Foreign Policy Blogs

Welcome to North Africa…a crossroads at a crossroads.



Many who follow or work in international affairs would hesitate to call themselves “North Africanists.”  But I bet you’d be surprised that you probably are.  North Africa, also referred to as the Maghreb (which literally means “the west” in Arabic), has long been a crossroads between civilizations.  From the extensive economic partnerships and deep historical ties with Europe, common cultural, religious and political identities with the Arab/Muslim world to its centuries old cooperation and shared struggles with sub-Saharan African neighbors—you can’t very easily avoid some connection with North Africa in your study, work or interest in international affairs.


So there.  You’ve had a foot in North Africa’s sands all this time and didn’t even realize it.


However, it’s this broad and multi-faceted reach which also causes many to overlook the region as a whole. So many are completely unaware of what is at stake in North Africa and, most importantly, how critical it is that we don’t ignore its festering problems or neglect to acknowledge demonstrated progress and exemplary reform. 


Let’s take a moment and look at some of the most critical questions concerning North Africa today:


What are US interests and who are our allies in the post-Cold War North Africa?


Is the US being proactive enough to combat the increasing threat of terrorism in the region, particularly the growing bravado of groups like Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM)?


How can the international community, particularly the US, work to resolve the Western Sahara conflict, which is in its third decade of obstructing vital, productive relations—on all fronts—between Morocco and Algeria?


When (and how) will Mauritania achieve and maintain a stable democracy and consistent leadership?


Will Libya’s “rebranding” campaign, led by the one and only Colonel Muammar al-Gaddafi, be met with cynicism or cooperation by its neighbors and the international community?


At what point will civil society in Tunisia decide that political oppression and a lack of true, open reform is too high a price to pay for economic prosperity?


What role can North African countries play between its Middle East and Western partners to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?


What are North African countries doing to help meet the enormous humanitarian, political and economic challenges of their sub-Saharan African neighbors?


So, North Africa not only is a crossroads, but it stands at a critical one.  I look forward to this opportunity to spark discussion about issues and topics in a region that affects us all, we “North Africanists,” in more ways than we realize.



















Calvin Dark

Calvin Dark is an international policy and strategic communications professional based in Washington, DC. For more than 10 years, he has advised US and international bodies and organizations, primarily focusing on political, economic and cultural relations with Latin America, Western Europe and the Middle East and North Africa. Calvin is also a social media enthusiast trying to connect the world one tweet, post and #hashtag at a time.

Calvin was a Fulbright Scholar to Morocco where he conducted research on civil society’s role in increasing transparency and public confidence in Morocco’s government institutions and services. Calvin received his Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and French from Duke University and has studied abroad in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and Paris, France. He speaks French, Spanish, Arabic and English (North Carolina’s special dialect.)

Calvin is also passionate about Southern storytelling and oral histories and is the author of Tales From My Dark Side [], a collection of stories about the Darks, a central North Carolina family and their unique ways of reconciling the complex notions of race, community and family.

Anything else? Oh yea, he loves to spin and is a spin instructor.

Contact Calvin at [email protected]