Regionalism in North Africa: the Arab Maghreb Union in 2019

On the occasion of the thirtieth anniversary of the Arab Maghreb Union (AMU), this contribution discusses the state of play since its creation. This desire is all the more motivated by the fact that many events have taken place since the beginning of year 2019. On one hand, set aside at the signing of the Marrakech Treaty, the conflict over the Western Sahara is one of the situations that makes the AMU inoperable. On the other, the lack of stable state institutions in Libya does not allow the country to put the AMU as a top priority in its political agenda. Finally, since the departure of Abdelaziz Bouteflika, in power for 20 years, Algeria is currently in a transition period, while presidential elections are scheduled in Tunisia and Mauritania, in November and June 2019 respectively.

 

This report analyses the AMU from three perspectives: political, economic and cultural. In Chapter 1, the report addresses the historical roots of the AMU and the reasons behind its failure before providing an overview of the current situation. While the AMU founding fathers envisaged an Union which would ultimately lead to a space for peace and unity, the conflict over the Western Sahara makes this idea compromised. In Chapter 2, the report assesses the economic situation of the AMU Member States and examines the benefits which could derive from the achievement of the AMU. The AMU countries crucially lack economic complementarity, which in turn jeopardises intra-regional trade and the project of an integrated market. Finally, Chapter 3 identifies the cultural roots of the Arab Maghreb and the extent to which culture could be used as the primary means to bring each country’s populations closer. Because the AMU countries speak Arabic and share similar cultural and religious practices, there is a real potential for cooperation between them.

 

Throughout the research process, this report collected a number of primary data, namely from the Arab Maghreb Union, the African Development Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the United Nations Security Council. Conclusions are drawn that, in spite of current political challenges in the region, the AMU countries would highly benefit from regional integration, namely in terms of economic development and regional cohesion.

 

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[1] http://umaghrebarabe.org/fr/le-traite-de-marrakech/

[2] Ibid

[3] Lamrani, M. E. (2013), “L’Union du Maghreb ou l’invincible espoir” In: IX I 2013: Dossier: Le Maghreb avec ou sans l’EUROPE? Available here: https://journals.openedition.org/anneemaghreb/1938

[4] https://www.algerie1.com/eclairage/la-relance-de-l-union-du-maghreb-arabe-uma-realites-et-perspectives

[5] https://maroc-diplomatique.net/le-maroc-pourrait-accueillir-les-chefs-detats-des-pays-du-maghreb-en-2019/

[6] Ibid

[7] https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20190228-the-arab-maghreb-union-that-never-was/

[8] https://allafrica.com/stories/201903250599.html

[9] https://www.france24.com/fr/20181107-algerie-maroc-roi-marche-verte-mohammed-VI-polisario-sahara

[10] https://www.huffpostmaghreb.com/entry/lalgerie-saisit-le-sg-de-luma-pour-une-reunion-du-conseil-des-ministres-des-affaires-etrangeres_mg_5bf6a5d9e4b03b230f9f2e07

[11] https://www.elwatan.com/a-la-une/lalgerie-demande-la-reactivation-de-luma-le-maroc-face-a-ses-contradictions-24-11-2018

[12] Ibid

[13] http://www.aps.dz/monde/81912-sommet-de-l-uma-les-ministres-des-affaires-etrangeres-convies-a-une-reunion-preparatoire

[14] http://www.lapresse.tn/index.php?option=com_nationals&task=article&id=156794

[15] https://www.huffpostmaghreb.com/entry/union-du-maghreb-arabe-un-sommet-au-maroc-en-2019_mg_5c0e5453e4b035a7bf5d4736

[16] Lounnas, D. and Messari, N. (2018), “Algeria-Morocco relations and their impact on the Maghrebi regional system”, MENARA Working Papers, n20. Available here: http://www.iai.it/sites/default/files/menara_wp_20.pdf

[17] Balta, P. (1990), “Le grand Maghreb: des indépendances à l’an 2000”, Paris : Éditions La Découverte, p. 19

[18] Guechi D.E. (2002), “L’Union du Maghreb arabe Intégration régionale et développement économique”. Available here: https://www.academia.edu/3242957/LUnion_du_Maghreb_arabe_intégration_régionale_et_développement_économique

