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MENA

The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) is a fragmented region: in spite of its relative cultural and historical homogeneity, it has some of the lowest levels of intra-regional trade, political cooperation and legal migration in the world. This is largely due to the fact that, since the end of the Second World War, it has experienced the full spectrum of political violence. Conventional, hybrid, and civil wars, revolutions, and terrorism have hindered political and economic development, and created fertile ground for further violence. Breaking this ‘conflict trap’ is imperative for the states of the region, as well as those actors who have a stake in it.

For the EU, the MENA is of strategic importance for three reasons: it is an immediate geographic neighbour, a crucial passage for goods traveling to and from Europe (including oil), and it is notoriously unstable. The region’s security and economic situation is consequently closely intertwined with that of Europe. This explains the Union’s desire to contribute to regional stability through different means such as the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP), the Barcelona Process and the Union for the Mediterranean. The EUISS seeks to contribute to the EU’s overall effort in the MENA by providing in-depth analyses on a number of key issues affecting the region.

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    24 July 2014

    How do states transit to democracy, and why does it seem such a difficult endeavour in the Arab world? This brief explains the conditions required for democratic transitions to succeed, and highlights the many pitfalls that cause states to revert to authoritarianism.

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    27 June 2014

    As Islamic extremists continue their advance across Iraq, this Brief takes stock of terrorism-related developments in the Middle East and North Africa. What factors explain the escalation in terror attacks? And what steps – legal or otherwise – are governments taking to counter the ‘jihadi highway’ that now spans the region?

  • 20 May 2014

    The annual transatlantic event of the EUISS – organised this year in collaboration with the Middle East Institute – brought together over 100 participants from both sides of the Atlantic to debate current pressing issues in the MENA region.

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    16 May 2014

    Exploring the effects of the high levels of military spending in the Arab world, this Alert seeks to underline the importance of the security-development nexus. What can military expenditure tell us about the likelihood of both intra- and inter-state conflict breaking out?

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    04 April 2014

    This alert assesses the presidential ambitions of Michel Aoun, and explores the various scenarios that may play out in Lebanon given its history of electing presidents with a military background.

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    28 March 2014

    In the wake of the diplomatic spat between Qatar and its Gulf neighbours, this Alert seeks out explanations for the highly active (and seemingly inconsistent) foreign policy of the energy-rich kingdom. As it shows, every single diplomatic act undertaken by Doha appears to feed into one overarching narrative: pan-Arabism.

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    28 March 2014

    This Alert assesses Iran’s strategic aims in Afghanistan, highlighting how – despite Tehran’s primary goal of achieving stability in the country based on economic development – Iran often acts as a spoiler in the pursuit of protecting its own security interests in its immediate neighbourhood.

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    17 March 2014

    In the wake of the Arab Spring, this Chaillot Paper examines the role played by the different national armies in the Arab world, and their long history of involvement in matters beyond the military realm. As this study shows, the Arab Spring has marked a watershed in how Arab military forces are perceived: one way or the other, they have once again become the political actors they were prior to the 1970s.

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    28 February 2014

    Egypt’s busy week began with the resignation of its government and ended with a further step in the empowerment of Field Marshal al-Sisi, now formally the head of the Supreme Council of Armed Forces. But should al-Sisi become president, how will the Egyptian military position itself?

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    24 January 2014

    The first in a series of alerts scanning what key political events are on the horizon in 2014, this alert highlights the challenges facing the Middle East and North Africa.

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    24 September 2013

    Analysing recent unexpected developments in the international reaction to the chemical weapons attacks in Syria, this brief examines how the new emphasis on disarmament may actually open up the prospect of a negotiated end to the conflict.

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    06 September 2013

    In the wake of the chemical attacks that occurred on 21 August in Syria, and the ensuing international outcry, this alert highlights the dangers of instrumentalising chemical warfare allegations in pursuit of other policy goals.

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    05 September 2013

    With the G20 summit underway, this alert explores the reasons for continued Russian intransigence on Syria. If support of the Assad regime is not simply designed to irk the West, what other, deeper considerations are at play in this unlikely partnership?

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    01 July 2013

    Following negotiations that lasted over a decade, on Friday 28 June, the Trans-Adriatic pipeline (TAP) was chosen over Nabucco West to transport Azeri gas to the European markets. In light of the on-going debate on energy security, this alert explores the motivations behind the decision and its implications for the EU.

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    01 July 2013

    The 23rd EU-GCC ministerial meeting held on 30 June in Bahrain served as a reminder of the - seemingly forgotten - on-going internal crisis of the host country. This alert draws attention to how Bahrain remains paralysed by ongoing protests due to the lack of reform and, worse still, continues to contribute to the exacerbation of Shia/Sunni tensions within the region.

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    01 July 2013

    After 23 years of punitive measures put in place under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter, Iraq has finally cleared the way to end its pariah status in the international system. Although tensions remain with neighbouring Kuwait over a variety of outstanding issues, as this alert proves, a painful chapter in Iraq’s history has nevertheless been closed.

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    24 June 2013

    With the security situation in Libya rapidly spiralling out of control, this brief analyses the challenges faced by the country in its attempts to establish an effective internal security apparatus since the fall of Qaddafi, the dangers of the current security vacuum and the difficulties in disbanding and reintegrating the plethora of powerful militia groups.

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    24 June 2013

    In recognition of a centenary of Arabism, this alert explores the historical notions of a political union between Arab states and demonstrates, despite the geopolitical antagonisms of the MENA region and the rise of Islamism, that this unifying force is not yet dead.

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    17 June 2013

    The election of Hassan Rouhani has confirmed the vibrancy and necessity of the electoral process in Iran. But if the new president-elect is to now embark on a course correction of Iranian politics, he will have to contend with formidable and complicated elements within the state structure: the security establishment, a parliament dominated by various conservative factions, and the supreme leader himself.

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    03 June 2013

    This brief explores the presidential campaign underway in Iran, examining the chosen candidates and the internal power struggles of a divided country and highlighting how the tight control of the electoral process is posing a serious challenge the regime’s own commitment to the notion of popular sovereignty.

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