Increase in arms transfers driven by demand in the Middle East and Asia, says SIPRI

The volume of international transfers of major weapons has grown continuously since 2004 and increased by 8.4 per cent between 2007–11 and 2012–16, according to new data on arms transfers published today by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). Notably, transfers of major weapons in 2012–16 reached their highest volume for any five-year period since the end of the cold war. The flow of arms increased to Asia and Oceania and the Middle East between 2007–11 and 2012–16, while there was a decrease in the flow to Europe, the…

EU pushes migration talks with Egypt, Tunisia

The European Union is offering simplified visa procedures and increased economic aid to Egypt and Tunisia in exchange for smoother deportations of unwanted African migrants, two senior officials in Brussels said. The bloc has agreed steps to curb arrivals from Libya, the main embarkation point for migrants seeking to get to Europe from Africa, and is now looking at its neighbours. While the numbers of migrants setting off from there is tiny in comparison with Libya, Cairo and Tunis have fully functioning governments and are able to police their borders,…

Number of Tunisian IS-Affiliated Terrorists in Libya in Sharp Decline, AFRICOM

The US Defense Department’s military section for Africa, AFRICOM has told Associated Press (AP) that the number of Tunisian terrorists affiliated to the Islamic State group in Libya has fallen from 5,000 fighters to a few hundreds. According to a 2015 UN report, Tunisia was the largest terrorist supplier, as over 5,000 Tunisians had left the country since 2011 to join terrorist groups in hotbed conflict zones, namely Syria, Iraq and Libya. The Stuttgart-based US-Africa command enabled Libya’s Government of National Accord (GNA) to flash IS militants out of Sirte,…

Merkel’s trip to Algeria called off due to president’s illness

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s visit to Algiers was called off on Monday because President Abdelaziz Bouteflika was “temporarily unavailable” due to “acute bronchitis”, his office said. “Algerian and German authorities have today mutually agreed to postpone the official visit” of Merkel, the presidency said in a statement. Merkel, who last week hosted Tunisian Prime Minister Youssef Chahed, is hoping for partnerships with Maghreb countries and Egypt to prevent a new wave of migrants making the dangerous sea crossing to the EU. Algeria is a key actor in seeking to stabilize neighbouring…

Tunis Declaration for comprehensive political settlement in Libya

Following a meeting of Tunisia, Algeria and Egypt’s foreign ministers held on February 19 and 20, 2017 to reach a comprehensive political settlement in Libya, the Tunis Declaration supports the inter- Libyan consensual proposals for implementing the Skhirat Agreement concluded on December 17, 2015. According to the text of the Declaration adopted on Monday, these proposals provide for the introduction of amendments and improvements to the Skhirat agreement to ensure their implementation. The signatories of this Declaration reaffirm the commitment to pursue reconciliation efforts, as part of an Inter-Libyan Dialogue,…

Talk of Terror Listing for Muslim Brotherhood Alarms Some Arab Allies

In Morocco, it would tip a delicate political balance. In Jordan, it could prevent American diplomats from meeting with opposition leaders. In Tunisia, it could make criminals of a political party seen as a model of democracy after the Arab Spring. Of all the initiatives of the Trump administration that have set the Arab world on edge, none has as much potential to disrupt the internal politics of American partners in the region as the proposal to criminalize the Muslim Brotherhood, the pre-eminent Islamist movement with millions of followers. “The impact…

Stolen Guercino Altarpiece Worth $6 Million Found in Morocco

A collector notified police after illicit dealers attempted to sell him the painting in Casablanca. A painting that was stolen from a church in Modena in 2014 is now on its way back home, after a savvy collector in Casablanca recognized the work. The Art Newspaper reports that three men have been arrested after attempting to sell the 1639 altarpiece Madonna with the Saints John the Evangelist and Gregory the Wonderworker, belonging to the Church of San Vincenzo. The Italian and Moroccan governments are now negotiating the return of the…