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  • Author: Ehud Eiran
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: Israel is still holding to its traditional security maxim. Based on a perception of a hostile region, Israel’s response includes early warning, deterrence and swift – including pre-emptive – military action, coupled with an alliance with a global power, the US. Israel is adjusting these maxims to a changing reality. Overlapping interests – and perhaps the prospect of an even more open conflict with Iran – led to limited relationships between Israel and some Gulf states. These, however, will be constrained until Israel makes progress on the Palestine issue. Israel aligned with Greece and Cyprus around energy and security, which may lead to conflict with Turkey. Russia’s deployment in Syria placed new constraints on Israeli freedom of action there. The US’s retrenchment from the Middle East is not having a direct effect on Israel, while the Trump administration’s support for Israel’s territorial designs in the West Bank may make it easier for Israel to permanently expand there, thus sowing the seeds for future instability in Israel/Palestine. The EU could try and balance against such developments, but, as seen from Israel, is too divided to have a significant impact. Paper produced in the framework of the FEPS-IAI project “Fostering a New Security Architecture in the Middle East”, April 2020.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Defense Policy, Gas, Hezbollah
  • Political Geography: Russia, Iran, Middle East, Israel, Greece, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Cyprus, United States of America, Mediterranean
  • Author: Karim Makdisi
  • Publication Date: 12-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: This paper asserts that the Arab–Israeli conflict, and in particular the question of Palestine, has been the major issue of regional concern across the Middle East for over a century. It claims that the failure to resolve the question of Palestine will continue to impact on the region’s stability and its geopolitical dynamics and to shape popular opinion while limiting Arab leaders’ options. It first situates the Arab–Israeli conflict as a core regional issue in historical context – which is crucial for understanding where we are today – before critically reviewing the Oslo “peace process” and its failure to deliver a just and sustainable peace within the framework of a “two-state solution”. It suggests that this failure has resulted in the ramping up of lingering regional problems (e.g. southern Lebanon, the Golan Heights, refugees and in Palestine itself) and the rise of new challenges and frameworks (e.g. the Resistance Axis and the BDS movement). It concludes that the time has come for the international community – including the European Union, which has contributed to the failure of the two-state solution – to consider alternative paradigms and actions.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Refugees, Syrian War, Negotiation, Peace
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, Syria
  • Author: Robin Mills
  • Publication Date: 12-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: Despite its dominance as the world’s key exporting region of hydrocarbons, energy connectivity within the Middle East, in the form of cross-border oil and gas pipelines, electricity grids and related institutions, is lagging. There has been limited progress in the Eastern Mediterranean area and with Turkey. But so far unfavourable commercial conditions, persisting subsidies, and regional political suspicions and disputes, have hampered progress. Key changes in the world energy market – a period of lower oil prices, with the expansion of US shale production, the globalisation of natural gas trade, the rise of renewable energy, and growing action on climate change – should encourage more intra-regional links. To realise the prize of 25 billion to more than 100 billion US dollars of savings available from greater energy trade, regional states will have to liberalise energy markets, establish multilateral institutional frameworks, and make the most of support from international energy corporations and influential political players, notably the US, China, EU and Russia. Paper prepared in the framework of the IAI-Eni Strategic Partnership, December 2018.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Energy Policy, International Trade and Finance, Natural Resources, Regional Integration
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Gulf Nations
  • Author: Cornelius Adebahr
  • Publication Date: 12-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: Europe and Iran had begun to invest in a closer commercial relationship just when the United States withdrew from the nuclear deal in May 2018. Since then, Washington has re-imposed its stringent economic sanctions, targeting Iran’s oil exports as a major source of government revenue but also banning financial transactions with the country. This poses an enormous challenge for the EU, which had intended to use the 2015 agreement as a stepping stone to promote regional cooperation and, ultimately, a more comprehensive relationship with Iran. Paper produced in the framework of the IAI-FEPS project entitled “Europe and Iran in a fast-changing Middle East: Confidence-building measures, security dialogue and regional cooperation”, December 2018.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, International Trade and Finance, Bilateral Relations, Sanctions, Transatlantic Relations
  • Political Geography: Europe, Iran, Middle East, North America, United States of America, European Union
  • Author: Karim Makdisi
  • Publication Date: 12-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: Refugee movements are not a new phenomenon in the Middle East and North Africa. The history of the region has been shaped by waves of displacement and refugee crises, and the most recent, the dramatic case of Syria, is still in process. This paper investigates refugee movements in the region and their impact on regional dynamics by focusing on two important case studies: Lebanon and Turkey. It explores each country’s response to the Syrian refugee crisis in detail, while addressing the role of relevant stakeholders, such as international organizations, civil society and government, in humanitarian relief efforts as well as in refugee protection and management.
