The 6th session of the Council of Interior Ministers of the Arab Maghreb Union (AMU), was held in Tunis on Monday, April 25, and according to statements from the participants it was devoted to the security situation in the Maghreb including ‘the resurgence of terrorist threats’, organized crime, migration, and the trafficking illegal weapons and narcotics. The Tunisian Secretary General of the Arab Maghreb Union, Habib Ben Yahia, said “the fight against terrorism and security threats depends on the Maghreb commitment, calling on boosting co-operation and coordination between AMU countries and developing joint security strategies to defeat terrorism.”
Charki Draiss, Minister Delegate to the Moroccan Minister of the Interior, who also called on the member states “to develop a common strategy based on a partnership between the state institutions and civil society to combat terrorism and other scourges that may jeopardize the security of the region.”;
Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, the Mauritanian Minister of Interior and Decentralization, “stressed the importance of inter-Maghreb coordination and cooperation to deal with terrorism”;
and Noureddine Bedoui, the Algerian Minister of the Interior and Local Government, said according to a statement on the meeting from the Tunisian Ministry of the Interior, “it is necessary to identify security threats and to develop a common and comprehensive approach that emphasizes cooperation and exchange of information.”
Libya was represented by both Presidency Council Vice President Kajmen Abdessalem and the proposed Minister of Interior in Libya’s Government of National Accord El Arif Saleh El Khoja.
Tunisian Minister of the Interior Hedi Majdoub said there was a “need for a joint Maghreb strategy to combat religious extremism” and called “for cooperation and [the] exchange of information and expertise between countries.” Majdoub also said, rather diplomatically that cooperation with Algeria and Libya “was good but remained insufficient.”
While truly regional cooperation has yet to materialize and bilateral levels of security cooperation vary from intermittent to nonexistent, the Tunis meeting is the third such meeting in a decade and is one of several timid signs of life from the long comatose Arab Maghreb Union.
After a lapse of nearly twenty years, a supposedly annual Council of Ministers of the Interior met in Nouakchott, on April 30, 2015, for only the fifth time since 1989, it followed a the fourth such meeting in Marrakech in April of 2013, both (as with today’s meeting in Tunis) concluded with statements vowing to increase inter Maghreb security cooperation and intelligence sharing.
On February 19, Morocco announced it would refuse to host the 27th Arab League Summit, on the same day a letter from the King of Morocco Mohammed VI to Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, was published by the Algerian newspaper Al-Watan in which the King declared the Arab Maghreb Union (AMU) to be an “irreversible strategic option”.
On December 22, 2015, Tunisian Prime Minister Habib Essid chaired a reunion, of the Ministers of Finance of the five AMU nations, announcing the launch of the Maghreb Bank for Investment and Foreign Trade (BMICE-Banque Maghrébine pour l’Investissement et le Commerce Extérieur). Chaired in Tunis, the Maghreb Bank for Investment and Foreign Trade was launched with an initial capital of only $150 million US, (300 Million Dinars). The Maghreb Bank for Investment and Foreign Trade was created by the Ras Lanuf agreement on March 10, 1991, but its draft statute was not approved until March 2006, and it was only was funded twenty four years after its creation.
During the signing of the Paris Agreement on climate change in at the United Nations General Assembly headquarters in New York, Tunisian Minister of Foreign Affairs Khemaies Jhinaoui met with the foreign ministers of Algeria and Morocco, ahead of a meeting of the of the Arab Maghreb Union’s foreign ministers scheduled to take place in Tunisia early next month.