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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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    26June 2015

    When it comes to counterinsurgencies, violence merely begets violence. So what exactly is needed to successfully tackle insurgents? And why is it that Arab governments and militaries have such a poor track record in this domain?

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    26June 2015

    With law enforcement agencies pooling resources to counter ISIL's online propaganda, this Alert seeks to raise awareness of the jihadists’ use of the so-called ‘Dark Web’, the hidden underbelly of the little explored Deep Web.

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    12June 2015

    At first sight, Arab parliaments seem to have reverted back to their pre-2011 role as empty shells, rubber-stamping the government’s decisions. This Alert, however, reveals a more nuanced state of affairs whereby Arab parliamentarians in some countries are – slowly – growing into their roles.

  • 22May 2015

    On 22 May, the Atlantic Council hosted the European Union Institute for Security Studies for the latter’s annual transatlantic conference in Washington DC.

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    17April 2015

    This Brief takes a look at the implosion of Yemen’s armed forces, and how this has exacerbated the already dire security situation in the country. It seeks to underline the complexity of the dynamics on the ground, proving that the causes of Yemen’s woes go beyond over-simplistic explanations based on sectarian antagonisms.

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    10April 2015

    It is now four decades since the outbreak of Lebanon’s civil war. But with similar conflicts spreading across the Middle East, the country’s tragic history can still provide useful lessons on how to end such violence.

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    20March 2015

    Algerian decision-making circles have come to the conclusion that the country is once again facing a protracted war with Islamist terrorism. But unlike the dark decade of the 1990’s, Algiers is now combating jihadists which operate across borders and threaten its entire neighbourhood.

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    27February 2015

    This Alert examines the effects of the country’s Political Isolation Law (PIL). Although part of a necessary process of political transition, does this ‘deqaddafication law’ go too far?

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    27February 2015

    Four years after the toppling of Qaddafi, Libya is perilously close to economic collapse. Growing political factionalism and the prevalence of security vacuums have facilitated the proliferation of armed militia groups, while the destruction of the country’s oil infrastructure poses a serious risk to any chance of future economic prosperity.

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    17February 2015

    This report, the outcome of a series of meetings of the Arab Foresight Group, an initiative undertaken by the EUISS, presents three alternative scenarios for the Arab world in 2025. These take into account those ‘megatrends’ which are unlikely to change, and outline three different ways in which policymakers can respond to the crises that currently beset the Middle East and North Africa.

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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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    24January 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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    19December 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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    18October 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?

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    02October 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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    02October 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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    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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