North Africa might be facing tremendous instability and many uncertainties in 2017 as the result of three main factors:
- The after-effects of the failed Arab Spring;
- The rise of religious extremism; and
- Its influence on the marginalized youth and ongoing economic hardships.
The key political players in the arena are still traditional systems represented by: a consensual monarchy in Morocco facing tremendous challenges because of lack of social justice and equal opportunity; patriarchal tribalism doubled by fragile military rentier states in Mauritania and Algeria confronted by possible popular uprisings anytime or possible military coup; an explosive and tribally-fragmented Libya on the verge of becoming an official failed state, and a fragile and volatile democracy in Tunisia threatened by violent religious extremism.
All of these Maghreb countries are living dangerously in the shade of over-looming religious fanaticism that thrives on social inequalities and youth dissatisfaction and anger and are dangerously tightrope-walking hoping to reach safety, at the least cost possible, with the hope to make political status quo a solution acceptable to all the protagonists, as long as possible.
In this particular state of affairs very little has changed since the advent of independence in the fifties of the last century. Youth is still marginalized and the patriarchal tribal systems are omnipresent, stronger than ever, women continue to be discriminated against and the same is true of minorities, education is in shambles and only leading to unemployment and more frustration, equity and equality are a wishful thinking, and democracy is many light years away, if ever.
So, in many ways the future looks very bleak, and all the ingredients are there for potential uprisings and explosions of violence.