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.
Three years have passed since the 2011 “Tahrir” Revolution in Egypt. In that occasion we saw the Egyptian women side by side with men calling for democracy and freedom, and the world had the impression that – along with a new season for political rights and democratization for all Egyptians - also a new era for women rights had began in Egypt.
Three years after the Libyan uprising in 2011, and a few days after the elections for the Constitutional Assembly, the country is preparing for the “Friends of Libya Conference” in Rome on March 6, designed to provide support on security, justice and the rule of law in the country. The conference, a follow-up to one a year ago in Paris, arrives against a background of continuing insecurity. The European Union and its individual members are trying to support Libyan transition, but, till now, they have had little impact on stabilization.
Due to several negative headlines made by Libya during the last few weeks it seems that the country is on the brink. The four major threats to a positive development are the inability of the government to impose its will and retain the monopoly on violence, the rising influence of radical Islamists, the legacy of the chaotic administration of the state under the Gaddafi regime and the numerous century old tribal conflicts in several parts of the country.
Sectarian tendencies and antagonisms grew into levels unknown before in the modern Middle East. They were exacerbated by conflicts in Iraq, Syria, Bahrain and Lebanon, and by the social and political uprisings following the “Arab spring”.
The Mediterranean basin is still in turmoil. New geo-political and economic dynamics are traversing the area, while political transitions in North African countries have proven to be very complex and long-term processes. In an era of transformation what challenges do the region’s countries have to face? What is the role of international and regional players and of Italy in particular?