Middle East and North Africa


  • Make-believe in the Med: Europe’s new Libya mission (Commentary)

    Tarek Megerisi - 20 February 2020

    Without aerial power, the ‘new Operation Sophia’ will simply upset Turkey and encourage the UAE and Haftar to go for total victory in Tripoli.

    The UN is right to track businesses in Israeli settlements (Commentary)

    Hugh Lovatt - 18 February 2020

    A disinformation campaign against a new UN database aims to legitimise the Israeli settler movement and those who illegally profit from it.
     

    Cover: Trump’s “Deal of the Century” debunked: is there something in it for Palestine at

    Trump’s “Deal of the Century” debunked: is there something in it for Palestine at all?

    When US-President Donal Trump revealed his much-awaited plan for peace for Israel and Palestine it was set to solve one of the world's longest-running conflict. But this “deal of the century” was not met with the same enthusiasm in Palestine as it was seen on Trump’s and Netanyahu’s faces – to say the least. Host Mark Leonard and our MENA experts Hugh Lovatt and René Wildangel are analysing in depth the “Peace Plan” and show how little there is actually in it for the Palestinians. “The proposal clearly challenges the internationally agreed parameters,” said the EU’s chief diplomat Josep Borrell. But what can and should Europe do beyond statements?
    Further read: From negotiation to imposition: Trump’s Israel-Palestine parameters by Hugh Lovatt

    This podcast was recorded on 12 February 2020.

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    Idlib chaos: The latest test for Turkish-Russian ties (Commentary)

    Asli Aydıntaşbaş - 12 February 2020

    Turkey and Syria are now at war – but the ultimate arbiter of what happens next is likely to be Vladimir Putin.

    Reformists are dispirited and hard-liners resurgent ahead of Iran’s election (Commentary)

    Ellie Geranmayeh - 11 February 2020

    Some elected officials in Tehran are concerned that the security forces are gaining too much control over the political decision-making process. But reformists have been stymied by missteps of their own, as well as by US policy.

    From negotiation to imposition: Trump’s Israel-Palestine parameters (Commentary)

    Hugh Lovatt - 11 February 2020

    Comparing the US “peace plan” for Israel-Palestine with ECFR’s own work on future parameters illuminates how Donald Trump is departing from longstanding international consensus positions.

    War and pieces: Political divides in southern Yemen

    Lunch discussion to mark the launch of ECFR's newest paper "War and pieces: Political divides in southern Yemen". 

    International attention to the Yemeni conflict has shifted in recent months from the Saudi-led war against the Houthis in the north and west of the country to a major clash within the anti-Houthi coalition between the UAE supported Southern Transitional Council’s forces and those of the coalition supported internationally recognised government of President Hadi. The Saudi sponsored Riyadh Agreement to solve this crisis has faced major difficulties and many questions remain unanswered, particularly the role of the UAE. Meanwhile the UN remains out of the southern debates and has failed to revive talks since the December 2018 Stockholm agreement.  By contrast, European Union and member states leaders are taking notable initiatives in Yemen which may help towards some progress both with the implementation of Riyadh and more widely on the war situation. 

    Following on the recently published ECFR paper War and pieces, political divides in southern Yemen,  the authors presented the findings of their report and discuss other relevant recent developments. Saleh al Batati acted as discussant to the points made in the talk and the paper.

    • Raiman Al-Hamdani is a consultant at DeepRoot Consulting, specialising on human development, local communities and indigenous peace-making methods. Raiman is a Visiting Fellow in ECFR's MENA Programme. 
    • Helen Lackner is an independent researcher and has worked in Yemen since the 1970s. Her latest book is Yemen in Crisis (UK edition 2017, US edition 2019, Arabic forthcoming 2020). Helen is a Visiting Fellow in ECFR's MENA Programme. 
    • Saleh al-Batati is a Journalist Fellow at the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, a Yemeni journalist and a 2019 News and Documentary Emmy Award winner. In 2019, al-Batati served as south Yemen director responsible for key leader surveys for Pechter Polls of Princeton. 
    • Ellie Geranmayeh is the Deputy Director ofthe Middle East and North Africa Programme at ECFR. Ellie leads on the MENA programme's Iran portfolio, specialising in European policy in relation to Iran, particularly on the nuclear and regional dossiers. She most recently wrote about the killing of Soleimani in the POLITICO article “Crisis in Iran will drive wedge between Europe and Washington”.

