His Excellency Christian Meuwly, Ambassador and Head of the Swiss Mission to NATO opened the event welcoming the participants and explaining the purpose of this exchange of views and sharing of analysis.
Following the presentation by GCSP Director Christian Dussey of the Centre and its work, the delegates held a roundtable discussion on the current trends and security policy challenges in the Middle East and North Africa. GCSP Deputy Director and Academic Dean Professor Mohammad-Mahmoud Ould Mohamedou opened the discussion with a presentation assessing the nature of the transformation in the region since 2011.
Over the past years, the area has entered an important phase of its history marked by profound transformation. Such change is playing out across the board. This is generating a lot of questioning about the direction and nature of the transformation, but also, for partners, how to engage with this.
Professor Mohamedou noted three key dynamics: the 'rupture' moment of the Arab Spring (opening possibilities of a new social contract and kick-starting transitions), the mirrored combination of weakened states and strengthened groups (characterised by the proliferation of a new generation of sub-state actors generating insecurity), and non-optimal cooperation (in the phase of new and complex challenges).
GCSP Fellow Dr Jean-Marc Rickli followed turning his attention to the shifts taking place in the Gulf. He noted the security dilemmas arising at three different levels in the region, namely domestic challenges, regional tensions, and conflicts (taking the form of proxy wars) and the international reverberations of this newfound tension.
The moderator then chaired the ensuing discussion with the room with questions raised notably on how partners can engage with these developments, the role of social media, the missed socioeconomic opportunities for the region, the place of the Palestinian question and the absence of a peace process, the migration and refugee issue, the role of leadership and NATO cooperation programmes in the region.
The roundtable gathered some 60 participants, permanent representations, heads of missions, defense advisors from 28 NATO member states and other partners.