[19] Balta, P. (1990), above cited n17, p. 20

[20] Guechi D.E. (2002), above cited n18

[21] Lounnas, D. and Messari, N. (2018), above cited n16

[22] Ibid

[23] Ibid

[24] Ibid

[25] Balta, P. (1990), above cited n17, p. 29

[26] Ibid

[27] Guechi D.E. (2002), above cited n18

[28] Ibid

[29] Ibid

[30] https://maghrebarabe.org/fr/historique/

[31] https://www.elwatan.com/a-la-une/lalgerie-demande-la-reactivation-de-luma-le-maroc-face-a-ses-contradictions-24-11-2018

[32] https://www.huffpostmaghreb.com/entry/union-du-maghreb-arabe-un-sommet-au-maroc-en-2019_mg_5c0e5453e4b035a7bf5d4736

[33] http://www.aps.dz/monde/81912-sommet-de-l-uma-les-ministres-des-affaires-etrangeres-convies-a-une-reunion-preparatoire

[34] http://www.lapresse.tn/index.php?option=com_nationals&task=article&id=156794

[35] https://www.francetvinfo.fr/monde/afrique/maroc/tunisie-le-secretaire-general-de-l-union-du-maghreb-arabe-tente-de-ressusciter-une-organisation-moribonde_3093907.html

[36] For more information, see Akrimi, Y. (2019), "Tunisia: How Economic Mismanagement Continues to Undermine the Democratic Process", Brussels International Center. Available here: https://www.bic-rhr.com/research/tunisia-how-economic-mismanagement-continues-undermine-democratic-process

[37] For more information, see Lowings, B. (2019), "Libya : The Need for A New International Approach", Brussels International Center. Available here: https://bit.ly/2VlAnyn

[38] Mahjoub, A. et al. (2017), "L’intégration régionale du Maghreb: Quelles alternatives populaires pour une intégration effective et durable? Résumé analytique de l’étude sur le coût du non Maghreb & projet de mémorandum”. Available here: http://ftdes.net/rapports/resume.coutdunonmaghreb.pdf

[39] Ibid

[40] Ibid

[41] https://www.bbc.com/afrique/region-48015023

[42] http://afrique.le360.ma/algerie/politique/2019/05/05/26291-algerie-apres-avoir-lamine-le-clan-bouteflika-que-compte-faire-gaid-salah-present-26291

[43] https://www.lci.fr/international/algerie-le-frere-d-abdelaziz-bouteflika-arrete-2120291.html

[44] Mahjoub et al. (2017) above cited n35

[45] Ibid

[46] Lamrani, M. E. (2013), above cited n3

[47] Ibid

[48] Mahjoub et al. (2017), above cited n35

[49] https://www.nouvelobs.com/monde/afrique/20181204.OBS6569/comprendre-le-conflit-au-sahara-occidental.html

[50] https://www.atlasinfo.fr/Texte-integral-du-discours-du-Roi-Mohammed-VI-a-l-occasion-du-43-eme-anniversaire-de-la-Marche-verte_a95237.html

[51] https://www.nouvelobs.com/monde/afrique/20181204.OBS6569/comprendre-le-conflit-au-sahara-occidental.html

[52] Ibid

[53] https://www.huffpostmaghreb.com/entry/5-cles-pour-comprendre-le-conflit-du-sahara_mg_5c45a0cde4b0bfa693c53d4f

[54] https://www.nouvelobs.com/monde/afrique/20181204.OBS6569/comprendre-le-conflit-au-sahara-occidental.html

[55] https://www.huffpostmaghreb.com/entry/5-cles-pour-comprendre-le-conflit-du-sahara_mg_5c45a0cde4b0bfa693c53d4f

[56] http://plan-autonomie.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/Plan%20Autonomie.pdf

[57] https://www.lemonde.fr/afrique/article/2007/04/12/le-maroc-depose-a-l-onu-un-plan-d-autonomie-pour-le-sahara-occidental_895024_3212.html

[58] https://www.huffpostmaghreb.com/entry/5-cles-pour-comprendre-le-conflit-du-sahara_mg_5c45a0cde4b0bfa693c53d4f

