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The aim of this work is to set the conceptual architecture for the MENARA Project. It is articulated in five thematic sections. The first one traces back the major historical junctures in which key powers shaped the defining features of the present-day MENA region. Section 2 sets the geographical scope of the project, maps the distribution of power and defines regional order and its main features. Section 3 focuses on the domestic orders in a changing region by gauging and tracing the evolution of four trends, namely the erosion of state capacity; the securitization of regime policies; the militarization of contention; and the pluralization of collective identities. Section 4 links developments in the global order to their impact on the region in terms of power, ideas, norms and identities. The last section focuses on foresight studies and proposes a methodology to project trends and build scenarios. All sections, as well as the conclusion, formulate specific research questions that should help us understand the emerging geopolitical order in the MENA.

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(László Csicsmann, Erzsébet N. Rózsa and Máté Szalai)

The paper aims at revealing the current nature of the interactions between the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region and the global order. The authors argue that this relationship can be divided into three separate issues: global actors, which influence (and are influenced by) regional developments, primarily the USA, China, Russia and the European Union; contentious issues (such as borders and mobility, trans-nationalization, norms of proliferation and energy market tendencies) which effect international and transnational relations; and global integration dynamics (in the political, economic and technological spheres) which determine the extent to which the states and societies of the MENA region participate in and shape the process of globalization. The paper introduces a number of research questions to guide further research in the different fields.

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The EU and the Iran Nuclear Deal: How to Proceed?

(N. Rózsa Erzsébet)

Trump steered the USA away from the diplomatic framework of the nuclear deal in yet an other blow to the transatlantic alliance. Indeed the JCPOA represents a landmark achievement for the European Union, a sign of its ability to affect the global stage as a complementary as well as autonomous voice vis-à-vis the US. So far, the deal has been successful in strengthening EU–Iran ties on different levels: the EU could assert essential moral standards and tame vital security issues while Iran was able to preserve the regime and emerge as a credible regional partner. Economically, cooperation has not moved as fast as expected but the JCPOA remains the most promising launch pad for a growing exchange. Even though the EU stood firmly on the legitimacy of the JCPOA, much uncertainty surrounds the kickback of American secondary sanctions and the possibility to keep delivering the terms of the deal.

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Russian Policies Towards the MENA Region

(László Póti)

Russia wields its influence in pursuit of important state interests. As in the Soviet era, contemporary Russia declares ambitious goals and pursues them in a desperate effort to play a decisive role in world politics. The overall objective of Russian foreign policy is to become a world power, and gaining influence over the MENA region is a means to achieving that end. As is clearly expressed in strategic documents, Russia considers the MENA region a priority domain for extensive diplomatic activity. The Kremlin’s MENA policy incorporates a critically important premise, non-interventionism, that is attractive to the region’s autocratic regimes, which resist Western-style liberal “interventionist” democracy. Russia’s influence on these countries is increasingly strong due to its (1) de-ideologized approach, (2) assistance (in the form of long-term loans) in the construction of nuclear power plants as well as arms supplies, and (3) anti-American stance, reflecting Arab and Iranian (Islamic) interests

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Middle East and North Africa Regional Architecture: Global Actors, Contentious Issues and Integration Dynamics (Special Issue of the Foreign Policy Review)

This Special Issue of the Foreign Policy Review is dedicated to the MENARA project conducted in the H2020 framework of the European Union with the participation of fourteen institutions, led by the CIDOB in Barcelona. The MENARA (“lighthouse” in Arabic) – the acronym for the Middle East and North Africa Regional Architecture – studies the geopolitical order in the making, identifies the driving forces behind it, sheds light on bottom-up dynamics, and assesses the implications of these processes on the EU and its policies towards the region.

The full volume is available here!