Africa

Mauritania's time to right a wrong

That Mauritania is an Arab country is a cultural and geographical fact that none can deny. That Mauritania is also a sub-Saharan African country with a negro-African culture is also a fact no one can deny.

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Do female African journalists get the respect they deserve?

The Committee to Protect Journalists' 2016 edition of Attacks on the Press focuses on gender-based attacks on journalists, a problem compounded by fear of discrimination in the workplace if the victims speak out.

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Morocco gets two-year $3.5 billion IMF credit line

Photo©Reuters/ Kim Kyung-HoonThe International Monetary Fund (IMF) has granted Morocco a two-year $3.5 billion credit line for structural reforms to prompt more rapid and inclusive economic growth, Rabat's finance ministry said on Saturday.

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Tax avoidance: how it works and how to stop it

Illustration © Christophe ChauvinThe Panama Papers have put the spotlight on tax avoidance once again. This is, of course, not a new issue. Before that, we had Swiss Leaks and BVI Leaks. You may be asking: how does tax avoidance work and why have policymakers struggled to rein it in?

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Death of French troops in Libya raises questions about terms of engagement

A Libyan military soldier talks on a walkie-talkie outside an empty damaged building that was used by Islamic militias during heavy clashes. Photo: Mohammed El-Sheikhy/AP/SIPAThe death of three French soldiers in Libya on Wednesday has raised questions abut the coordination between Western powers and the country's recently installed UN-backed government in their fight to uproot the Islamic State (IS) from its Libyan stronghold.

Western countries are under growing pressure to counter Libya’s descent towards failed-state status. The country has become lawless in many areas and it is now a major transit point for thousands of migrants and refugees on their way to Europe.

In response to the threat of IS and record levels of migration, France, the US, Italy and Britain have begun scores of special forces operations and aerial sorties over Libya, where IS has taken root around Sirte.

But western governments are treading a fine line between meddling and security, according to Libya’s new Government of National Accord (GNA). "The Presidential Council expresses its deep discontent at the French presence in eastern Libya without coordination with the Council, which was declared by the government of France," the unity government said in a statement.

Western powers are foursquare behind Libya’s government, despite doubts about the grouping’s make-up and fragility. The fact that GNA prime minister Fayez Serraj has been able to establish a presence in Tripoli is seen as a major step forward. But opposition to any form of intervention runs deep, as it did when opposition to ‘foreign meddling’ derailed British, French and other efforts to support the post-Gaddafi transition.

European military and intelligence officers are concerned that politicians will agree a major ramping up of operations without a long-term vision that includes non-military elements. A senior European commander told The Africa Report: “If there is to be an intervention with a long-term positive impact, it must be the result of an all-round economic and political, as well as military, effort — and it must envisage post-conflict reconstruction from the very start.”

British military operations have failed to reduce migration to Europe, according to the UK's House of Lords European Union, which concluded that Operation Sophia, the naval mission to tackle people-smuggling in the central Mediterranean, was failing to disrupt the traffic “in any meaningful way”.

IS’s penetration of Libya after the death of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 is one element in a multifaceted problem that has left Western politicians foundering. According to a British intelligence source: “Whitehall generally has a two-year concentration span, focusing on an issue to the detriment of most others. IS has been that issue and, as it wanes, migration has come to the top of the agenda.” In Libya, both those issues come together for British Prime Minister Theresa May and her counterparts in the so-called P3 European grouping leading on Libyan security.

Military strategists fully understand the threat, but fear they could be called to arms again at very short notice in response to another ‘strategic shock’, such as a major terrorist incident directly linked to Libya.
More air strikes and military advisers are expected. Missions like the EU’s so-far toothless Border Management Assistance Mission in Libya could be ramped up. But while doubts persist over who is really in charge, a coordinated Western response will be very hard to achieve.

Moroccan and Dubai banks interested in Barclays Egypt sale - sources

Photo©Reuters/Suzanne Plunkett/File PhotoBarclays has begun a formal process to sell its Egyptian unit, with at least two banks from the Middle East and North Africa region expressing interest in the business, sources familiar with the matter said on Tuesday.

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