North Africa is undergoing rapid, radical change. The 2011 protests forced political actors who previously worked in a highly repressive environment to stand their ground in the open. Across the region, new political initiatives emerged, making use of their newly-won liberties. Nevertheless, these groups and movements are finding it tremendously difficult to map the political terrain in these systems, which are either caught up in the fragile process of consolidation or already resorting to bloody repression in order to maintain power.
This is made all the worse by the fact that the region faces enormous political challenges: long-term unemployment and impoverishment, education sectors in need of reform, and a lack of autonomy in terms of economic development aggravated by ongoing foreign debt. Following a brief period of democracy, many governments now find themselves needing to secure their short-term access to financial resources, which is why they have begun to once again embrace the elites of the old dictatorships whose power and influence remain almost fully intact. As a result, we are now seeing a repeat of the very conditions that triggered the protests back in 2011. Given the lack of prospects, especially among the younger population, migration to Europe (and the urge to migrate in general) is widespread. With the exception of Morocco, state actors in the region are failing to address these issues. This is also true in relation to the fate of migrants in transit from southern countries who are either treated as cheap labour or accused of posing a national security threat.