Old rivalries, new tensions, & innovative solutions

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Morocco and Algeria's escalating conflict is threatening to spill over into Europe as well. In light of the fragile state of the energy market as a result of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, Algerian gas sanctions on Morocco and Spain may have yet another destabilizing effect.

The situation also poses new challenges for border security. A recent report by the United Institute of Peace (USIP) concluded: “Border security in North Africa hinges on national capabilities and international cooperation. When systems exist side by side but do not coordinate or collaborate, it creates a security vacuum and opportunities that can be and are exploited by militant actors in the region. Terrorist groups in the region benefit from the contraband economy, the culture of low-level corruption, and the porous borders such practices engender.

Old methods that focus exclusively on bilateral cooperation are no longer relevant. A multilateral, cross-border system is needed to address the new threats in the region—issues about which all North African states are concerned, as reported on France24.com.

As reported in The Brookings Institute website: At the Greece- Turkey front, a new dispute has erupted Greece and Turkey have long been adversaries. Despite being NATO member countries, the two nations were at the centre of a flare-up last month. A Greek complaint that Turkey violated its airspace with fighter jets prompted an angry response from Ankara, which blamed Athens for provocative violations of its own airspace.

The current incident is part of The Aegean dispute, a series of interconnected conflicts between Greece and Turkey over territory, sovereignty, and related rights in the Aegean Sea. In the past 40 years, both countries have been on the brink of war.

Turkey’s foreign ministry responded to Greece’s remarks, saying there are six nautical miles (11km) of territorial waters in the Aegean Sea shared by the two countries, and Turkey cautioned Greece not to expand its territorial waters further. Hence the current conflict. An old maritime boundary dispute has resurfaced.

Old rivalries, new concepts

Old rivalries rarely disappear, but they can be managed effectively. Geopolitical tensions today are deeply rooted in the past and have their own dynamics, but countries must look to the future if they are to defend their borders and interests.

Conflicts such as those in Morocco and Algeria, Greece and Turkey may affect the entire world due to their potential to escalate. When a multilateral agreement is breached, both countries need to adopt new approaches to maintain stability and safety. A multidimensional and multi-layered approach to border security is required. When dealing with border conflicts such as the one occurring in Western Sahara, it is wise to consider flexible solutions that support close monitoring and control of cross-border movement and secure border crossings.

In the wake of the Aegean dispute, we see the need for integrated coastal and onboard maritime radars, C4I platforms, underwater detection systems, mobile surveillance sensors, and quick response maritime units that can secure maritime borders.

While history tends to repeat itself, there are lessons to be learned and measures to be taken.

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