Politics and Power in the Maghreb: Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco from Independence to the Arab Spring (Columbia/Hurst)

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9780231703246: Politics and Power in the Maghreb: Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco from Independence to the Arab Spring (Columbia/Hurst)

The world was stunned when the entrenched regime of Tunisia's Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was overthrown on January 14, 2011. This massive popular revolt shook the foundations of a small country, and its profound ramifications have echoed throughout the wider Arab world. Many wondered why they had failed to grasp the extent of Tunisia's unrest. They also recognized a general ignorance about the parts of the Arab world surrounding Tunisia, particularly the Maghreb region, which attracts only a fraction of the foreign interest largely directed toward Egypt, the Levant, and the Gulf.

This book examines the politics of three important players in the central Maghreb -- Algeria, Tunisia, and Morocco -- since they gained independence from European colonial rule in the 1950s and 1960s. Michael J. Willis maps the political dynamics of the region by focusing on the roles played by multiple actors, including the military, various political parties, and Islamist movements. He also examines cultural issues, such as the evolution and importance of Berber identity, and carefully weighs social and economic factors. Finally, he explores the relationship among the three states of the Maghreb and delves into the motivations driving their behavior toward outside powers.

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About the Author:

Michael J. Willis is King Mohamed VI Fellow in Moroccan and Mediterranean Studies at St. Antony's College, Oxford University. He also taught politics for seven years at Al Akhawayn University in Ifrane, Morocco. His research focuses on the politics, modern history, and international relations of the Maghreb. His previous publications include The Islamist Challenge in Algeria: A Political History.

Review:

History, culture, and geography have set North Africa apart from the rest of the Arab and Mediterranean worlds. Yet it would be difficult to find three more different countries than Morocco, the conservative monarchy, 'revolutionary' Algeria, and 'moderate' Tunisia -- particularly in light of the Arab Spring of 2011. Drawing on more than two decades of living and working in the Maghreb, Michael J. Willis crafts a brilliant guide to the ever-changing culture, society, and politics of this critical part of the world. It is the best book on the subject by far and confirms Willis's reputation as the foremost authority on the comparative politics of North Africa in the English-speaking world.

(Eugene Rogan, author of The Arabs: A History )

This accessible and timely volume provides an excellent background to the extraordinary events currently taking place in North Africa. Taking a thematic approach to developments in Algeria, Tunisia, and Morocco, Michael J. Willis highlights their similarities and differences in ways essential to an understanding of whether continuity or radical change will characterize the region in the future.

(Claire Spencer, Middle East and North Africa Program, Chatham House)

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