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The EU and Middle East and North Africa [What Think Tanks are thinking]

08-03-2019

The European Union held its first ever summit with the Arab League in February, highlighting the growing importance of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) in tackling problems such as security, terrorism, migration and energy supply. At their meeting in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, more than 40 leaders from the two blocs discussed issues ranging from ways to fight poverty and reducing irregular migration to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, instability in Libya and wars in Syria and ...

The European Union held its first ever summit with the Arab League in February, highlighting the growing importance of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) in tackling problems such as security, terrorism, migration and energy supply. At their meeting in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, more than 40 leaders from the two blocs discussed issues ranging from ways to fight poverty and reducing irregular migration to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, instability in Libya and wars in Syria and Yemen. The summit's declaration called for stronger economic and political cooperation as well as efforts to support the multilateral, rules-based international order. This note offers links to recent commentaries and reports by major international think tanks on the general problems found within the region and some specific countries. More reports on the region can be found in a previous edition of 'What Think Tanks are Thinking' published in October 2017. The issue of Iran will be discussed in one of the forthcoming issues of the series.

EU efforts on counter-terrorism - Capacity-building in third countries

19-12-2017

In the European Union (EU), responsibility for counter-terrorism lies primarily with Member States. However, the role of the EU itself in counter-terrorism has grown significantly in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks that have hit Europe in the post-'9/11' era. The cross-border aspects of the terrorist threat call for a coordinated EU approach. Moreover, the assumption that there is a connection between development and stability, as well as internal and external security, has come to shape the ...

In the European Union (EU), responsibility for counter-terrorism lies primarily with Member States. However, the role of the EU itself in counter-terrorism has grown significantly in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks that have hit Europe in the post-'9/11' era. The cross-border aspects of the terrorist threat call for a coordinated EU approach. Moreover, the assumption that there is a connection between development and stability, as well as internal and external security, has come to shape the EU's actions beyond its own borders. In the context of terrorism, the EU has an extensive toolkit of human and financial resources that support third countries in managing or mitigating terrorist threats. A key element of EU action is capacity-building in partner countries, to ensure local ownership, a sustainable assistance model and the full use of local expertise for challenges that are geographically distinct. The EU's external capacity-building efforts in counter-terrorism include security sector reform (SSR)-associated measures, such as strengthening the rule of law, improving the governance of security providers, improving border management, reforming the armed forces, and training law enforcement actors. As part of the EU's multifaceted assistance, efforts to curb terrorist funding and improve strategic communications to counter radicalisation and violent extremism complement SSR-related activities. Soft-power projects funded through the Commission's different funding instruments, coupled with both military and civilian common security and defence policy missions provide the framework through which the EU tries to address both the root causes and the symptoms of terrorism and radicalisation.

US recognition of Jerusalem as capital of Israel

11-12-2017

On 6 December 2017, US President Donald Trump recognised Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, mirroring the official Israeli position on the status of the city. In doing so, the US has become the first country to officially endorse the Israeli position on a hotly disputed issue that lies at the very heart of the Middle East Peace Process (MEPP), potentially weakening the role of the US in that process as an impartial mediator and tilting the odds further in Israel’s favour. The move has been widely ...

On 6 December 2017, US President Donald Trump recognised Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, mirroring the official Israeli position on the status of the city. In doing so, the US has become the first country to officially endorse the Israeli position on a hotly disputed issue that lies at the very heart of the Middle East Peace Process (MEPP), potentially weakening the role of the US in that process as an impartial mediator and tilting the odds further in Israel’s favour. The move has been widely condemned as a violation of international law and a political provocation. However, it leaves open the possibility to address the status of the city as part of a comprehensive peace deal between Israelis and Palestinians.

Iraqi Kurdistan's independence referendum

11-10-2017

On 25 September 2017, the government of the autonomous Region of Kurdistan in Iraq, under its president, Masoud Barzani, organised a referendum on independence, disregarding calls by the Iraqi central government and the international community to postpone it. The referendum was held in the Kurdistan Region's constituencies and also in the neighbouring 'disputed' territories, in particular the oil-rich area of Kirkuk, which have de facto if not legally been governed by the Kurdish authorities since ...

On 25 September 2017, the government of the autonomous Region of Kurdistan in Iraq, under its president, Masoud Barzani, organised a referendum on independence, disregarding calls by the Iraqi central government and the international community to postpone it. The referendum was held in the Kurdistan Region's constituencies and also in the neighbouring 'disputed' territories, in particular the oil-rich area of Kirkuk, which have de facto if not legally been governed by the Kurdish authorities since the moment they were recaptured from ISIL/Da'esh. Even though the 'yes' side has won, it is by no means certain that a Kurdish state will emerge in the near future. Such a state would be weakened by internal divisions and poor economic conditions. In addition, Syria, Turkey and Iran strongly condemned the referendum and have taken retaliatory action. Among other considerations, they are worried that an independent Kurdish state would encourage their own Kurdish populations to seek greater autonomy. However, the prospect of a Greater Kurdistan is remote, since the regional Kurdish landscape is dominated by the PKK (Kurdistan Workers' Party) and its affiliate parties, which do not share the Iraqi Kurdish leaders' ideology or strategic alliances. Concerned by the fragmentation of the Middle East, the EU, the USA, Russia, and most of the region's powers other than Israel, disapproved of the referendum, which took place in the context of the ongoing fight against ISIL/Da'esh, and called for negotiations within the existing Iraqi borders. This briefing updates Regional implications of Iraqi Kurdistan's quest for independence, EPRS, December 2016.

