July 26, 2010, 12:45 p.m.
After surviving a tumultuous several decades consisting of civil wars and slow economic growth, the countries that make up North Africa are beginning to develop and modernize their political institutions. The often overlooked region has its share of both positive developments and hurdles to overcome. Morocco, for example, made massive reforms to its family law, greatly enhancing the legal rights of women. Yet this has not been met with widespread enforcement, and the country still struggles with poverty and a high illiteracy rate. The German Marshall Fund has released a paper, which explores recent economic and political developments in North Africa, and how the West has attempted to influence their development.
Today, European and U.S. policy toward the region remains diffuse, fragmented, and largely uncoordinated. Each sees the region through its own prism and neither has had the diplomatic energy to redress root causes of persistent economic and political pathology. And yet, four countries of North Africa — Morocco, Algeria, Libya, and Tunisia — together represent an opportunity for the United States and Europe to collaborate with the governments, their respective peoples and each other to deepen on-going economic reform and secure those reforms through better, and hopefully more democratic governance.