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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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    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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    19 December 2013

    This brief highlights the need for greater security sector reform (SSR) in the Arab world. But in a region where altering status quo often means overhauling the entire system of governance, how can the obstacles blocking the path to reform be overcome?

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    18 October 2013

    As the conflict in Syria rages on, this brief provides a succinct analysis of the causes and consequences of the longest, and bloodiest, of all forms of human conflict. Why do civil wars break out? And more importantly, how can they be brought to an end?

  • 03 October 2013

    On 3-4 October, almost 100 academics and policymakers from over 35 different countries gathered at the Annual EuroMeSCo conference to debate the state of affairs in the Arab world since 2011 as well as Euro-Mediterranean relations.

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    02 October 2013

    As the 40th anniversary of the Yom Kippur war approaches and talks between Israelis and Palestinians are set to resume, this alert revisits one of the defining and most intractable issues in the conflict: the status of the Palestinian refugees.

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    02 October 2013

    This alert argues that blaming the historic Sykes-Picot agreement for the current turmoil in Syria is orientalist at best and erroneous at worst. The authors contend that the Syrian state is being challenged primarily because of its inability to deliver economically and socially rather than because of its allegedly ‘artificial’ statehood or borders.

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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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    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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    03 June 2013

    Whilst Lebanon has long faced a multitude of challenges, the inability to agree on necessary electoral law reform has resulted in parliament extending its own term, further undermining the democratic process and leaving the country unable to adequately address the spillover of the crisis in neighbouring Syria.

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    22 May 2013

    On 7 May, Russia and the US agreed to host a conference with an aim to settling the Syrian crisis. This alert examines the agenda, participants and potential ourcomes of meeting that may well lead to the implementation of a credible and lasting ceasefire.

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    26 March 2013

    On 19 March 2013 a serious allegation was made concerning the use of chemical weapons near Aleppo. In this context, how could the EU play a role that would assist not only the potential victims of chemical attacks but also the process of eliminating all non-conventional weapons in the Middle East?

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    26 March 2013

    Two years after the revolution, the Tunisian transition is in dire need of new momentum. Bogged down in endless discussions about secularism and Islamist ideologies, the government needs to address the fundamental demands of ordinary Tunisians: democracy, economic dignity, and freedom.

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    19 March 2013

    Deux ans après les événements qui ont conduit à la chute du régime de Ben Ali, la crise sociale et gouvernementale actuelle amène à poser la question de l’irréversibilité de la révolution tunisienne. Quelles étaient ses demandes ? Quelles réformes substantielles le gouvernement doit-il encore mettre en œuvre pour garantir une rupture définitive avec le passé ?

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    30 October 2012

    In recent years, non-state actors (NSAs) have become an important part of the EU’s policy-making process regarding the conflict. This paper examines a group of actors that, although under-researched, play a significant role in the formulation and evolution of EU external policy.

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    18 October 2012

    With the tectonic shifts in the political landscape of the Middle East yet to settle, much still hangs in the balance. For Iran, this presents an opportunity to enhance its standing and gain new influence as countries such as Egypt make the transition towards a more democratic system of governance, which inevitably entails greater influence for Islamist groups and parties. The ruling elite in Iran was delighted when the Arab Spring increased the prominence of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, and even more so when Mohamed Morsi was elected president of Egypt earlier this year.

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