The EU, Middle East and North Africa [What Think Tanks are thinking]

06-10-2017

Developments in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) pose a growing challenge for the European Union. Many countries in the region face war, political turmoil and popular anger, due to the impact of poverty in generating instability, migration and, in some cases, terrorism. The EU wants to contribute to stability in MENA through instruments such as the European Neighbourhood Policy and the Union for the Mediterranean, but there are calls for the EU to play an even more active role in the region ...

Developments in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) pose a growing challenge for the European Union. Many countries in the region face war, political turmoil and popular anger, due to the impact of poverty in generating instability, migration and, in some cases, terrorism. The EU wants to contribute to stability in MENA through instruments such as the European Neighbourhood Policy and the Union for the Mediterranean, but there are calls for the EU to play an even more active role in the region. This note offers links to recent commentaries and reports by major international think tanks on EU-MENA relations and the general problems found within the region and some specific countries.

The EU and terrorism [What Think Tanks are thinking]

02-06-2017

Terrorist attacks in major cities – notably in Paris, Nice, Brussels, Berlin and, most recently, Manchester – have shocked Europeans, highlighting the security challenges for open democracies that result, inter alia, from conflicts in the Middle East and Africa and religious radicalisation at home. In response, the European Union is pushing ahead with its Security Union concept to boost cooperation among Member States and use synergies in combatting terrorism. This note offers links to recent commentaries ...

Terrorist attacks in major cities – notably in Paris, Nice, Brussels, Berlin and, most recently, Manchester – have shocked Europeans, highlighting the security challenges for open democracies that result, inter alia, from conflicts in the Middle East and Africa and religious radicalisation at home. In response, the European Union is pushing ahead with its Security Union concept to boost cooperation among Member States and use synergies in combatting terrorism. This note offers links to recent commentaries and reports from major international think tanks on terrorism in Europe and the EU's response to it.

China's policy on the Middle East

20-10-2016

Four of the five UN Security Council (UNSC) permanent members have, to varying degrees, taken military action in the Syrian civil war. Dissatisfied with the outcome of the UN-mandated military intervention in Libya, China has not, although some of its arms deliveries to the region may have found their way to parties to the conflict. President Xi Jinping's January 2016 visit to the Middle East, in the wake of the easing of UN sanctions against Iran and the release of China's first-ever Arab policy ...

Four of the five UN Security Council (UNSC) permanent members have, to varying degrees, taken military action in the Syrian civil war. Dissatisfied with the outcome of the UN-mandated military intervention in Libya, China has not, although some of its arms deliveries to the region may have found their way to parties to the conflict. President Xi Jinping's January 2016 visit to the Middle East, in the wake of the easing of UN sanctions against Iran and the release of China's first-ever Arab policy paper, was primarily aimed at anchoring the One Belt, One Road initiative in the region as an alternative strategy focused on economic development, as a means to generate stability.

The EU's global role [What Think Tanks are thinking]

07-10-2016

As foreseen in the European Union's updated global strategy, the Union aims to play a stronger role in international affairs and conflict resolution, to reinforce a rules-based global order in an increasingly complex world and to better coordinate internal and external actions to bolster security and defence. The document, entitled "Shared Vision, Common Action: A Stronger Europe", was presented in June by Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy ...

As foreseen in the European Union's updated global strategy, the Union aims to play a stronger role in international affairs and conflict resolution, to reinforce a rules-based global order in an increasingly complex world and to better coordinate internal and external actions to bolster security and defence. The document, entitled "Shared Vision, Common Action: A Stronger Europe", was presented in June by Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission. It seeks to make the Union more "credible, responsive and joined-up." Faced with growing instability in its neighbourhood and internal crises, the strategy envisages boosting EU efforts on defence, cyber-security, counter-terrorism, energy security and strategic communications.  This note offers links to recent commentaries and studies from major international think on the EU's global strategy and related issues. More papers on the same topic can be found in a previous edition of 'What Think Tanks are thinking', published in May.

Global Trendometer

06-10-2016

With the publication of this inaugural edition of the "Global Trendometer," the EPRS Global Trends Unit seeks to contribute to the process of identifying and addressing medium- and long-term trends, and their possible implications for policy-making in the European Union. Three essays and eight two-page vignettes on different geopolitical, economic, technological and social issues paint a broad-ranging picture of developments that may shape Europe’s future.  

With the publication of this inaugural edition of the "Global Trendometer," the EPRS Global Trends Unit seeks to contribute to the process of identifying and addressing medium- and long-term trends, and their possible implications for policy-making in the European Union. Three essays and eight two-page vignettes on different geopolitical, economic, technological and social issues paint a broad-ranging picture of developments that may shape Europe’s future.  

Building resilience with the EU's southern neighbourhood

14-06-2016

It is a major concern for the European Union that most of its neighbourhood is marked by instability: the 10 countries in the southern neighbourhood are all either involved in internal conflict or threatened by terrorism, or both. The migration phenomenon complicates matters still further. A new strategic approach is required. The political and economic forces that produce instability need to be tackled. The new European Neighbourhood Policy reflects this reality and might complement the revised ...

It is a major concern for the European Union that most of its neighbourhood is marked by instability: the 10 countries in the southern neighbourhood are all either involved in internal conflict or threatened by terrorism, or both. The migration phenomenon complicates matters still further. A new strategic approach is required. The political and economic forces that produce instability need to be tackled. The new European Neighbourhood Policy reflects this reality and might complement the revised EU security strategy.

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