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The Maghreb: The Next Stop For ISIS And Iran?

Al-Dostour, Jordan, October 27

North African leaders are growing increasingly concerned about the prospect of the Islamic State, and even Iran, showing up at their doorsteps. After ISIS lost its strongholds in Iraq and Syria, the organization has shifted its focus to the North Africa, working assiduously to establish a foothold in countries such as Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, and Libya. In an effort to prevent attacks within their territories, security authorities in some North African countries have started conducting widespread campaigns against terrorist infrastructure. In Egypt, close to 30 members of the local ISIS affiliate were killed last week in a military raid. In Morocco, a cell of some 20 Islamists was recently uncovered, its members jailed following a televised trial. In Libya, authorities continue to monitor the borders closely for any suspicious activity. However, one unwelcome guest seems to have walked straight through the front door: Iran. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif recently visited North Africa, calling on leaders there to work more closely with Tehran. Iran’s motives for this move remain, as always, largely unknown—yet its emergence in the region is a source of concern. In fact, the Algerian government, fearing a restive Shi’ite minority in the country, has started compiling a database of its citizens according to religion. You can be certain that Algerian officials are closely listening to the sermons emanating from of Shi’ite mosques, while being careful not to damage fragile relations with leaders of the Shi’ite community. It seems as though, seven years after the Arab Spring, the real upheaval in North Africa might only be beginning. – Mamduh al-Mihini

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