For decades, Algeria has eschewed participation in international affairs. As a member of the non-aligned movement, the country has been described as “anti-Western,” “anti-capitalist,” and “insular.” Privately, American diplomats describe the government as one of the region’s most challenging to penetrate and understand. But over the last two years, there have been signs that Algeria is changing and starting to flex its economic and political muscles, which has accelerated in the wake of the war in Ukraine, with Algeria capitalizing on opportunities created by changes to global energy markets. Algeria has also increasingly asserted itself in the African Union and Arab League, stepped up its lobbying efforts in foreign capitals and is deepening ties with Beijing. But is Algeria ready for the responsibility that accompanies the role it is positioning to play?
Morocco, like many countries across the “global south,” faces an intensifying dilemma: While it has improved its food production to reduce food insecurity and undernourishment, that progress has stressed the country’s limited water supplies with water-intensive industrial farming practices. As climate change intensifies structural drought throughout the Maghreb, Sahel and elsewhere, these regions must develop policies that treat food insecurity and water scarcity as interlinked crises. U.S. and international support for these changes will be vital.
After years of stagnation in the conflict over the Western Sahara, the Russian war on Ukraine and other recent events could create openings to advance long-stalled Western Sahara peace efforts. Unprecedented parallel visits by America’s top two diplomats to Morocco and Algeria last month suggest that the U.S. is exploring this new opening. The United States should firmly grasp any new chance to end this often-forgotten conflict, which helps breed conditions for extremism and transnational crime, prevents much needed economic growth, and which risks worsened instability from the Mediterranean to Africa’s Sahel region.