• 12th GCSP/Crown Center/GRC Annual Conference: 'The Middle East and North Africa: Change and Upheaval 2014'

    GCSP Policy Paper 2014/3

    GCSP Policy Paper 2014/3  

    Dr Christian Koch

    July 2014 View this publication

    Key Points
    • The Middle East is going through a profound period of transformation accompanied by widespread violence. Due to the deep crisis of the nation-state, overlapping lines of confrontation have come together to produce a high degree of volatility.
    • The erosion of leverage, power and influence of domestic, regional and external actors, the increased inability of traditional state actors to change or deal with regional events and developments, and the continued rise of non-state actors marked by their unfettered use of violence, poses the most direct threat to the regional system and the integrity of its member states.
    • There are no winners within the regional environment nor are there clear answers as to the expected future trajectories that events in the Middle East will take. Instead, what is clear is that the Middle East region will experience a prolonged period of instability.
    • The political transition that numerous countries in the Middle East have experienced are defined by the different levels of commitment by regime elites to the principles of dialogue, inclusion and compromise rather than specific structural factors. This can be seen with regard to Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Syria and Iraq.
    • In terms of the nuclear negotiations between the P5+1 and Iran, if the two sides are able to come to an agreement on limiting Iran’s nuclear breakout capability, the momentum might lead to more tacit cooperation on regional affairs especially between Iran and the US. This, however, seems less likely than a stalemate on the nuclear issue and continued indirect rivalry regionally.
    • For Israel, the Palestinian issue has been downgraded as a security issue and replaced with Iran as the only existential threat currently on the table. Overall, inside Israel solving the Arab-Israeli issue is no longer seen as the key to solving other regional issues.