NORTH AFRICA and the MIDDLE EAST
     

North Africa and Middle East
Very first, it is of added value to have some insight in Islamic history. Islam also is part of world history. Remember for example the three Islamic world empires during the 17th century, despite the widespread notion that the limited world-historical importance of Islam came to an end.

Ismail Serageldin let know that for a long time the West has dominated the world. But during centuries the Islamic world did too. From Andalucia till India. Europe brought us Erasmus, Spinoza, human rights, democracy, enlightenment and the European Union. The Islamic world florished with Alexandria, Damascus, Cordoba. And tolerance and knowledge are known to both entities.

Another admirable aproachable review in which the Middle East is centralized is 'A history of the world through Muslim eyes'. This review succeeds to transfer a nuanced vision of the Islamic world, such as the Sufi who played an important role in classical Islamic literature and poetry as the Islamic 'Renaissance' to a larger audience.

On North Africa and the Middle East, UN News Centre reports about Winds of Change, because as we know, the world dramatically changed by powerful, non-violent struggle for democracy, human rights spreading across north Africa and Middle East.


In the wake of the unprecedented uprisings that brought to an end decades of repressive authoritarian rule, the Southern Mediterranean region has reached a turning point in its history, presenting many opportunities and challenges for the EU. Few in Brussels or member state capitals saw the Arab uprisings coming, yet ever since 2010 European foreign policy-makers have had to devote much time and attention to deciding what or what not to do in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and the Middle East (where it has remained relatively quiet in Jordan). No list of foreign policy priorities for 2013 could possibly encompass all the challenges ahead, and the EU will certainly be called upon to deal with agenda items that no one had anticipated.

That said, one can foresee certain foreign policy challenges that the EU will have to address this year. Cultivating workable ties with Ukraine, Russia and other neighbours in the east, reviving the transatlantic partnership in trade, rebalancing alliances with Asian countries, and pooling and sharing defence capabilities will all command the attention of those who shape the EU’s external action. But the number one challenge that will take up most of the Foreign Affairs Council’s time is the Middle East.

Zaman vandaag wrote: "Some prominent liberal figures from the Arab world came during the debate to the floor. It echoed a continued confidence in the efforts and commitment to the Arab revolutions were conducted. "This is not the end, just as little as the beginning of the end. This is the end of the beginning." As quoted Saudi Arabia scholar Koert Debeuf in his introduction, the former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill (1874-1965) about the fall of the Berlin Wall (1989). Churchill's verdict goes according Debeuf also perfect for the Arab Spring: "It is not fair to speak of an Arab Winter After the French Revolution [1789-1799] was also needed 80 years before there is a stable democratic regime in power. was. "

Also the representatives of liberal tendencies in several Arab countries remained wholeheartedly support the project of the Arab Spring. "We have the end of the Arab Spring have not seen," said Awn Shawkat Al-Khasawneh, former vice president of the International Court of Justice and Prime Minister of Jordan between 2011 and 2012. For him, the Arab Spring had a lasting impact, not more to come is: "Things can not be returned as they were for the Arab Revolution." For Naguib Sawiris, Egyptian businessman and leader of the Free Egyptians Party, which was founded in 2011 and pursues liberal, secular and democratic values, is the positive impact of the revolutions of 2010, unmistakable eyes. "The Arab Spring changed the dogma that you dictatorial leaders afraakt., A signal was given that you will be evicted if you do not serve your country."

Even the Syrian Fawaz Tello, one of the most prominent figures in the opposition to the regime of Bashar al-Assad, has hope. His country undoubtedly is in the most cruel and desperate situation following the Arab Spring. He believes that the international community share responsibility for. "The first two years were without extremism. People took to the streets and there were slain by the Assad regime. The world watched. Then extremism surfaced." Yet Tello sees a way out of the crisis: "It is as Jesus hung on the cross, he had to suffer before he could free humanity, we must now also suffer to be free then.."

Mahmoud Jibril was president - read: 'Prime Minister' - of the Executive Committee of the Libyan National Transitional Council in 2011. Today he is chairman of the National Forces Alliances, a party that upholds liberal values, but also a promoter of the "modern Islam . Jibril expressed his confidence in the young generation. Which he described in a 2005 interview as ".com generation", which according to him, when the future in his hands. "These young people took to the streets because they did not work, because there was no economic development in their country because they were denied rights. We can not pass up their project. Young people should again take to the streets to defend their rights." Jibril also saw an important difference with the French Revolution, because society today is fundamentally different looks. "We as never before needed a government of diversity."


Arab Leaders for freedom and democracy

an independent organisation which aims to provide non-partisan facts and analysis of the Middle East & North Africa (MENA) and its history, society, economy, culture, water and energy crises from an Arab perspective

A major problem was noted by the panel was to find a balance between security and respect for human rights. Often put in Arab countries human rights and democracy on hold in order to guarantee safety. That is clearly the case in Egypt, where the legal system handles extremely repressive government opponents and supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood.

But in Lebanon there are problems. Since the elections were postponed on two occasions for security reasons. "But elections are important to develop a stable leadership," said Ahmad Hariri, president of the Lebanese Freedom Movement. "In elections we might lose seven or eight seats, but that the Parliament will be a much better reflection of the people."

Guy Verhofstadt gave as president of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) a perspective on what Europe can do in finding a good solution. The European Union must work to make him more of a sound neighborhood and foreign policy and increase its involvement in the region, by providing financial support and ontwikkelingshul. "Currently there is a lack of unity. With 28 different opinions, it is hard to go forward," Verhofstadt said. "The West is incredible. It's only between when it is not asked to intervene. In Iraq, we have intervened in Syria is not. However, the revolution in Syria was no different than any other revolutions. Yet the West has done nothing . It is our duty to support democratic leaders and parties. "

The present Arab leaders warned the West to think carefully how to deal with the problems in the Middle East. So Jibril pointed to the millions of refugees who are flooding Europe, fleeing the crisis in their own country. "Investing in stability in North Africa, is not a favor from Europe, but an investment in their own national security. Libya is a forest fire. The fire can go in any direction. Watch out."