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    Reboot time: Operation Sophia and Italy’s tortuous Libya policy (Commentary)

    Arturo Varvelli - 07 February 2020

    A new mandate for Operation Sophia could be just what the Italian government is looking for – but much will depend on what the lead players in Libya do next.

    Insecurity in the Sahel: Europe’s next fight against jihadism (Commentary)

    Andrew Lebovich - 05 February 2020

    The G5 Sahel has an excessive focus on security issues, as this has come at the expense of the political and governance issues it must deal with to truly stabilise the region.

    Counterfeit change: Lebanon’s new government (Commentary)

    Kareem Chehayeb - 04 February 2020

    Even if the new government intends to introduce significant reforms, the elite will more than likely block any measures that challenge entrenched interests.

  • Cover: Trump’s “Deal of the Century” debunked: is there something in it for Palestine at

    Trump’s “Deal of the Century” debunked: is there something in it for Palestine at all?

    When US-President Donal Trump revealed his much-awaited plan for peace for Israel and Palestine it was set to solve one of the world's longest-running conflict. But this “deal of the century” was not met with the same enthusiasm in Palestine as it was seen on Trump’s and Netanyahu’s faces – to say the least. Host Mark Leonard and our MENA experts Hugh Lovatt and René Wildangel are analysing in depth the “Peace Plan” and show how little there is actually in it for the Palestinians. “The proposal clearly challenges the internationally agreed parameters,” said the EU’s chief diplomat Josep Borrell. But what can and should Europe do beyond statements?
    Further read: From negotiation to imposition: Trump’s Israel-Palestine parameters by Hugh Lovatt

    This podcast was recorded on 12 February 2020.

    Bookshelf:

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    War and pieces: Political divides in southern Yemen

    Lunch discussion to mark the launch of ECFR's newest paper "War and pieces: Political divides in southern Yemen". 

    International attention to the Yemeni conflict has shifted in recent months from the Saudi-led war against the Houthis in the north and west of the country to a major clash within the anti-Houthi coalition between the UAE supported Southern Transitional Council’s forces and those of the coalition supported internationally recognised government of President Hadi. The Saudi sponsored Riyadh Agreement to solve this crisis has faced major difficulties and many questions remain unanswered, particularly the role of the UAE. Meanwhile the UN remains out of the southern debates and has failed to revive talks since the December 2018 Stockholm agreement.  By contrast, European Union and member states leaders are taking notable initiatives in Yemen which may help towards some progress both with the implementation of Riyadh and more widely on the war situation. 

    Following on the recently published ECFR paper War and pieces, political divides in southern Yemen,  the authors presented the findings of their report and discuss other relevant recent developments. Saleh al Batati acted as discussant to the points made in the talk and the paper.

    • Raiman Al-Hamdani is a consultant at DeepRoot Consulting, specialising on human development, local communities and indigenous peace-making methods. Raiman is a Visiting Fellow in ECFR's MENA Programme. 
    • Helen Lackner is an independent researcher and has worked in Yemen since the 1970s. Her latest book is Yemen in Crisis (UK edition 2017, US edition 2019, Arabic forthcoming 2020). Helen is a Visiting Fellow in ECFR's MENA Programme. 
    • Saleh al-Batati is a Journalist Fellow at the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, a Yemeni journalist and a 2019 News and Documentary Emmy Award winner. In 2019, al-Batati served as south Yemen director responsible for key leader surveys for Pechter Polls of Princeton. 
    • Ellie Geranmayeh is the Deputy Director ofthe Middle East and North Africa Programme at ECFR. Ellie leads on the MENA programme's Iran portfolio, specialising in European policy in relation to Iran, particularly on the nuclear and regional dossiers. She most recently wrote about the killing of Soleimani in the POLITICO article “Crisis in Iran will drive wedge between Europe and Washington”.

