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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 gas),
  • and it has been historically 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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    24September 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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    06September 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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    05September 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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    01July 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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    01July 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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    01July 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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    24June 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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    24June 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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    17June 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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    03June 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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  • Palestinian reconciliation: a step towards peace and democracy
    05May 2011

    Hamas and Fatah's reconciliation is a crucial step towards peace and democracy. Without it, no agreement on the creation of a Palestinian state has any chance of success. The author explores why.

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    04May 2011

    To date, the Bahraini uprising has resulted in nothing but a return to martial law and the possible end of the participative experiment. This failure was predictable. At least three reasons can be put forward. First, the protestors were divided about the aim of the movement, so al-Wifaq’s attempts to engage in dialogue with the regime were sabotaged by the hard-liners of al-Haqq and al-Wafa. The main loser of the uprising is al-Wifaq, whose efforts to transform into a party that collaborates with the government have been nullified.

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    28April 2011

    The West needs to return to the drawing board over its dysfunctional relationship with Iran. The author argues that there is no convincing evidence of a link between the negative impact of sanctions on the Iranian economy and an inducement of popular discontent and a change in nuclear policy.

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    18April 2011

    The future in Libya is extremely hard to predict and that, too, has been the ultimate triumph of the Gaddafi regime. It ensured that there should be no potential alternative and the legacy it bequeathes to the country it saw as the ultimate political laboratory will be chaos and uncertainty.

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    14April 2011

    La situation politique et militaire en Libye préoccupe actuellement tous les observateurs pour des raisons diverses. Pour les voisins, à cause de leurs compatriotes coincés à l’intérieur de ce pays par une guerre fratricide, et aussi parce que c’est de l’avenir politique de la Libye que dépend en partie l’avenir de la construction démocratique chez eux.

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    08April 2011

    Le discours de Bachar Assad a déçu non seulement la population syrienne mais aussi et surtout tous ses « amis » sur la scène régionale et internationale. Pour certains, ce discours était une déclaration de guerre puisqu’il a insisté sur la théorie de la conspiration dont la Syrie ferait l’objet. Il a ainsi précisé, à la manière de Bush fils, que celui qui ne soutient pas le régime dans toutes ses politiques est incontestablement considéré comme son ennemi. L’ennemi de la politique du régime devient forcément l’ennemi de la nation. 

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    25March 2011

    The potential for things going badly in Yemen after Saleh’s departure is great. There are already many conflicts and problems there. In the South a strong movement has arisen in favor of restoring its independence. In the far north of the country, there has been armed rebellion by the Houthis. In addition, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has a strong presence in Yemen. Finally, the authority of the Yemeni government is weak outside the major cities where the tribes are well-armed.

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    01March 2011

    Popular uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt and the intensifying protests in Libya, Yemen and Bahrain have brought the issue of change in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) to the fore. While the foreign and security policies of the USA and the EU are being watched closely and calls are being made to review them, the co-existence of Islam with democracy in the Turkish example becomes highly relevant for the future.

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    01March 2011

    With uprisings in the Arab world continuing to spread, the EU needs a radical rethink of its policy in the region. The failed Union for the Mediterranean represents an opportunity to define a new objective: building a Euro-Mediterranean community.

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    22February 2011

    The Jasmine revolution in Tunisia and the popular uprising in Egypt have opened the way for these Arab countries to initiate their transitions to democracy. The burning question, however, is what sort of democracy will they be? The fear of power falling into the hands of political Islamists has been a recurrent theme of global commentary on these momentous events. Yet some experts have argued that there is the potential for a different, more positive outcome – pointing in particular to Turkey’s experience.

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