At the economic level can the West in the Middle East, prevention is better than cure, said Naguib Sawiris: "The West will pay a high price if they should invest in stopping migrants. It is better to invest directly in the economy of Arabic countries".
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TIME TO REDRAW THE MAP OF THE MIDDLE EAST, 27 September 2013

editorial Steven Blockmans, senior research fellow, head of EU Foreign Policy CEPS

As the blood-soaked stalemate in Syria drags on, territorial divisions in the country are becoming more entrenched. Bashar al-Assad’s regime is tightening its grip on the western, most populous part of the country and rebel forces are consolidating their hold on the Euphrates valley. As al-Qaeda-linked groups mete out sharia law in their caliphates in the eastern desert areas of Syria, Kurdish groups are creating an autonomous region in the north-east of the country. As feared, Syria’s civil war is spreading to its neighbours, the most vulnerable of which is lebanon. A weak state of five million people, lebanon has already taken in more than 700,000 syrian refugees across its porous borders, most of them Sunnis. Vicious attacks across the Sunni-Shia divide are on the increase.
The long border between the eastern deserts of Syria and the western deserts of Iraq is also losing its physical reality as al- Qaeda fighters move freely back and forth. the fact is the syrian civil war has reignited a sectarian conflict that has never really died down since the US invasion of Iraq in 2003.

In all three states, the power of central government is waning as ethnic and religious groups retreat to their own well-defended and near-autonomous enclaves. The heart of the Middle East now consists of porous, fragmented countries stretching from the Mediterranean to I.R. of Iran. The external borders of this bloc are not inviolable either. Syrian mortars have landed in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, and the violence in Syria has frequently spilled over the border with Turkey, across which insurgent groups advance and retreat at will. Turkey has so far taken in 460,000 syrian refugees; Jordan more than half a million.

All this heralds the end of ‘Sykes-Picot, the infamous 1916 agreement in which Britain and France dealt with the ‘Syria Question’. This agreement formed the basis for a treaty negotiated during and after the 1919 Versailles Peace Conference to carve up the Ottoman territories in and old-style imperialist land grab. France and Britain drew lines to divide their zones of influence in Mesopotamia and Palestine, without heeding the ethno-religious and geographical realities on the ground. Fear of instability in the Middle East is pushing the US, Russia, the EU and its member states to talk of a diplomatic solution to the syrian conflict. But a hard-and-fast agreement is unimaginable if world powers stick to Sykes-Picot and ignore the wider conflicts playing out in syria: a regional struggle between shia and sunni that is also a longstanding conflict between iranian-led Hezbollah and iran’s traditional enemies, notably saudi Arabia; territorial disputes between Israel and its Arab neighbours; and the independence drives of the Palestinians and the Kurds.

Sykes-Picot is dead and should be buried. It stands in the way of creating a durable peace in the Middle East. Any way out of the quagmire will require a grand bargain - one that establishes a new order in the whole region and draws borders accordingly.

See longer CEPS Commentary by Steven Blockmans (forthcoming):“Vanishing lines in the sand – why a new map of the Middle East is necessary”.

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So Much for the Arab Spring, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Posted: 08/19/2013 10:39 am. Huffington Post

So much for the Arab Spring. In Cairo, Egyptian history appears to have completed a bloody full circle. First the crowds filled Tahrir Square to demand the end of a military-backed dictatorship. Then, just two years later, the crowds filled Tahrir Square again to demand the restoration of a military-backed dictatorship. Now, within weeks of the coup that overthrew the democratically elected government of Mohamed Morsi, massacre has become the new normal in Cairo. In 2011, Egypt seemed to have reached a turning point -- but it ended up turning 360 degrees. We are back to a "temporary" martial law that will probably last for years. However, in the Middle East as a whole -- and probably in Egypt, too -- the revolutionary story is far from over. In Syria, a civil war rages that is increasingly sectarian in character. In Tunisia, protests against the Islamist government are growing in the wake of yet another assassination of a secularist politician. In Libya, violence between rival militias is on the increase. There, as well as in Iraq, we are seeing car bombs and mass jailbreaks.

Jihadist violence is spreading like an epidemic as far afield as Mali and Niger. Yemen has become so dangerous that two weeks ago Britain and the United States had to evacuate their embassies in the capital, Sana'a. Only in the wealthy monarchies of the Gulf does an uneasy stability persist. But it depends heavily on the high price of oil, which allows the various royal dynasties to bribe their peoples into docility. Less wealthy monarchs, such as the king of Jordan, fear for their thrones. The Arab Spring was supposed to usher in a more democratic political order in the Middle East. In the United States, conservatives and liberals alike rejoiced in early 2011 at the prospect of a new Egypt run by cool young Google executives. This was to be a Twitter-feed revolution. Instead, the immediate beneficiaries were bearded Islamists committed to the imposition of Sharia. One Islamist faction -- the Muslim Brotherhood -- may have bungled its chance to rule in Egypt. But others are still riding high.

The chance for an effective Western intervention to help topple the Syrian dictator has been more or less blown precisely because extreme jihadist groups have taken over the war against President Bashar al-Assad. Osama bin Laden may be dead, but al-Qaeda is very much alive. It was the interception of a secret message between Ayman al-Zawahiri, its chief, and Nasser al-Wuhayshi, leader of the Yemen-based al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, that earlier this month prompted America to shut down 19 diplomatic posts throughout the region -- a humiliating illustration of weakness by the superpower that once dominated the Middle East.

What has gone wrong?