  • Topic: Humanitarian Aid, Migration, Refugees, Syrian War, Mobility
  • Political Geography: Europe, Turkey, Middle East, Lebanon, Syria, European Union
  • Author: Paola Sartori, Alessandra Scalia
  • Publication Date: 05-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: The research that forms the basis of this study aims to address women’s roles within peace operations, as well as their contribution to security and peace-building. Based on Italy’s contribution to the NATO-led missions – the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and, currently, Resolute Support (RS) – the subject of the analysis is Afghanistan, and particularly Herat Province. The research e ort is speci cally aimed at assessing the impact of the civil–military cooperation (CIMIC) initiatives implemented by Italian troops in Herat, with a speci c focus on gender and Afghan women. The rst part of this paper addresses the theoretical framework on women’s participation in stabilization and reconstruction e orts. It introduces concepts such as gender analysis and gender mainstreaming, and, consequently, the bene ts of focusing on gender when carrying out CIMIC initiatives within peace operations. The second part focuses on the CIMIC activities implemented by the Italian contingent in Herat Province. The concluding section of the paper provides some “food for thought”, aimed at contributing to further enhancing the e ectiveness of the CIMIC projects carried out by the Italian military and their related e ects.
  • Topic: Gender Issues, International Security
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Daniela Huber, Lorenzo Kamel
  • Publication Date: 01-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: The "battleground" of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is shifting from its local context, where it has been placed in the Oslo, Intifada and Roadmap/Quartet periods, to its original dimension: the international arena. While it is indeed unclear if a multilateral approach will fare well, it is a fact that the unilateral/bilateral approach has failed. Having reached the end of the Middle East Peace Process as we have known it for the past decades, it is about time to be open-minded about realistic alternatives. This paper analyses these potential scenarios, the roles played by the main local and international actors, and outlines how a EU multilateral initiative should look like.
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine
  • Author: Sarah Wolff
  • Publication Date: 10-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: The death of Aylan, a 3-year-old boy on a Turkish beach, prompted European leaders and public opinions to acknowledge that Europe is the deadliest migration destination in the world. In spite of this disturbing truth, there is little agreement on an EU solution to the Syrian refugee crisis. In September 2015, the EU Interior Ministers struggled to agree over the relocation of 120,000 refugees through a common compulsory mechanism, as Eastern European countries oppose the idea of “sharing the burden.” Progress regarding other solutions such as a European rescue at-sea-mission, the delivery of humanitarian visas or the opening of legal means of migration have also met strong member state resistance. If Europe is not up to the task, can international organisations (IOs), often critical of European states for their inaction, impulse change? What influence do IOs have on EU and Mediterranean migration and refugee policies? This paper investigates how IOs have been trying to frame an alternative debate and the challenges they meet in promoting transregional governance.
  • Topic: Humanitarian Aid, Migration, War, Immigration, Border Control
  • Political Geography: Europe, Middle East
  • Publication Identifier: 978-88-98650-66-8
  • Publication Identifier Type: DOI
  • Author: Maria Giulia Amadio Viceré
  • Publication Date: 09-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: Under certain conditions, such as security crises, an integrated external EU counter-terrorism policy can emerge without leading to the supra-nationalisation of policy-making. This paper analyses the role of the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy with the objective of assessing the influence that such figure can have on the governance of EU counter-terrorism policies. It does so by assessing the EU’s response to three security crises, namely: the 9/11 attacks and the subsequent bombings in Madrid (2004) and London (2005); the Arab Spring and the following destabilisation of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA); and the emergence and spread of Da’esh.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Terrorism, Counterinsurgency, European Union
  • Political Geography: Europe, Middle East
  • Publication Identifier: 978-88-98650-53-8
  • Publication Identifier Type: DOI
  • Author: Kristina Kausch
  • Publication Date: 09-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: The Middle Eastern and North African region is in flux, while attempts to identify a new dominant structural logic have been limited so far. For the time being, the new “order” appears to consist of the absence of any one clear-cut organising principle and in overlapping, dynamic, often contradictory geopolitical developments. Among many other features, the geopolitical equation in the Middle East is being altered by a number of larger structural shifts regarding the position and relative weight of specific actors. Notable instances include the relative loss of influence of the United states and Europe; the game-changing regional roles of Russia and China, respectively; the resurgence of the IranianSaudi rivalry; the emergence of a number of regional “swing states”; and the increasing role of non-state actors in shaping regional developments. the complexity of this outlook makes policy choices by regional and external actors ever more difficult.
