Describing a decade of developments in North Africa is no simple task. The last ten years have offered each North African State its own redefining moment(s) to grapple with, making a case for observing their distinctive contexts and the complex processes stemming from the different choices and strategies adopted by these countries.
Last year was a crucial year for Algeria. This year could be the year of constructing a new Algeria thanks to the rediscovery of an active citizenship and political engagement by a large part of society and to the efforts made by the new president, Abdelajid Tebboune, to find a way to political legitimization far from military control.
Africa’s largest country is at a crossroads: with the end of the Bouteflika era, a new chapter begins. Will it be accompanied by real change?
After weeks of street protests and setbacks, the news finally arrived on the evening of Tuesday, 2 April: Abdelaziz Bouteflika, president of Algeria since 1999, resigned. Before that decision, there had been several attempts to carry out a transition that could safeguard the regime, but something had definitely changed already last week.
Since the so-called Arab Spring stormed North Africa in 2011, security cooperation with partner countries along the Southern flank of the Mediterranean Sea has been a primary concern for NATO. The collapse of long-standing regimes in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia has forced the North Atlantic alliance to reconsider its role in the region, exploring options to accompany these countries in their difficult democratization processes.
Almost seven years passed since the beginning of the so-called “Arab Spring” and Algeria remains one of the most stable countries in the region. However, the country is facing the consequences of the high instability in neighboring Tunisia, Libya and the Sahel that reached its territory in 2013 with the spectacular attack of the Ain Amenas Gas facility. During this attack, 800 people were held hostage by the international commando of Mukhtar Bel Mukhtar.
Algeria has recently been at the center of multiple discussions and speculations. Several analysts believe that the country is about to face the second wave of the so-called “Arab Spring”. The regime would collapse and a civil war would follow. Six years after the Arab uprisings, the Algerian regime showed a remarkable degree of stability and continuity.
It is well known that the oil and gas sector is the backbone of the Algerian economy, accounting for about 35 per cent of gross domestic product, and two-thirds of total exports; that the first commercial oil discovery was in 1956 and that production started in 1958 during the bloodiest anti–colonial revolt of national liberation in Arab history. And that Italy was at that time – and still is - in great need of this resource for its own development.