  • The protests that were misleadingly labeled "the Arab Spring" exposed multiple conflicts between different and sometimes overlapping groups. At first it was conflicts around economic issues and political freedoms that came to the fore. Youth unemployment, high food prices and rampant corruption: these were the grievances that led to the overthrow of the despots in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya. They still matter. In Cairo, many of the same arguments were used against Morsi as had previously been used against Hosni Mubarak. But we now see just how complex and intricately layered these young societies are. For three other forms of conflict are now clearly visible.
    The first revolves around identity: Who are we and how do we organize our society? Here the cleavage is between those who would emphasize an Arab national identity and those who see an Islamic religious identity as more important. This division dates back to the fall of the Ottoman Empire. Note that even within these groups there are subdivisions. Some pan-Arabists are liberals, others are socialists, and still others are unabashed militarists. Some are in favor of the strict separation of church and state; others would allow religious leaders and institutions some control. The pan-Islamists are united in their endeavor to apply Sharia, but disagree about how soon and how literally that should be done.

  • The second divide is urban versus rural. People in the region's cities tend to be less religious and more Western-oriented. The country dwellers are more conservative and deeply suspicious of the West. This picture is further complicated by those trapped in a no man's land between the rural and urban areas, in the sprawling shantytowns where millions live in squalor with little prospect of employment, reliant on government-subsidized fuel and bread.

  • The third cleavage that predates these new troubles is sectarianism, above all the region-wide rivalry between the Sunni and Shi'ite brands of Islam. Given the breadth and depth of these fissures that run through Middle Eastern society, it is tempting to conclude that democracy is bound to fail there. Sooner or later, the pessimists now argue, the countries of the Arab Spring will revert to the old kind of harsh rule by "strongmen."

To remain in power in these shame-and-honor cultures, as David Pryce-Jones described more than 20 years ago in "The Closed Circle," it seems a leader has to combine most if not all of the following strategies: generating an aura of fear, ruthlessly eliminating rivals, appointing trusted friends to run the army and security services, using foreign alliances to his advantage and -- of course -- placing busts, portraits and statues of himself in every public space. Some observers are already wondering how long it will be before the de facto ruler of Egypt, General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, ticks all of these boxes. Yet I am not quite so pessimistic as to expect a complete restoration of the old order. The Arab Spring may appear to have failed, but in many important respects the Arab world has been changed irrevocably.

  • First, the institution of tribalism is not as strong and cohesive as it used to be. Individuals within a tribe or clan have developed other loyalties and can defy traditional forms of authority in ways that were unthinkable a generation ago. The combined factors of urbanization, young demographics, displaced peoples and emigration will further erode tribal and clan loyalties

  • Second, the appeal of radical Islam is beginning to wane. This trend is paradoxical because Islamists continue to enjoy considerable grassroots loyalty. However, after what people have experienced in countries where Islamists have come to power -- notably in Ayatollah Khomeini's Iran and the Taliban's Afghanistan -- it is no longer self-evident that Sharia is the answer to all the problems of modernity. This is the key to the backlash against the Islamists that we have seen in Egypt, Tunisia and elsewhere. Islamists thrive in opposition and in chaos but fail miserably in government.

  • Third, the effects of globalization have changed attitudes towards the West. Thanks to migration and telecommunications, Arabs in particular and Muslims in general are now physically and virtually connected to Europe and the United States as never before. They may not approve of everything they see in the West, but they nevertheless are seeing how Western political institutions of freedom actually work.

  • Fourth, the emergence of hitherto oppressed interest groups cannot be reversed. Women, religious minorities and even homosexuals remain highly vulnerable in the Middle East and North Africa. But such groups are gaining strength through organization. If you are a woman who has been raped, you are better off going to a women's group than to your local despot. Feminism, in particular, has been one of the surprise winners of the past three years in Egypt.

  • Finally, the attitudes of Americans and Europeans have changed. In the past, any despot in the region worth his salt understood how to present himself as strategically vital to Western interests. For better or for worse, that game is now almost over. Rulers who cannot credibly claim to have popular legitimacy can no longer count on being propped up by Washington, London or Paris.

Significantly, the restored military regime in Egypt is counting on the Gulf states, not the United States, to bankroll it. Last Thursday, President Obama interrupted his holiday to give a speech canceling joint U.S.-Egyptian military maneuvers. The minority of Americans who still care about the Arab Spring are urging him to go further. But even if he cuts U.S. aid to Egypt, it won't make much difference. The Saudis and Emiratis can more than compensate.

Do all these profound changes mean the Middle East is on the brink of a glorious new era of peace, democracy, freedom and prosperity? On the contrary. The collision between the region's traditional divisions and these new and disruptive trends will be anything but peaceful. I look ahead with trepidation and pity towards a prolonged period of conflict as revolutionary and religious wars coincide and interact. All we can say with any certainty is that there can be no return to the old days. This was indeed a turning point -- even if the Arab world has turned in a direction that few Western commentators expected two years ago.

Do all these profound changes mean the Middle East is on the brink of a glorious new era of peace, democracy, freedom and prosperity? On the contrary. The collision between the region's traditional divisions and these new and disruptive trends will be anything but peaceful. I look ahead with trepidation and pity towards a prolonged period of conflict as revolutionary and religious wars coincide and interact. All we can say with any certainty is that there can be no return to the old days. This was indeed a turning point -- even if the Arab world has turned in a direction that few Western commentators expected two years ago.

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January 2013, CEPS drafted a commentary on The EU’s External Action towards the Middle East: Resolution required, in which is addressed that one can foresee certain foreign policy challenges that the EU will have to address this year. Cultivating workable ties with Ukraine, Russia and other neighbours in the east, reviving the transatlantic partnership in trade, rebalancing alliances with Asian countries, and pooling and sharing defence capabilities will all command the attention of those who shape the EU’s external action. But the number one challenge that will take up most of the
Foreign Affairs Council’s time is the Middle East.