  • Topic: Non State Actors
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Middle East, North Africa
  • Author: Fatih Özgür Yeni
  • Publication Date: 11-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: Energy security is one of the hot topics on the European energy agenda. The EU's Southern Energy Corridor initiative is an attempt to reduce dependence on Russian supplies by tapping into Caspian and Middle-Eastern natural gas resources. Turkey, who aspires to be a regional energy hub, has emerged as the key country in the Southern Corridor. Although the TAP project in its current state satisfies neither Turkey's energy hub ambitions nor the EU's resource diversification efforts, it may serve as the first building block of the Southern Corridor. There are promising developments in the region that can increase volumes and add new routes to the initiative. Private companies have already shown their interest in developing a pipeline infrastructure for possible South-East Mediterranean and Northern Iraq natural gas exports but complex geopolitical issues pose the greatest threat to the way ahead. Thanks to its unique location, Turkey is destined to be one of the key players in the Southern Corridor. The convergence of Turkey's energy hub ambitions and the EU's energy security objectives present mutual gains, but also demand sustained collaboration between the two in light of several technical, legal and political hurdles.
  • Topic: Security, Energy Policy, Natural Resources, Infrastructure
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: Charles-Brian Biondi
  • Publication Date: 10-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: Since the beginning of the conflict, Syria has been the playground for several actors, such as Qatar, Saudi Arabia or Iran, defending their domestic interests or fighting for regional influence. The conflict entered a new phase in June 2013 with the direct involvement of Hezbollah, which sent troops to help al-Assad's regime fighting the armed insurrection. This event has had significant repercussions not only for the Syrian conflict itself but also for Lebanon. The aim of this paper is to shed light on the reasons that have led Hezbollah to engage openly in the Syrian conflict and what the consequences of such a decision could be, both for the country's and the party's future. The author argues that the party's involvement in the conflict is primarily a primordial necessity as the current Syrian regime is one of Hezbollah's strongest allies in the region without being a vital one. Thus the loss of the Syrian regime has the potential to pose new difficulties to the movement but would not necessarily imply its destruction.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Intelligence, Sectarian violence
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, Arabia, Saudi Arabia, Syria
  • Author: Ebru Oğurlu
  • Publication Date: 03-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: Over the last few years, the Eastern Mediterranean has been increasingly fraught with growing competition between regional players, most notably Turkey, Cyprus, and Israel, signalling an apparent return of power politics in regional relations. Of all actors involved, Turkey stands out for being both an ever more influential power and a source of serious concern to other countries in the region due to its greater assertiveness and perceived hegemonic ambitions. Against the backdrop of recent regional developments and their international implications, including the dispute over drilling rights off Cyprus' coasts, Turkey's image as a constructive and dialogue-oriented country, a critical achievement pursued by a generation of Turkish politicians, diplomats and officials, risks being replaced by one of an antagonistic/assertive power. Facing the first serious challenge to its claim to embody a benign model as a secular Muslim democracy and a responsible international actor, Turkey should not indulge in emotional reactions. It should opt instead for a more moderate and balanced approach based on the assumption that only cooperation and constructive dialogue, even with rival countries, can help it realize its ambition of being the regional pivot.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Democratization, Development, Islam, Power Politics
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Middle East, Israel, Greece, Asia, Colombia, Cyprus
  • Author: Andrea Dessì
  • Publication Date: 05-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: While spared from internal turmoil, Israel and the Palestinian Territories have nonetheless been affected by the region's political transformation brought about by the Arab Spring. Reflecting what can be described as Israel's “bunker” mentality, the Israeli government has characterized the Arab revolutionary wave as a security challenge, notably given its concern about the rise of Islamist forces. Prime Minister Netanyahu has capitalized on this sense of insecurity to justify his government's lack of significant action when it comes to the peace process. On the Palestinian side, both Hamas and Fatah have lost long-standing regional backers in Egypt and Syria and have had to contend with their increasingly shaky popular legitimacy. This has spurred renewed efforts for reconciliation, which however have so far produced no significant results. Against this backdrop, the chances for a resumption of serious Israeli-Palestinian peace talks appear increasingly dim. An effort by the international community is needed to break the current deadlock and establish an atmosphere more conducive for talks. In this context, the EU carries special responsibility as the only external actor that still enjoys some credibility as a balanced mediator between the sides.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Political Violence, Treaties and Agreements, Territorial Disputes
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Arabia, Syria, Egypt
  • Author: Niamh Maria O'Sullivan
