Geopolitics and the Greater Maghreb Security Complex in a Time of Financial Distress
The first months of 2020 witnessed significant diplomatic activity between the Gulf and the Maghreb. However, the emerging global economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic will likely affect some of these diplomatic dynamics. In January 2020, the Berlin conference on Libya offered an occasion for many countries to target Maghrebi partners. Germany largely ignored local actors: Morocco, Mauritania, and the Arab Maghreb Union were not invited. Taieb Baccouche, the Secretary-General of the Arab Maghreb Union openly criticized this European attitude, voicing the regional disappointment for this approach (Affari Internazionali, March 5). Tunisia was invited only the day before the conference, and the new President Kais Saied made an explicit reference to this late invitation when rejecting the offer (Tunisian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, January 18).
Among Gulf countries, the UAE was the sole country invited to the conference. This should not come as a surprise. The UAE is likely the most influential external actor in Libya these days and the only country with the ability to impose choices on Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, the warlord dominating eastern Libya (see Terrorism Monitor, February 7).