Contributions have also to come up with the Middle East peace process where, to render the problem even more complex, it is not only the usual suspects, but also new actors such as Turkey, Brazil, and Qatar that want to have a say. So to remain relevant the European Union will have to invent new instruments and new tools, and draft a new narrative of what it is about. indeed, the extent to which Europe has lost confidence is “striking”, and Vimont believes that “we have to change the mood”.
Europe seems to have forgotten its extraordinary past performance, and the numerous international agreements that it has been able to conclude in the last 20 years, and become an inward-looking continent full of fear and concern. Thus, by putting its house in order through the establishment of a new administration, the EU will also provide a message of hope. Third countries have been waiting decades for this to happen. Vis-à-vis these countries, the fundamental step for the EU will be to establish a constructive dialogue based on openness and the ability to listen.

Until recently Europe had taken a somewhat patronising attitude towards third countries, with partners feeling as if they were being “pushed in a certain direction”. Now the aim will be to give rise to a “true and genuine partnership”, including with countries like Tunisia and Egypt, which are “looking for dignity”. This will be a formidable task.

Countries of the Arab Spring are in crisis; violence of ultraconservative Muslims, growing economic problems, authority vacuum. Is democratic reform actually possible? The short answer is no. 2011 should be seen as 1848, as the moment when the people first initiate the fall of the repressive state. It can take decades till institutions are established, on which a viable democratic system can be built. But currently, the events of the driving force, which is a dangerous situation.

Ideologies are depleted. The on modernize liberalism of the 30's and 40 failed, Arab nationalism failed. Of the fundamentalism is life artificially prolonged by the war against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan and the Iranian revolution, that is to say by the glow of something else that was promising. But now, it is really discredited.

A more likely scenario if things are not reversed in the good directions, is a series of failed states and social and an economic morass that the region will change into a source of misery.

Syria
is no longer Syria. Think of warlords and the death of the urban Syria. There is concern about the impact of the war in the region.
The three countries in North Africa are in a fragile stage in their development. But in all these three states failure is not yet a settled matter. There is still a chance to lift out of the morass and draw the right course of action.

One change is that people take to the streets if something does not please. The region has entered a new era, as
in 1848.

Reel Festivals is a group of people who believe that art and culture are the best way to break down barriers and increase communication. Previous events have focused on Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Afghanistan, with poetry, music and film events.

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MEDPRO
published in October 2011 a policy paper on various possible scenarios are explored that could play out in EU-Mediterranean relations over the next two decades but find, lamentably, that the EU has set itself on a ‘business as usual’ course, leaving the region open to further polarisation and the involvement of other external players.

In July 2013 the paper 'Scenarios Assessment and Transitions towards a Sustainable Euro-Mediterranean in 2030' was published, in which is examined and assessed various possible scenarios that could play out in EU-Mediterranean relations over the next two decades. It offers also recommendations towards long-term sustainable socio-economic development in the region.

A masterclass at the Erasmus University Rotterdam on the 'Unrest in the Arab world' was attended by more than 50 students. Specialists from the Clingendael Institute, gave their views and insights about the consequences of the Arab Revolt, the battle for Libya (read the secret plan to take Tripoli), where the principle of responsibility to protect (RtP) was performed and Syria and on the role and consequences for the EU. Some articles (in Foreign Affairs, CFR, Press Europe (*)) were recommended to study.

Anticipating the lectures, some discussions amoung students were already started: 'we consider our moral values higher than embedded moral values in the Middle East', 'accept that there are differences', 'not too much interference with each other' and 'surveying both sides' were some train of thoughts.

Certain movements and developments, such as the Arab uprise, are not possible to predict. It can be said that the uprise is not a problem in itself. It is about demonstrations, due to desperation and claiming rights, such as (honest division of) work and money. However, the revolt, in the mean time also called 'MENA', has serious consequences for world-politics. It touches the Middle East conflict, supply of oil is an item, and terrorism has become more on the stage. It is not anymore only about riots, but also painful surgeries (Libya, Syria) are at stake. The events take place in Europe's back-yard and Europe has to act to solve. Surgeries are only sound if there is danger for social peace and security. Governments has forfeited their sovereignty, which will shift to the communities. Freedom, role of women and education would deliver progress.

A momentum is when geopolitical interests will come into force. In the end, democracy will be the best solution, but such a form of government has to be accepted. The role for the EU was also questioned.

The EU as a foreign policy actor was discussed, as EU's (divided) reactions to the revolts and the current policy proposals were. Concerning proposals, partnership for democracy, communication on markets, money, mobility, jobs and youth, as migration should be on the agenda. Also Turkey was mentioned, what country has been seen as a model.


Masterclass 'Unrest in the Arabic world, the EU's role and consequences. Who speaks for Europe?

(*) A few months into the Arab revolutions, what lessons for Europe? For Arshin Adib-Moghaddam, professor at the London University, it should not succumb to the myth of a conflict between Islam and the West and engage in a more ambitious, independent diplomacy.

Jan Fingerland
Imagine that I am a Martian who has just landed on Earth, and I know nothing about the Middle East. How would you explain to me what is happening now in the Arab world?

It's a great uprising for democracy and freedom, independence and human rights. And it’s happening for the first time since the fall of the Ottoman Empire. All the Arab countries essentially grew out of the disintegration of this empire. Some do have a separate history as a nation state, like Iran, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia to some degree, but the colonial era had an immense impact on domestic politics. There thus arose authoritarian state structures, because the new states tried to create an idea of what it means to be a Syrian, Iraqi, Jordanian, and so on. The uprisings do have roots within the societies themselves and are calling for a new kind of politics. New television stations broadcast very independently, and that is also something new in this region. Thanks to them, a new kind of political awareness, a new understanding of politics and thus new demands were all able to emerge. These are demands for accountability for those in power, and for social justice.

Does this mean that Arab societies are now overcoming this legacy of authoritarianism? What has actually happened?
To understand the phenomenon of authoritarianism in this region, we must realise that the countries are heirs to a violent period of colonialism and then the post-colonial resistance. The military leaders installed themselves at the top, and not any organically developed structures of state. In Europe, these structures evolved over the centuries. There was the French Revolution, two world wars, Hitler, Mussolini’s wars and Franco’s wars. Civil society in Europe developed very slowly, and so there grew out of it a tried and tested and viable democracy. The Arab world, though, never had that "luxury of having a history." But now the structures that grew from the bottom up have rebelled against the authority of the state and its sovereignty. There’s no road back.

