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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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  • 20April 2016

    Florence Gaub was invited to testify at the Subcommittee on Security and Defence.

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    15February 2016

    This Alert examines the adverse economic conditions which Egypt is facing: in addition to mounting political pressures in the form of protests and labour strikes, the risk of a currency crisis is running high. What has gone wrong since President Sisi came to power?

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    05February 2016

    The first EUISS Brief of 2016 looks at the newly created Saudi-led Islamic military alliance, and explains how its purpose is threefold: counter-balance Iranian influence in the region, restore Saudi Arabia’s somewhat tarnished Muslim reputation and create military synergies between signatories.

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    05February 2016

    Over the years, Saudi-Iranian relations have seen numerous ups and downs. This Brief tells the story of their rocky relationship in their own words, starting with the crowning of Saudi Arabia’s first king in 1924 and continuing up until today's latest developments.

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    29January 2016

    One common assumption has been that refugees are leaving camps in Jordan and Lebanon due to difficult conditions and moving on through Turkey into the EU. But because of the northward shift of the Syrian conflict, the reality is somewhat different.

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    29January 2016

    With the suspicion that two newly-registered refugees carried out the November Paris attacks, this Alert explores – and debunks – fears that refugee flows from the Middle East have become a backchannel for terrorists entering Europe.

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    17December 2015

    This Chaillot Paper charts the changes that have taken place in the countries and regions adjacent to the EU over the past two decades, and analyses how the upheavals of recent years have altered the EU’s relationship with and approach to its eastern and southern neighbours.

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    08December 2015

    There are around 5,000 EU citizens currently fighting for ISIL. How are they recruited? What is reality like for them under the rule of the so-called caliphate? And, perhaps most importantly, how and why do they return?

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    17November 2015

    Following the horrific attacks in Paris, this Alert shows how ISIL is, in fact, a cult: an authoritarian organisation which brainwashes its members to the point where mass murder and self-annihilation become not only logical, but desirable.

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    28October 2015

    The last in a mini-series of EUISS publications on hybrid warfare, the Alert assesses the tactics employed by terrorist groups in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) such as ISIL. How do they differ from those of state actors in other parts of the world?

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    17October 2014

    This Brief examines the many faces of modern Islamism. What are the main streams of political Islam? And how are they linked to both the Sunni/Shiite divide and the violence plaguing the Middle East and North Africa?

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    05September 2014

    Following a particularly bloody summer, this Alert explores the potential existence of a causal link between rising temperatures and aggressive behaviour in the Arab world. But can the heat alone explain the onset of conflict?

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    24July 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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    27June 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?

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    16May 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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    04April 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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    28March 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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    28March 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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    17March 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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    28February 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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  • 27September 2004

    The Institute organised this Conference in Paris to evaluate the potential implications of Turkish membership (or non-membership) for the EU’s security policy. Turkish officials and experts were also invited in order to engage in a common assessment of bilateral relations.

  • 03May 2004

    The purpose of this seminar was to analyse the current situation in the Middle East and to assess the various Western initiatives to deal with the region. How can the European Union and its member states support the ‘Greater Middle East Initiative’ of the US whilst reaffirming the commitment to their own initiatives.

  • 18September 2003

    The European Union Institute for Security Studies organised, in cooperation with the Italian Presidency of the Council of the European Union, a seminar for the PSC, which was held in Brussels on 18 September 2003.

  • 01September 2003

    With the current 'big bang' enlargement nearing its conclusion, it has become crucial to assess if and to what extent the European Union can and will widen further. The ISS devoted a seminar to this issue, with participants from both current and future member states.

  • 01January 2003

    The current Iraqi crisis led the Institute to convene urgently a meeting between experts and representatives to the Political and Security Committee. The purpose of the seminar was better to understand the depth and the historic nature of the crisis. The discussion was organised in three sessions: why Iraq is a divisive issue, what implications for CFSP/ESDP and the future of Europe, and what implications for transatlantic relations.

  • 25November 2002

    A transatlantic ‘brainstorming’ on Iraq brought together more than 40 officials and experts from both sides of the Atlantic. In the seminar, the options for tackling the Iraqi threat, from UNSC-sponsored inspections to military intervention, were considered. Special attention was paid to the difficulties of the aftermath of a war and occupation, and the implications for the transatlantic alliance and the Middle East region.

  • 20September 2002

    On 20 September 2002, the Institute organised a seminar to analyse the role of the European Union in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, especially since the outbreak of violence in autumn 2000.

  • 07June 2002

    The Madrid conference was organised in cooperation with the Real Instituto Elcano, under the aegis of the Spanish Presidency of the European Union.

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