[59] United Nations Security Council Resolution 2468 (2019). Available here: https://undocs.org/en/S/RES/2468(2019)

[60] Ibid, preamble

[61] https://www.jeuneafrique.com/mag/680016/politique/table-ronde-sur-le-sahara-occidental-un-climat-consensuel-mais-pas-de-faux-espoirs/

[62] https://www.elwatan.com/edition/international/deuxieme-table-ronde-de-lonu-sur-le-conflit-du-sahara-occidental-le-maroc-opte-pour-la-politique-de-la-fuite-en-avant-24-03-2019

[63] Ibid

[64] Fonds Monétaire International (2018), “L’intégration économique du Maghreb: Une source de croissance inexploitée”, pdf version

[65] Ibid

[66] With regard to Libya’s exports of goods, no table were available on the Arab Maghreb Union website.

[67] Mahjoub, A. et al. (2017), above cited n35

[68] Ibid

[69] https://www.huffpostmaghreb.com/entry/luma-relance-le-projet-de-la-ligne-ferroviaire-tunis-alger-rabat_mg_5c5998f9e4b00187b5550cc2

[70] https://nepad.org/project/trans-maghreb-highway

[71] Ibid

[72] https://www.huffpostmaghreb.com/entry/luma-veut-lancer-une-ligne-ferroviaire-reliant-le-maroc-lalgerie-et-la-tunisie_mg_5c581072e4b08710475513e2

[73] Fonds Monétaire International (2018), above cited n60

[74] Ibid

[75] Ibid

[76] Ibid

[77] https://eng.yidaiyilu.gov.cn

[78] Fonds Monétaire International (2018), above cited n60

[79] Ibid

[80] Ibid

[81] Ibid

[82] Ibid

[83] Ibid

[84] Ibid

[85] Ibid

[86] Ibid

[87] Ibid

[88] Flory, M. (1971), “La coopération pour le développement, nouvel axe d’une politique culturelle avec les pays arabes”, in Politique Etrangère 36-5-6, pp. 553-564. Available here: https://www.persee.fr/doc/polit_0032-342x_1971_num_36_5_1957

[89] UNESCO (2009), “Le patrimoine culturel immatériel au Maghreb – Législations et institutions nationales, instruments internationaux et modalités de sauvegarde”, pdf version

[90] Ibid

[91] Flory, M. (1971), above cited n78

[92] Ibid

[93] Ibid

[94] Ibid

[95] Ibid

[96] Ibid

[97] Pouessel, S. et al. (2012), "Noirs au Maghreb: Enjeux identitaires"

[98] Flory, M. (1971), above cited n78

[99] Ibid

[100] Ibid

[101] https://www.britannica.com/place/Libya/History

[102] Ibid

[103] Kessab, A. and Benslimane, D. (2013), "Etude comparative sur certains aspects des politiques culturelles en Algérie, en Egypte, au Maroc et en Tunisie". Available here : https://www.racines.ma/sites/default/files/Étude%20comparative%20secteur%20culturel%20Afrique%20du%20Nord.pdf

[104] Ibid

[105] Ibid

[106] https://thearabweekly.com/tunisian-and-libyan-artists-breaking-ice-through-culture-project

[107] https://www.goethe.de/ins/eg/en/kul/sup/duw/kal.html

[108] Ibid

[109] Constantin, F. and Coulou, C. (2013), “Les relations internationales de la Mauritanie”, dans “Introduction à la Mauritanie”, ed. CNRS and Centre d’étude d’Afrique noire, pp. 323-360. Available here: https://books.openedition.org/iremam/1245?lang=en

[110] Ibid

[111] Ibid

[112] Ibid

[113] Kessab, A. and Benslimane, D. (2013), above cited n94

[114] Ibid

[115] http://www.ambdz.tn/Relation%20bilaterales/Rubriques%20Culturelles/Cooperation%20culturelles.php

[116] Kessab, A. and Benslimane, D. (2013), above cited n94

[117] Ibid

[118] UNESCO (2009), above cited n79

[119] Ibid

[120] Ibid

[121] Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco and Mauritania submitting to the Secretariat of the 2003 UNESCO Convention a joint file entitled "Knowledge, know-how and practices related to the production and consumption of Couscous".