What do the Arab revolutions mean for Europe?
There are many security and strategic challenges, because the political terrain is changing. There are governments emerging that will listen more to their societies, and societies emerging that will demand a foreign policy independent of the West. It is no coincidence that Egypt and Tunisia did not support intervention in Libya. Egypt is also preparing to renew relations with Iran, which until recently was a complete taboo. The EU and the U.S. will have to prepare for situations that will arise in the region, which they will be able to control far less than they were able to just last year. Here we see similarities with Latin America, where the regimes had previously been much more docile with regards to the West. Just as imperialist interventions into their affairs is no longer possible there, no longer will they be possible in western Asia, either.

It is something like a second wave of decolonisation? Less direct political influence of the West, but for all that, greater influence of Western ideas?
Definitely. After all, there was no open anti-Americanism on display in the Arab revolutions. Turkey also cooperates with Europe, yet pursues its own goals as well. Personally, I think it's a good thing. That is, it does help the cause of peace throughout the region. In the Middle East we need a security strategy that does not serve the interests of outside players.

How do you evaluate the policies of the West towards the Arab revolutions?
The European Union should have a policy much more independent of the U.S. than it has had till now. This has been manifested in many respects, like Iraq, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and most recently Iran. Europe should pursue its own interests. Iran will have to be drawn to the negotiating table. The policy of marginalising and sanctioning that country has failed. Iran's nuclear project is unstoppable, and there is no military solution. Everybody knows it. And the European Union is a better partner for this dialogue than the U.S., because it’s not weighed down by any historical baggage. Strategic considerations also play a role here. For example, how will we transport oil and gas from Afghanistan in the future? Would it not be better to bring the pipeline through India, Pakistan and Iran than through Russia? Likewise, the Libyan operation was a mistake. Europe is closely intertwined with the Islamic and Arab world and has to admit it.

If the Libyan operation was a mistake, would you rather have seen Europe not intervene in Libya? Even if it meant having to look on as Gaddafi massacred the opposition?
If it had been possible at the outset to organise a conference that brought together the regional players, where Gaddafi and the opposition sat down together, that would have been the right way. If there had been a diplomatic initiative at the very beginning, then I think that Gaddafi would not have reacted the way he did in the end. When you see there is some other solution, you hesitate to massacre your own population. Military intervention, on the contrary, made the violence in Libya worse. You cannot subjugate people by bombing them, or intervene militarily to create a new situation. Who do you think is defending Gaddafi's regime? He still has some support. It's not just down to hiring mercenaries. What will happen with the remnants of that regime? Strategic diplomacy could resolve the deadlock.

Is Libya therefore another Iraq for the West, just closer to the borders of Europe?
Nobody knows exactly what the movement in eastern Libya is. It's far from being just liberals and democrats. There are lots of different tribal forces with their own agendas, and jihadis too. Al-Qaeda is rejoicing over this situation, because these events can be integrated into its world-view of the conflict between Islam and the West. A military solution would not be a happy one.

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ANALYSIS: EUROPE FACES RISKS WITH UNREST IN ARAB WORLD

(Reuters 17-02-2010, By David Brunnstrom

Europe, with its history of war and authoritarianism not long in the past, is often quick to promote democracy, human rights and the rule of law as the values it wants to see other states adopt.But the unrest sweeping North Africa and the Middle East, bringing down authoritarian rulers in Egypt and Tunisia, has forced it to face an uncomfortable truth: for years it turned a blind eye to such undemocratic regimes, favoring stability and a semblance of order over the risk of political unrest or chaos.

The trade-off provided several benefits, keeping the threat of Islamist militancy in check and holding back a potential wave of economic migrants, while trade and business opportunities grew steadily, if not at exceptional rates. Now, with popular revolts throughout the region, Europe is trying to carve out a new approach, while not appearing hypocritical or ending up on the wrong side of history. At the same time, many of the threats it feared most in the past, particularly migration, have become acute, not diminished. Aljazeera

"The European Union has been struggling to find an appropriate policy to apply to North Africa and the Middle East," said the Center for European Reform. "We are really at a point where there will be lots of difficult questions and I think right now the EU is clearly uncertain how it's going to address them." The ability of Europe, and the United States, to influence peaceful democratic change may now be significantly reduced, analysts say, not least because European states remain unwilling to deliver the incentives that could encourage change. "There is a risk that things go very badly," said O'Donnell. "Depending on how the transitions develop there could be significant civil unrest and violence in various North African regions."

A big threat, as already evidenced in Tunisia, where thousands of people have fled by boat to Italy, is migration, an issue that could easily spread to other regional states. "Civil unrest can spill over into other countries and contribute potentially to further radicalization of certain groups and it can have very significant spill over effects on the Middle East peace process," said O'Donnell. "The problem is that the few incentives the EU could offer -- liberalizing trade in agricultural goods and facilitating free movement of people -- it has been very averse to deliver." Not only have countries in southern Europe resisted opening markets to competing goods from North Africa, such as citrus fruits, tomatoes and olive oils, populations across Europe don't want to see visa rules relaxed to allow in more migrants

 
Except Libya, North Africa is on the path of trying to get democratic governments. The European Union is not trying to impose particular models; they want to see something they can understand to be a genuine democratic movement. There is a big new point about these Arab revolutions. These are people who want ordinary things like jobs, no tortures in prisons, so this looks like universally valid demand for decent governments. The question is to give the present mechanisms more real significance'

(11-3-2011 Emerson, The Voice of Russia)
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EASTERN EUROPE NOT A MODEL

Some commentators have compared the democratic wave sweeping North Africa and the Gulf with the fall of communism in Eastern Europe at the start of the 1990s. But the Center for European Policy Studies said the EU now found itself in a fundamentally different position. Two decades ago the EU was able to influence positive change by offering eventual membership to former Soviet bloc states. But North Africa has no such prospect and even offering visa-free travel remains politically unsellable in the EU.

