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Navigating Tough Times of the Maghreb region

Navigating Tough Times of the Maghreb region www.whoownsafrica.com Navigating Tough Times of the Maghreb region www.whoownsafrica.com
Navigating Tough Times of the Maghreb region www.whoownsafrica.com

The main problem in the Maghreb region is the long-running conflict between Morocco and Algeria over Western Sahara. Morocco says this territory belongs to them, but Algeria supports the Polisario Front, a group that wants Western Sahara to be independent. This disagreement has kept the borders between Morocco and Algeria closed since 1994, stopping trade and travel between the two countries.

Over the years, many people have tried to mediate this dispute, but Morocco and Algeria remain firm in their positions and refuse to compromise. The United Nations, the African Union, and even powerful countries like France and the US have tried to find a solution, but their efforts have not been successful.

Navigating Tough Times of the Maghreb region www.whoownsafrica.com
Navigating Tough Times of the Maghreb region www.whoownsafrica.com

Caught in the middle is Tunisia. Tunisia has tried to be a peacemaker, hoping to ease the tensions and get Morocco and Algeria back to the negotiating table. As a neighbor with close ties to both countries, Tunisia has used its diplomatic influence to try and find a compromise. But the Tunisians have often found their efforts colliding with the stubborn stances of Morocco and Algeria, making their job very difficult.

Despite this regional turmoil, Morocco and Tunisia have managed to maintain a strong relationship based on their shared history and culture. Since becoming independent, these two countries have built close ties in the economy, culture, and security. Economically, trade between Morocco and Tunisia is substantial, reaching nearly $1.5 billion in 2021.

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The two countries have also signed many cooperation agreements in industries like energy, agriculture, and manufacturing, taking advantage of their close geographic location and complementary capabilities. There is also investment flowing both ways, with Moroccan companies investing in Tunisia and vice versa.

Culturally, Morocco and Tunisia are very close, with shared languages and religions. Their common history, marked by intellectual, artistic, and scientific exchanges, has helped create a shared Maghrebi identity. The two countries have worked together on cultural initiatives, bringing their people closer and showcasing the region’s rich diversity.

In security, Morocco and Tunisia have become close partners, working together to fight terrorist threats and disrupt illegal trafficking networks. Aware of the security challenges in the region, they regularly share intelligence and conduct joint operations, especially in the fight against extremism.

However, the issue of Western Sahara remains a sensitive topic in Moroccan-Tunisian relations. While Tunisia has expressed support for a “just and lasting political solution,” it has largely maintained a neutral stance, avoiding taking sides between Morocco and Algeria. This cautious approach, driven by Tunisia’s desire to preserve ties with Algeria, its main economic partner in the Maghreb, has sometimes been seen as lukewarm by Morocco.

Still, Morocco and Tunisia have managed to find a balance, focusing on areas where their interests align, like investment, energy, tourism, and infrastructure, while carefully navigating the Sahara issue.

The broader geopolitical context in the Maghreb and beyond has also significantly impacted the dynamics between Morocco and Tunisia. The complex web of alliances, rivalries, and power struggles in the region has often spilled over into their relationship.

Youssef El Idrissi Slimani The conflict between Morocco and Algeria, for instance, has had far-reaching effects, sometimes creating a delicate balancing act for Tunisia as it tries to navigate between the competing interests of its two neighbors.

The involvement of external actors like France, the US, and the EU has added another layer of complexity to the regional situation, further complicating the dynamics.

Navigating Tough Times of the Maghreb region www.whoownsafrica.com
Navigating Tough Times of the Maghreb region www.whoownsafrica.com

In this context, Morocco and Tunisia have sought to strengthen their strategic partnership as a way to enhance their collective bargaining power and resilience. By deepening their economic, cultural, and security cooperation, the two countries aim to reduce their vulnerability to external pressures and assert their autonomy in the regional power struggle.

Despite the geopolitical complexities and occasional tensions, Morocco and Tunisia seem determined to further strengthen their partnership in the coming years. The two countries recognize the mutual benefits of working together, especially in the face of the shared challenges they face.

In the economy, there are promising prospects for collaboration, as Morocco and Tunisia have complementary economic structures and geographic positions. Establishing joint projects in industries like automotive, aerospace, or renewable energy could boost trade, investment, and competitiveness, while also enhancing the overall economic resilience of the Maghreb region.

In security, continued cooperation between Morocco and Tunisia remains crucial to address the terrorist threats and illegal trafficking affecting the region. The two countries have already increased their information sharing and joint operations in this area, and they are likely to further intensify their efforts to ensure the stability and security of their shared borders.

Furthermore, on the cultural level, the ties between Morocco and Tunisia could be further strengthened through the development of joint projects in education, research, and creative industries. Such cultural cooperation could bring the two societies closer and contribute to the preservation and
promotion of their shared Maghrebi heritage.

Ultimately, despite the geopolitical challenges they face, Morocco and Tunisia seem determined to deepen their strategic partnership, for the benefit of their people and the stability of the region. By leveraging their historical bonds, economic complementarities, and shared security
concerns, the two countries have the potential to emerge as a powerful force in the Maghreb, navigating the turbulent regional dynamics and asserting their collective interests.


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