Gerasimos Gerasimos
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State–diaspora relations and regime security in North Africa
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This chapter identifies the trade-off that authoritarian states face between migration and security: on the one hand, they wish to reap the economic benefits associated with large emigrant populations; on the other hand, they also face the political need to maintain control of emigration flows, to monitor the movements of political dissenters, and to contain diasporas’ activism abroad. Authoritarian states’ diaspora policymaking can best be understood via the management of the trade-off between the political imperative to prevent emigration and the economic urge to embrace it. Algeria, Libya, Morocco, Tunisia, and Egypt demonstrate how states are torn between ‘controlling’ and ‘courting’ their diasporas residing in Europe and North America. Regime security considerations have led the first four states to develop intricate control mechanisms that aim to prevent political activism abroad and to minimise diasporic acts of dissent against the ruling regime of the sending-state. Conversely, Egypt’s diaspora policy has evolved more inclusively: while acts of repression are not unknown, the main tenets have revolved around the desire to engage their citizen diaspora groups into the country’s development ambitions. The chapter discusses these policies and employs the tenets of the illiberal paradox to shed light on the rationale behind this divergence.

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