Visa-free for North Africa is not going to fly -- there are limits. This is the difference between offering membership perspectives and not doing so. If you're not doing that, then your leverage is limited. While the EU can step up programs to promote democracy, it would have to work hard to rebuild its credibility among reformists in North Africa.
The EU has miscalculated badly over the last decade in equating the status quo with stability. It really has to show the EU is willing to live up to its commitments to integrate North African economies and political systems into a genuine project of regional integration.

The challenge for the EU is not so much having an influence -- its vast trading power and the attractions of a marketplace with 500 million consumers give it that -- but ensuring it brings that influence to bear quickly and in the right way. If we're seen to be seriously behind the curve, there is the risk of getting caught on the wrong side of history," said Youngs, pointing out that past experience has shown the risks of a radical backlash if heightened expectations of change after pro-democracy uprisings are not met.

"The international community has to act quite quickly and show that political change can be accompanied by really tangible economic and social change." But with major vested interests in the region -- not least in the oil and gas sectors, in which North African states are big suppliers to the EU -- the bloc as a whole is likely to remain extremely cautious in its approach and to renewed unrest.
EU members with close historical ties in the region, particularly France and Italy, also frequently take positions that conflict with northern European member states. "There comes the question of how they relate to countries with regimes still in place," said O'Donnell. "I don't see the EU transforming its approach to Libya, for example.

"But it's going to be very difficult for the EU to say it fully supports democratic transition in Egypt while not raising matters with Egypt's neighbors, when Egypt's neighbors are going to be quite uncomfortable with what's happening in Egypt."

At least the Council of Europe can devote oneself to bring solutions concerning the unrest. This organisation of 47 member states, representing a population of 800m and based on legal standards is already specialised and experienced in bringing in human rights, democracy, rule of law and cultural co-operation. The Council of Europe is one of the oldest international organisations working towards European integration, having been founded in 1949. It is distinct from the European Union (EU) which has common policies, binding laws and only twenty-seven members.

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Actions to support democratic transition in the Southern Mediterranean region


Following recent events in the Mediterranean, together with EUROMESCO and IEMED, CEPS hosted an event, not only to explain, to give insight in situations and to give suggestions, but also with the intention to present a statement concerning the timely impressing events in the regio.

EuroMeSCo, the main network of research centres and institutes on policy and security in the Mediterranean, warns of the fragility of the political transitions in Egypt and Tunisia and proposed, in a declaration addressed to the EU (see below), a series of measures to provide support for the consolidation of stable and inclusive democracies in these countries. The declaration has been presented 3 March 2011 in Brussels.

During the gathering, prevention of instability was stressed.

As introduction facts were given about commitments in cooperation and money, trade with the EU, GDP-growth and years of schooling. It was also said that the enormous transformation in order to built more free societies was not expected. In the past work was done as far as it could be done.

While young Arabs try to force a 1989 break-through on their own, Europe has to focus more on its back-garden. By immigration, trade and cultural relations, Europe is more interweaved with Arab countries than the US does.
Timothy Garton Ash, professor European studies Oxford University, published on 5 February 'THE REVOLT IN OUR BACK-GARDEN AND WHY WE HAVE TO INTERFERE WITH':

'The future of Europe was on the Tahrir square in Cairo at stake as it was in 1989 on the Prague's Wenceslas-square. This time reasons are geographic and demographic. The Arab crisis area from Marocco to Jordan is the neighbour of Europe. By decennia of migration, young Arabs have nephews, cousins and nieces in Madrid, Paris and London.
If these rebels succeed, and will not be followed by an n'th islamic dictatorship, than these young people will see chances of survival in their own countries. The gap between experiences in Europe and Arab countries will gradually diminish and with that also the cultural schizophrenia which can lead in the utmost to suicide attacks. As their countries modernises, young Arabs (almost 1/3 of the population around the North African coast) living in the regio, will contribute to European economies. Besides, the reform-examples will also pervades in the whole islamic world.
If these revolts fail and the Arabic world will sink away again in depths of autocracy, tens of million young man and women with their pent-up wrath will cross the sea and will Europe shake to its foundations. If the rebels succeed to drive out the present group of tirans, but in some of the countries islamic forces will get the upperhand through which new Iran's come into existance; then heaven may assist us all.

This is the effort. If this is not of substantial European interest, than I don't know it anymore.

Is this the Arab 1989? We have a same feeling if we look at to the events, jumping from country to country, and if we see the people who spontaniously get up and say 'enough is enough'. But till now, there are only a few signs from democratic movements and groups from midfielders wiwth a non-violent discipline and cleared the way for a transition that was combatted around round tables.
In Tunesia, trade unions played an important role. In Egypt we see Mohamed El-Baradei with his National Union for Change and the former prisoned opposition leader Ayman Nour. But so far an effective front by the people or a forum for civilians has not yet come into the front.
There were some encouraging signs of civilian-selforganisations on one hand. However, there were also violent clashes with pro-Mubarak demonstrators.

In spite of a mobilizing power of the internet and social media, this problem of political organisation is of essential importance. That is why Israelian warn that the right analogy is not that of Europe 1989, but that of Iran in 1979. A wide uprise with many secular and left-sided elements will be take over by islamists, because they are better organised.

The fact that Arabic dictators as Mubarak has blackmailed the West for thirty years with this islamic ghoast does not mean that is does'nt exist.
But the disappointment of Arabic democrats who hear about this, is understandable. After all, they hope for the chance of their live: liberation. On the other hand it is an Allahu Akbar-free revolution according to a Egyptian journalist.
Nobody knows what will happen tomorrow, next month or within a year. Policy-makers and experts-on-distance are in the proportion of revolutions as pedestrians who joined a heavy mud cross-country on city-shoes. They are behind and puff. We need people on the spot who speaks the language, know the history and who have been there for years and can judge the main players and societal powers. That there only a few of such experts present, is an evidence for indifference from Europe for its own back-garden. Probably there are more European experts on politics of California, than experts for Egypts' politics, Tunesia or Marocco.

