Hamas' brutal attack on Israel has brought the Middle East back into the consciousness of the global public. For decades, the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians has been one of the world's trouble spots, but recently it had taken a back seat to other conflicts in the region (protests in Iran, civil wars in Syria and Yemen) and outside (Russia's wars in Ukraine and between Armenia and Azerbaijan). The surprise attack from Gaza now shows that the conflict over Palestine remains active and dangerous.
The hopes of the West had rested on the cautious approach of Arab states (United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco, Sudan, and most recently Saudi Arabia) with Israel. However, this approach was based on a power calculation by governments that ignores the simmering intra- and interstate conflicts in North Africa and the Middle East. In addition to the Palestinian conflict, the problems of the Kurds in Syria, Turkey, Iraq and Iran, the Arabs in Iran, the Shiites in the Gulf, the Amāziġ (formerly called 'Berbers') in the Maghreb states, the militias in Libya and the various confessional groups in Lebanon remain unresolved. This is also because no country in the region has developed democratic mechanisms of compromise.
In general, all the grievances that led to protests and even revolutions in Iran in 2010 and in the Arab states from 2011 onward continue to exist: This phenomenon, initially called the "Arab Spring," has brought neither better living conditions for the mass of the population, nor social justice, nor freedom and democracy. On the contrary, several Arab countries sank into civil wars, while in others authoritarian regimes consolidated their power or were replaced by new rulers.
In a research and advisory project funded by the BMZ, the German Institute of Development and Sustainability (IDOS) is investigating what these changes mean for Germany's and Europe's cooperation with MENA countries.
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The German Institute of Development and Sustainability (IDOS) is member of the Forum Euro-Méditerranée des Instituts de Sciences Economiques.