  • Publication Date: 08-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: Few issues in international politics have sparked more debate this year than the events unfolding in Syria. What began 17 months ago as peaceful marches seeking reform has brought Syria to the brink of a civil war that threatens to stop the Arab Spring dead in its tracks. As the death toll rises and accusations of crimes against humanity mount against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his ruling Ba'ath Party, many are calling for an armed intervention to put an end to the Assad regime's widespread human rights abuses. Finding the right way forward for Syria, however, is proving elusive and so we turn to philosophy and, in particular, to Just War theory for guidance. Though often criticized as a soft or unrealistic approach to foreign policy, principles like just cause and proportionality guide our way through the moral enigma that has confounded the international community since the uprising began. The answers are far from easy. As the battle for Syria rages on, the most ethical, and difficult, thing to do might just be to stay out.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Civil War, Human Rights, Regime Change
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, Syria
  • Author: Camilla Committeri
  • Publication Date: 10-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: The Syrian crisis is dividing the international community like no other Arab uprising has done so far. While the United States and the European Union stand squarely against the Syrian regime, Russia remains a staunch defender of state sovereignty and the Al-Assad regime. There are three main factors that explain this position: Moscow's historical relations with Damascus; Russia's traditional opposition to US presence in the Middle East; and the surge in domestic opposition in Russia itself. This last factor, and the recent evolution of Russian domestic politics, is crucial to grasp Moscow's foreign policy towards Syria and the Middle East, a s well as towards the United States and Europe.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Civil War, Bilateral Relations, Foreign Aid
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Middle East, Arabia, Moscow, Syria
  • Author: Silvia Menegazzi
  • Publication Date: 12-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: China's assertiveness is growing. While in the past China's foreign policy kept a low profile in international affairs, global developments, prime amongst which in the Middle East, highlight China's growing influence in world politics and its ensuing role in shaping global norms. Within the liberal peace discourse, China's reinterpretation of international norms can be seen as the result of a mixture of prior local norms - sovereignty and non-interference - and changes within the international environment - namely conflicts in North Africa and the Middle East. Particularly, in terms of intervention and peace-building practices, China insists that a number of preconditions - which are encapsulated in the notion of Responsible Protection (RP) - have to be met in order to consider intervention in sovereign states. This paper argues that in order to achieve a full picture of Chinese foreign policy and its normative underpinnings, it is necessary to explore the debate within non-state actors beyond the government apparatus, such as think tanks and research institutions.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Emerging Markets, International Affairs, Foreign Direct Investment
  • Political Geography: China, Middle East, Libya, North Africa, Syria
  • Author: Daniela Pioppi
  • Publication Date: 02-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: It is a common place in the literature that the Muslim Brotherhood (jama'a al-ikhwan al-muslimin) is - after its re-emergence on the political scene back in the seventies - the main (if not the only) real, organised and mass-based opposition force in Egypt. Events in Egypt in January 2011 have recast attention on this question. This paper aims to evaluate, inasmuch as it is possible, the state of health of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) today, after forty years of coexistence with the Egyptian (neo)-authoritarian regime. Has the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood represented a real alternative to the incumbent regime? Or it is more correct to speak today in terms of an almost 'functional' opposition, tamed by recurring political repression and limited freedom of action? To what extent has the Muslim Brotherhood been able to shape or at least to influence the Egyptian political and social agenda, both with respect to the regime and to other opposition forces?
  • Topic: Democratization, Islam, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, Egypt
  • Author: Riccardo Alcaro, Andrea Dessì
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: Frustrated by years of inconclusive peace talks, the Palestinians are turning to the United Nations to gain recognition as an independent state. Their bid is opposed by Israel and the United States, with the latter threatening to block any bid for full UN membership in the UN Security Council. To bypass the US veto, the Palestinians plan to request recognition to the UN General Assembly, where they are sure to get the two-third majority of votes needed for the approval of the resolution. While legally non-binding, a favourable vote in the UNGA would be a political boost for the Palestinians' cause - or so they hope. Full EU backing would give critical political weight to the Palestinians' claim. EU states are deeply divided on the issue of Palestinian membership of the UN but instead of opposing the initiative altogether, the EU has been engaging the Palestinian leadership in the hope of modifying its stance. Should the EU fail to persuade the PA to give up on its request for full UN membership, it should abstain in bloc while tabling a concurring resolution that would spell out clearly the parameters for renewed peace talks.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, United Nations, Territorial Disputes
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Middle East, Israel, Palestine
  • Author: Philippe Droz-Vincent
  • Publication Date: 07-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: Arab armies are closed and secretive actors. Yet they have been propelled to the fore in 2011, acting as midwifes and active participants in the revolts in Tunisia and Egypt. Their posture vis-à-vis incumbent regimes is crucial in other Arab countries too - Libya, Yemen, Bahrain, Syria - as the wave of popular uprisings against authoritarian regimes has spread. In view of this, there is an essential need to understand what kind of actors Arab armies are. The nature of armies in authoritarian settings shapes the pattern of resilience or of breakdown for regimes facing popular uprisings, and the prospect for various transition countries in the Arab world.
  • Topic: Social Stratification
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Libya, Yemen, Arabia, North Africa, Syria, Egypt, Bahrain, Tunisia