A painful silence is Europe's political reaction till now, followed by cautious encouragements for a peaceful change. After decennia of support Tunesia's dictator France joins now EU-sanctions against this dictator and his familiy. The so-called Union for the Mediteranean did not play any role. Different from the US Secretary of State, the European High Representative was invisable.
Certainly, also Washington did first react in silence and after that with an insipid formulated encouragement to come to a peaceful change. But at least it was clear that there was confusion. Perhaps, there was also involvement in order to arrange not to use violence against lawful demands of the people. On the other hand Europe has had no perceptible influence at all on the course of the events which are for the future of Europe of decisive significance.
As Europeans we can sent warnings to Arabic leaders for the economic consequences of the violent repression and we have certainly to do that. But we can not change much anymore concerning the course of things on the spot. Too much western interference for a specific candidate or opposition-movement can work out wrong. For the time being, lesscan maybe mean more.
Tomorrow, or the day after tomorrow, is another story. Europe has to prepare itself on that day. Egyptian demonstrators make clear what they do not want: Mubarak. However, about what they want from now, is no clear or common vison present. Except of course that it should become better.
If new or if need be temporary leaders of Egypt, Tunesia and other neighbour-countries are of the kind that they welcome European support, than we have to be ready to give that support.
Europeans has more experience with difficult transformations from a dictatorship to a democracy than other countries. No territory has so many instruments available to influence the developments. The Us may have special ties with the Egyptian army and ruling Arabian families, Europe has more trade and has a close web of cultural and personal relations around Mare Nostrum. It has 27 +1 diplomatic relations. It is the place where young Arabians wants to go, to visit, study or to work. Their cousins and nephews are already in Europe. This interweave is a problem as well a chance.
The invisable High Representative should create today a working-group of the new EEAS, that will work out all the answers for all interim outcomes in Egypt, Tunesia and other other countries where the same trends occured in order to claim control their own destiny. They have to corporate with national leaders who have a direct interest in such an initiative such as Spain, Portugal, France and Italy.
The EU stand in need for speed, flexability, guts, fantasy. Let Europe prove that it can give its future a shape a
t home by couragious acting in foreign countries'.

Petra Stienen on Egyptian elections after the 2011 revolution: a farao again or the leader for a new beginning?

Now there are efforts from European institutions to support and to help with respect to (re-)design. Institutionalizing affairs (credible elections), financial strategies and democratic transitions are in front. But each country has its own way of ruling. As a (coming) global player Europe has to change its face.

It is urgent that action is to be taken soon and to remind that it is in the first place about the regio and not about Europe. Although the European Union fosters the change, its views are also focussed on dangers such as political humanitarian crisis.

Declaration:

While the unprecedented and spontaneous mobilisation of Tunisians and Egyptians has achieved a critical historical success – the end of the Ben Ali and Mubarak’s autocratic, corrupt and repressive regimes – it remains unclear whether Tunisia and Egypt will successfully manage the transition to become fair, inclusive and stable democracies.

Socio-economic problems in the Arab world require, above all, credible and sustainable political solutions. Hence, unless far-reaching and genuine – and not merely cosmetic – political reforms are put in place, a further deterioration of socio-economic conditions is all but inevitable and, with it, the likelihood of political and civil unrest.

The EU and other external actors would be well advised to factor this increasingly evident reality into their policies. A radical rethink of EU policies towards the region is called for, the bottom line of which should be to halt lenient EU policies towards countries that are not implementing serious political reform, despite their economic achievements, their proven willingness to cooperate in the fight against terrorism, illegal immigration and broader geostrategic objectives.

The Tunisian and Egyptian Revolutions: Towards a democratisation wave in the Arab world:

Upon the departure of Ben Ali in Tunisia, a unity ‘transition’ government, which for the first time included members of the opposition, was formed and it called for a prompt revamping of the constitution and inclusive fair elections. The protests of the people led to the quasi-dissolution of Ben Ali’s main political party – Rassemblement Constitutionnel Démocratique (RCD) – and the exclusion from the new unity transition government any members of the previous regime. After the resignation of the Prime Minister, who served more than a decade under Ben Ali, the transition government agreed to establish a new constitutional assembly.

The political situation of the country remains overly fragile. Opposition forces are weak, poorly organised and divided, and the country lacks the necessary legal framework for a vibrant political and civil society. The army, which so far has limited itself to containing social unrest, may overstep the mark and enter the political stage. The challenge now is to organise credible electoral platforms and campaigns and a durable democratic culture that reflect the aspirations of the population.

In Egypt, the Mubarak regime created a presidential system in which a single person became the head of the army and political and judicial systems. The only political organisation with presence in all areas of Egyptian life was the ruling party, National Democratic Party (NDP), and the other few political parties were either co-opted or penetrated by the regime. There was no difference between the state and the person at the top.

The presidential system ruled the country via a strong security apparatus, which suppressed any opposition and supported a corrupt regime. Rule of law and justice were totally absent in pre-revolutionary Egypt. Numerous links between the economic, social and political elites also contributed to a general political apathy and the marginalisation of Egyptian society.

After the fall of Mubarak, the army took control of the country and the Military Council is currently ruling the transition period. Radical transformations are needed for the consolidation of a democratic system. Current challenges include redefining the role of the army, the future of political parties and the dealing with consequences of a further deterioration of the economic situation of the country.

Above all, radical constitutional amendments need to be made in order to ensure that forthcoming elections stand the chance of being free, fair and above all representative.

The changing dynamics of the Euro-Mediterranean politics and the way forward:

Against this background, CEPS, IEMED and EuroMesSCo are launching a new initiative to support a successful model of democratic transition in the region and to discuss the current and future role of the European Union to achieve this objective.

