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The Middle East and North Africa: Change and Upheaval 2015

Strategic Security Analysis - 2015 n°11

Release Date:

November 2015

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Key Points

  • The failure of the state and the failure of governance combine with the rise of non-state actors, notably the Islamic State, to further compound the filling of a vacuum in the region.
  • The Islamic State has emerged as a potent force because it has been able to provide and offer protection to people who are feeling highly vulnerable.
  • The Sunni-Shia divide is growing, exacerbating both regional and domestic splits.
  • The idea of the Middle East as separate from the rest of the world remains a non-starter, and globalisation remains a tremendous influence.
  • The transitory result of the post-Arab Spring is high securitisation of domestic political processes in which choices of whom to support are often based on choosing the lesser evil.
  • The zero-sum game in the Levant played out with the Assad regime displaying no willingness to relent any aspects of its power.
  • The successful conclusion of the nuclear talks has given President Rouhani an important domestic boost while the U.S. signalled a shift from regime change to changing regime behaviour.