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Peace and security in Africa: Drivers and implications of North Africa’s southern gaze

October 2019

Lidet Tadesse Shiferaw, ECDPM paper, October 2019

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Recent years have seen a North African ‘comeback’ to the continent, with many North African countries strategically expanding their presence and seizing economic opportunities in Africa, while securing strategic foreign policy goals.

This paper provides an analysis of the strategic interests and agenda of Algeria, Morocco and Egypt in the domain of peace and security on the African continent. It unpacks why Algeria is a dominant actor in the African Union (AU) while its bilateral economic footprint in the continent is limited; how Morocco deploys economic and spiritual diplomacy to secure its national and geostrategic interests; what explains Egypt’s gravitation back to the continent; and what it means for peace and security in North Africa and the Horn.

Despite the diverse ways in which they pursue their interests in and signal their engagement on the continent, the paper finds that a common denominator in the approach of these three countries is the fact that they all consider their visibility at the AU level to be a means of achieving their strategic objectives. It is not yet clear what this means for the AU and its ability to keep peace in North Africa – a region that consists of the continent’s largest economies and three key funders of the Union.

Whether or not the AU will be able to pull competing interests of member states together to collectively shape the continent’s relationship with international partners like the EU, is also to be seen.


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Photo courtesy of UN Mission in Mali via Flickr.

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Security and ResilienceDiscussion Papers (series)AlgeriaEgyptMoroccoNorth Africa