At its first meeting hosted by IEMed in Barcelona on 2 March 2011, the members of this Initiative agreed on the following policy recommendations:

  • Put forward a financial strategy to support democratic transitions in the Southern Mediterranean that could help restore Europe’s credibility in the region. Coherent financial strategies should consider frontloading European bilateral funds to those initiatives supporting democratic transitions.

  • Promote a new democratic culture in Southern Mediterranean countries via the creation of an Observatory, which can act as an exchange platform among Northern and Southern Mediterranean civil societies, while building on shared experiences from democratic transitions in Central and Eastern Europe. The EuroMeSCo network can play a central role in sharing civil society’s experiences in democratic transitions.

  • Ensure that future elections in the region are free and fair by offering Electoral Observation Missions as soon as elections are called.

  • Revisit the EU’s mechanisms for external action towards the Southern Mediterranean in light of political changes in the region, including the Union for the Mediterranean, which needs to be reinforced with new activities and sectors that are essential for the economic and social development in the region.

  • Revisit the European Neighbourhood Policy and the Advanced Statuses granted or being negotiated by the EU with Southern Mediterranean countries by establishing a more strategic Euro-Mediterranean partnership that guarantees sustainable inclusive, social and economic development and revisits the conditionality principle.

  • Revise neoliberal economic policies in favour of more competitive and inclusive approaches for the development of South Mediterranean countries and the well-being of their populations.

  • Provide technical assistance on the reform of the political, constitutional and judicial systems, the democratic reform of the armed forces and the national security apparatus.

  • Contribute to a security environment conducive to restoring stability for the benefit of the citizens in the region, by revisiting the export policy of weapons and security devices.

The EU has to act quickly on its declarations of support for “a genuine democratic transition” and act before the forthcoming Tunisian and Egyptian elections. The extraordinary Summit of Heads of State and Government of the European Union on the situation in Libya and North Africa on 11 March 2011 provides a timely opportunity to discuss these and other measures to support the democratic transitions in Southern Mediterranean countries.
The Summit should also strengthen the voice of the European Union and deliver a strong political message in explicit support of the efforts initiated by Southern Mediterranean populations to enter a new phase of democratization.

Striking how many people were genuinely surprised by the massive eloquence of Egyptian women. Their strength and their determination really wish to participate to the changes in their country. This amazement was sincere but a sign that there is a shortage of insight into the real lives of men and women in the Arab world.
Goals of the Arab spring can be formulated as more freedom, more dignity and a better chance of a dignified future (employment) and are closely associated with the exact relationship between men and women. Because there is a second revolution yet to come in the Arab world: a social cultural revolution where people can really live another way to deal with each other
.

It should go well with Egypt, also in relation to the rest of the region. Parliamentary elections at the end of 2011 were an enormous step forward. There is a sound of moral obligation to go at the table with each other.

DON't FEAR the MIDDLE EAST's NEW WAVE

Published on : 16/02/2011, The Guardian

The entire Arab world is witnessing a tectonic shift. There is a fragile, if for many sublime, expectation that democracy may now spread in our region. At the same time, the prospect of Arab self-determination has left some uneasy. One of the defining characteristics over the last 18 days of protest in Cairo is that no one has been able to predict what would happen next. But today some things can be said with certainty.

The first is that there is no going back. A new generation has come of age. Creativity, new communication technologies and the use of rational peaceful protest have restored Arab self-esteem. Cairo concluded what Tunisia had hinted at: that decades of realpolitik had failed. It seems to have united east and west in the understanding that true security begins with the dignity of the human being, and is based upon what we often refer to as hurriya, or "freedom".

While in Jordan the youth element may not be as evident, protesters still call for inclusivity, and seek participation in a body politic and within a wider national platform. With the government change here objectives are being discussed regarding what I call the "social contract", and a politics which needs to become more normalised than radicalised. Such voices are being heeded, because almost everyone here understands that the credibility and security of the country depends upon it. Recent events have shown that men and women make their own history, and are capable of controlling their own destinies. Unfortunately in our region this has not always been self-evident. It is now. Rather than fearing this "new wave", Arab governments should embrace it.

It's time to put Humpty Dumpty back together again. The Mumbai-based Strategic Foresight Group has calculated that, between 1991 and 2010, constant war and conflict has cost the region $12 trillion in lost opportunity. A new architecture of relations is urgently required to replace the ad-hoc structures of the past.

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Co-operation can be achieved in three ways. The first is what I refer to as a zakat or "responsibility" fund, collected and distributed regionally, in order to create more integrated economic development – just as the Marshall plan did for postwar Europe. The giving of alms is an Islamic pillar of faith. It is an obligation. So too should be its distribution – on an equitable, institutional and trans-border basis.

Second, we need a supranational Community for Water and Energy for the Human Environment – an Arab equivalent of the European Coal and Steel Community established by Robert Schuman and Jean Monnet in 1950. Our water resources and woes are shared – water has no respect for national boundaries. The Jordan river, one of the most complex and contested waterways in the world, has four riparian parties – Lebanon, Syria, Israel and Palestine. At the same time a global energy and water belt extends from the central Asian republics down the Volga through Turkey to the Strait of Hormuz. It can no longer be protected solely by military forces guarding the ports of the Persian Gulf. Our security is constantly undermined by our energy interdependence and dependence, and time is running out.

Finally, it is time to convene a Semi-Permanent Conference for Peace based in the region and modelled on the Conference for Security and Cooperation in Europe and the three baskets of the Helsinki Process – co-operation in security, economy and humanitarian issues.

These are my thoughts in parenthesis, as we consider an Arabia no less complex but far more pregnant with possibility … a new psychological landscape. To paraphrase George Marshall, a place "that hangs in the balance as to what it is to be". The scales of justice have been tipped. The arc of history no longer bends towards reform. It insists on it.