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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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    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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    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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    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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    20 July 2012

    A crisis of legitimacy has struck Egypt as a trio of competing powers – the military, the Brotherhood, and so-called ‘third way’ liberals - vie for control of the country and its institutions. What can the West do, if anything, to avert the implosion of this fledgling democracy?

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    12 July 2012

    As many European governments introduce their biggest defence budget cuts in years, the impact on their collective military capabilities may be lessened by exploiting two directives designed to integrate the EU defence market.

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    13 June 2012

    With the presidential elections in Egypt underway, TAPIR Fellow Tova Norlén explores the process of democratic transition following the Arab Spring in a country where advocates of political Islam are currently locked in an electoral struggle with the military.

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    11 May 2012

    The EU must develop a better understanding of Israeli domestic political constraints and set itself clearer goals and objectives if it is to have real influence in the Middle East peace process.

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    02 April 2012

    The EU has responded to the Arab democratic wave by reinvigorating and re-launching the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) in the Mediterranean. But which multilateral approach should the EU develop under the new circumstances, if at all?

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    12 March 2012

    Written by the Director of the EUISS, Álvaro de Vasconcelos, this new book assesses how the Arab democratic wave is part of a wider shift towards a post-Western world in which the global agenda is no longer defined by the West alone and other ‘unfamiliar’ voices may be heard.

  • 07 March 2012

     Seldom has it been as justified to be pessimistic about developments between the United States, Israel, and Iran. This dysfunctional state of affairs is getting so out of hand that the danger of war is no longer just a remote possibility but instead looms large on the horizon. David Ignatius reported on Feb. 2 in Washington Post that "[Secretary of Defense Leon] Panetta believes there is a strong likelihood that Israel will strike Iran in April, May, or June," though he does not believe that the final decision has been taken yet. 

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    21 February 2012

    Israel is a more complicated country than meets the eye, with a disturbing increase in intra-Israeli religious tensions which Europeans sometimes fail to take into accoun

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