Monday, 11 December 2017
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The news that Brexit negotiations between the UK Government and the EU have achieved ‘sufficient progress’ to move to phase two means that the real negotiating can begin. This is the future trade relationship between the UK, Europe and the wider world. The future prosperity of the UK will be defined by how matters evolve during the next phase.

Paul Everitt is the Chief Executive of ADS the Trade Association of the Aerospace, Defence, Security and Space industries of the UK. In an exclusive interview he tells the U K Defence Forum's Nick Watts that the sector is of crucial importance to the UK economy, so securing a future under the new post-Brexit dispensation matters. According to ADS, in 2016 the turnover of the combined industries was £72 bn; 363,000 jobs and contributed £ 37 bn in exports. UKTI estimates that in 2016 the defence industry exports amounted to £ 5.9bn; on a rolling 10 year basis the UK is the second largest global defence exporter. The security industry export value amounted to £4.3 bn, moving the UK upwards to 5th place in the rankings.

The "Cold War" between Saudi Arabia and Iran has the potential to escalate into a "Hot War". Not since the 1979 Iranian Revolution have relations between the two countries been so strained, writes Joseph E Fallon.

The Iranian Revolution radically altered how Tehran and Riyadh perceived the other. Both Iran and Saudi Arabia now defined their respective identities in sectarian terms, Shia and Sunni, with each viewing the other as an existential threat.

For Tehran and Riyadh, the past became the present. The 1,400 year old battle of Karbala at which Hussein, son of Caliph Ali, grandson of the Prophet Muhammed, was killed, resulting in the schism of the Islamic community into Shia and Sunni, is being refought daily by Tehran and Riyadh. Through inflammatory rhetoric and proxy wars, each seeks to defeat the other, religiously and politically, to become the paramount power in the Middle East.

Since the upheavals that swept across North Africa in 2011 Algeria has been an immovable anchor in a region trying to find stability in the face of wave after wave of change in the neighbourhood: Tunisia, Libya, Egypt and somehow also in Morocco, writes Ambassador Garcia Munoz


Algeria has kept a steady course in the two decades since its civil war ended. After six parliamentary elections since the country adopted in 1989 a multiparty political system, there is no effective challenge to the long-time leader and his entourage other than the President's poor health. However, change is in the horizon because a lack of economic diversification and lagging growth.

In the six years since the ousting of long time strongman ruler Moammar Gadhafi, Libya has fractured into pieces, mainly along tribal lines. In 2014, Libya had just a single government in Tripoli, the General National Congress (GNC), which was voted into power by popular election after the civil war ended. The GNC failed to hold elections before its term ended. Then his rival in the East, General Khalifa Hifter asked for its dismisal. The GNC persisted, and three months later, Hifter — backed by Egypt — launched what he called "Operation Dignity" to try to force it from power. The GNC then did hold elections, but turnout was low, and Islamists backed by groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood were defeated. The low turnout led to claims that the elections lacked legitimacy. A coalition backed by Islamist militias and fighters from the powerful western city of Misrata formed "Dawn Movement", that dislodged the newly elected government — the House of Representatives— which fled to eastern Libya to ally with Hifter. The Misratan-Islamist coalition then restored the GNC's power in Tripoli, giving the country two governments.

Although locked in a long competition for regional primacy with its traditional rival, Algeria, Morocco has benefited from Algeria's large and well secured territory which buffers the country from jihadists in the region and in the Sahel, writes Garcia Munoz.


But economic and social unrest and growing conservative forces of Islam together with rising political militancy are threats to Morocco's long time stability. Contemporary religious political movements espouse a postmodern Islamist model to attract youth who, out of frustration due to unemployment that reaches more than 36 percent, are searching for an alternative to the current system

The countries that make up the Maghreb region of North Africa — Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Libya — are defined as much by the broad desert expanses of the Sahara and the Atlas Mountains as they are by the waters of the Mediterranean. Wedged between the coastline of the southern Mediterranean and an ocean of sand, the populations of the Mahgreb have a long history of interaction with Southern Europe, sub-Saharan Africa and the broader Middle East. Current challenges to political stability, regional militancy, changes in energy production and in the economy — given their proximity to Europe and to former European colonial holdings in Africa, and the continued economic and security relationships between these regions, makes events in the Maghred resonate in regional and Western capitals, says Ambassador García Muñoz.
 
Six years after the “Liberty and Dignity Revolution” in Tunisia, the threats to the country are: first, to improve the economy to meet the expectations of the population regarding development, jobs, healthcare, transportation, education and so on, because the government has still not improved the welfare and the standard of living of a great mass of its citizens. And second, corruption that is corroding Tunisia’s democratic achievements. Of the claims of the population during the revolution, one -liberty- was achieved through the political transition and the constitution. Yet the other –dignity- is the biggest challenge it is encountering because in many ways the Government is acting as if nothing has happened after 2011. This situation makes that the fraught economic and political environment is in danger. At the root of all this is the corruption that is pervading the whole Tunisian system of governance.

We mark the passing of those who have served this country. Contributions from comrades and families welcome.

As the European Union struggles under the reality and threat of countries or regions leaving it (as discussed in "Humpty Dumpty in slow motion"), it might be thought that the United States of America represents a haven of stability. But the Southern Confederacy was not the first or last word on secession, which history shows is as American as apple pie, writes Joseph E Fallon..

What manner of man is the new UK Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson? On the next page is an edited version of a profile by Andrew Gimson, published in Conservative Home just over a year ago when Williamson was appointed Conservative Chief Whip, a few days after his fortieth birthday, and after only six years as an MP.

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