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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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    03June 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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    22May 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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    26March 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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    26March 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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    19March 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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    30October 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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    18October 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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    20July 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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    12July 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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    13June 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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    16February 2011

    It is easy to see why EU foreign policy comes down to its lowest common denominator when disagreements arise, or why in fact it takes longer to react than any of its constituents. Negotiations and bargaining are the necessary prelude to any agreement, and can sometimes be long and cumbersome.

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    15February 2011

    A major change is sweeping through the Arab world, moving from country to country. While national differences remain vast, the same slogans and demands are being heard everywhere: more freedom, more democracy and more individual rights for the citizens. Without knowing where it will end and what the Arab world will look like in the future, it is already time to ask what it means for Europe, and to Europe’s relations with the region.

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    15February 2011

    At present, there is an explosive lack of consensus within the EU about dealing with irregular migration from North Africa and the Middle East. With southern member states like Italy already experiencing increased irregular immigration, there has been a predictable sharpening of tone in many capitals. The imperative of restrictive immigration control has risen swiftly up the European agenda. At the same time, however, there has been a surprising openness toward liberalising EU migration policy.

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    10February 2011

    Les événements qui viennent de se produire en Tunisie, puis en Égypte, avec leurs spécificités, font apparaître, de manière indubitable, un phénomène lourd de conséquences : la sous-estimation de l’autonomie du peuple.

    Durant des décennies, on a peu à peu fait disparaître une réflexion sérieuse sur la réalité de ce qu’étaient les peuples du monde arabe en leur substituant une vision caricaturale et réductrice.

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    09February 2011

    La « Révolution du jasmin » en Tunisie, les événements en cours en Égypte et les manifestations prévues ici et là dans plusieurs pays arabes semblent indiquer qu’une nouvelle réalité est en train de se dessiner, dans ce qui semblait à tort comme l’exception démocratique dans le monde.

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    07February 2011

    Much has been said about the EU’s response to the uprisings in North Africa. Much has been and will continue to be said on how the EU should radically change its approach to this region. But beyond the criticism, little has been said about how the new foreign policy structures set up by the Lisbon Treaty have met this challenging task.

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    07February 2011

    Qui avait prévu un tel chambardement? Qui osait espérer, il y a à peine trois mois, que le peuple tunisien était capable de déboulonner le régime honni, dont on vantait, en Europe et ailleurs, la stabilité et la solidité ? Même ceux, qui ne sont pourtant pas néophytes en matière de politique arabe, ont été pris au dépourvu, ébahis par la tournure des événements, étonnés par la rapidité de la victoire du peuple tunisien, et sidérés par la maturité dont il a fait preuve.

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    24January 2011

    The crisis in Tunisia is at the end of its heroic phase: the corrupt presidency has been overthrown by a revolutionary popular uprising and the nihilistic violence of its paramilitary base in the presidential guard and the police has been countered by the intervention of the Tunisian army.  

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    18January 2011

    The recent popular uprising in Tunisia has questioned the EU's policy of supporting the status quo in the South Mediterranean. Europe should back the democratic transition in the country, while a new impetus should be given to the Union's neighbourhood policy.

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    06January 2011

    Le rideau est tombé sur les élections législatives égyptiennes, considérées par les observateurs comme l’une des pires élections en Égypte depuis le retour du « pluralisme contrôlé » en 1967. Parmi les sept scrutins (1979, 1984, 1987, 1990, 1995, 2000 et 2005), le pire fut celui de 1995, marqué par l’absence de supervision judiciaire, laquelle était connue pour son intégrité et sa relative indépendance vis-à-vis du pouvoir exécutif.

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