Magharebia (Washington DC)

North Africa: Maghreb States Develop Partnerships

Nouakchott — Rampant security threats in the Maghreb are encouraging states to extend a hand of co-operation.

Morocco's King Mohammed VI on Sunday (March 31st) wrapped up a 15-day trip to Senegal, Côte d'Ivoire and Gabon. Security matters topped the agenda, along with economic and political co-operation.

The monarch and Gabon President Ali Bongo Ondimba urged the international community to eradicate piracy and terrorism, while in Cote d'Ivoire, Morocco signed a civil protection accord.

Morocco's efforts to boost south-south ties should set an example, analysts say.

"Effective African co-operation is needed to fight insecurity," political analyst Samir Tahani ahani told Magharebia. "The challenge can only be met through a multi-sectoral approach including security measures and development goals."

Maghreb partnerships should be a priority, agreed analyst Souad Chebri. Co-operation, however, was "not yet up to the level of economic or security aspirations".

"Maghreb countries are called to redouble their efforts and to build political will in order to establish a true partnership, away from politicians' discourses which do not help deliver the expected results," she added.

"Everyone is now aware that any disturbance in the world can have adverse effects not only on neighbouring regions but also globally. Therefore, co-operation must be exemplary at the regional level and extend subsequently to the international level," she noted.

One way to strengthen security, boost development and ease access between Maghreb states is to develop the transportation sector.

Last week in Nouakchott, the 14th Maghreb Ministerial Council agreed to adopt concrete programmes to support regional co-operation.

Transportation ministers said they wanted to speed up a Maghreb convention on private rail.

Tunisian Transportation Minister Abdul Karim Harouni said that he would like to strengthen relations to better serve the desired goal of building the Maghreb Union.

"This requires that they activate all means of transport among themselves in order to benefit as a whole," confirmed Moroccan Transportation Minister Aziz Rabbah.

"I think that this meeting to discuss the problem of transport between the five countries will be at least a building block for the Maghreb," regional relations researcher Mustafa Ould Bashir said.

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