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Policy Analysis

Policy Notes

Strengthening Stability in Northwest Africa: Ideas for U.S. Policy toward Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia

Robert Satloff and Sarah Feuer

Also available in

Transition 2017: Policy Notes for the Trump Administration 

February 2017

The countries of northwest Africa -- Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia -- have proven either more resilient or more adaptive than other Middle East states to the political upheavals that have engulfed the region over the last half-dozen years. To varying degrees, however, stability remains a major challenge for all these countries as they face transnational terrorism, spillover from the conflict in Libya, abrupt shifts in domestic political dynamics, potential flare-ups of regional conflicts, and unforeseen events that could ignite deep-seated resentment at a local mix of stagnant economies, endemic corruption, and profound disparities between wealth and poverty.

In this Transition 2017 essay, Robert Satloff and Sarah Feuer warn against overlooking a corner of the Middle East that doesn't attract the same attention as areas facing more-acute conflict. Outlining America's key strategic interests in this region, they discuss specific ways the Trump administration can advance these interests in terms of both bilateral and regional relations.

the authors

ROBERT SATLOFF is the executive director and holds the Howard P. Berkowitz Chair in U.S. Middle East Policy at The Washington Institute. An expert on Arab and Islamic politics, he has published widely on the Arab-Israeli peace process, the challenge of political Islam, and the need to revamp U.S. public diplomacy in the Middle East.

SARAH FEUER, an expert on politics and religion in North Africa, is a Soref Fellow at the Washington Institute. She is the author of Regulating Islam: Religion and the State in Postcolonial Morocco and Tunisia (forthcoming, Cambridge University Press), based on her 2014 doctoral dissertation.


Founded in 1985, The Washington Institute is a nonpartisan organization dedicated to scholarly research and informed debate on U.S. policy in the Middle East. Following in the tradition of seven previous presidential election cycles, the Institute's Presidential Transition Papers are designed to provide a new administration with sound analysis, creative ideas, and useful recommendations to advance U.S. interests in the Middle East.