Arab Geopolitics 2020. The Middle East: what kind of future?
Working Meeting – November 12, 2020, Rome
Organised by the NATO Defense College Foundation
In co-operation with the NATO Political Affairs and Security Policy Division
and the Euro-Gulf Information Centre
Topics of Discussion
The working meeting is essentially a discussion mechanism that aims at examining, on the backdrop of a political and strategic situation further detailed, four relevant subjects among practitioners at international level:
- The present role and potential improvements of NATO partnerships in the area (MD and ICI);
- Security interests in the area spanning from Mauritania to the Gulf;
- The possible role of major Allies\ EU members in shaping adapted security policies in the Southern Region, also vis-à-vis the renewed Russian presence in the Mediterranean;
- Possible short-medium term future scenarios requiring a NATO and EU response.
Over the last months, the MENA region has been shaken by major events that pose a challenge to the entire area and have the potential to redefine the geopolitical order.
At the beginning of this year, the Coronavirus pandemic further exacerbated social, economic and political conditions in the area. Civil protests, ongoing in Algeria, Iraq and Lebanon, asking for the renovation of the political élite and sustainable economic changes, were forced to an end.
Gulf countries accumulated unquantifiable debts and were obliged to cut their public spending due to the lack of revenue from low oil demand and low prices. It represents another risk for the destabilisation of the region but, at the same time, an opportunity to reflect on the diversification of energy resources, involving the entire Euro-Mediterranean area, as a key element towards the achievement of regional reconstruction and sustainable development.
This persistent uncertainty has been increased by the vacuum left by the United States that encouraged other major external actors to influence the region prioritising perceived national interests rather than international stability. Recently, the Abraham Accords, expected to normalise diplomatic relations between Israel and some of the Gulf country, still have to be measured against concrete development, leaving open some questions on the emerging geopolitical developments vis-à-vis an isolated Iran.
The evolving role of the Alliance as well as the European Union has to be rethought and analysed in this volatile and fragmented context.
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