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    Cover: The Berlin Libya Conference: a moment to shine for European foreign policy?

    The Berlin Libya Conference: a moment to shine for European foreign policy?

    Anthony Dworkin stands in for our usual host, Mark Leonard, to de-brief the Berlin Conference on Libya. Together with the ECFR’s experts Asli Aydıntaşbaş, Tarek Megerisi and Arturo Varvelli, he discusses Europe’s attempt to get back in the game in Libya after the country has been torn apart by many foreign forces and players. They evaluate the conference’s turnout and analyse the final agreements – while also looking at another question: what does this all say about European foreign policy?

    This podcast was recorded on 23 January 2020.

    Bookshelf:

    Further read on ecfr.eu
    - Views from the capitals: The Libya conference in Berlin
    - A chance for leadership: German foreign policy after the killing of Qassem Soleimani by René Wildangel
    - How Italy was marginalised in Libya by Mattia Giampaolo
    - How to repair Europe’s credibility in Libya by Tarek Megerisi

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    Iran-US: Preventing a Collision Course

    ECFR, in partnership with the Friedrich-Ebert-Foundation (FES), invited to a discussion on “Iran-US: Preventing a Collision Course” on 21 January.
    Following a series of attacks in Iraq that culminated in the assassination of Qassem Soleimani and missile attacks against airbases hosting the U.S. military, Iran and the United States have reached a peak of military escalation under the Trump administration. European leaders have called for urgent restraint and offered to engage in a diplomatic process to reduce tensions.

    Moderator: Ellie Geranmayeh (Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at ECFR)

    Discussants: David Jalilvand (CEO of Orient Matters); Bijan Khajehpour (economist and an expert on the geopolitics of energy); Adnan Tabatabai (co-founder and CEO of CARPO – Center for Applied Research in Partnership with the Orient);

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    Cover: De “facto declaration of war”? - Soleimani’s killing as turning point in the Middle East

    De "facto declaration of war"? - Soleimani's killing as turning point in the Middle East

    With the US-killing of the Iranian military leader, Qassem Soleimani, the Middle East has been yet again sent in the heart to geopolitical uncertainty and frenzy. What does the killing mean for the future of the region, the Iran Nuclear Deal and the US role within it? Was there a strategy behind this offence and if yes, what kind? How should Europe react? In a special podcast edition, Mark Leonard talks with our senior policy fellows Ellie Geranmayeh, Jeremy Shapiro and Julien Barnes-Dacey about the implications for the neighbouring countries, Europe’s mediation role and whether there is a chance for de-escalation.

    This podcast was recorded on 6 January 2020.

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    Cover: Iran: Calculating the cost of US sanctions

    Iran: Calculating the cost of US sanctions

    Over a year into the Trump administration's "maximum pressure" campaign against Iran, the re-imposition of sanctions have not only placed in jeopardy the Iran nuclear deal, but also hit the Iranian economy.
    The panel consisting of Esfandyar Batmanghelidj(Founder, Bourse & Bazaar), David Ramin Jalilvand(CEO, Orient Matters), Tara Sepheri Far(Iran Researcher, Human Rights Watch and chaired by Ellie Geranmayeh (Deputy Head of the MENA Programme, ECFR) looked at all the costs associated with the US sanctions policy including the impact on ordinary Iranians, the Iranian leadership and how this ties into the recent wave of protests across the country.
    The event on 3rd December considered the impact of the US sanctions on trade between Europe and Iran, particularly in the humanitarian sector.

    Recorded on 3 December 2019 in Berlin.

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    Cover: Yemen - Seizing the moment of oppurtunity?

    Yemen - Seizing the moment of oppurtunity?

    Recording of the Lunch Discussion analysing Yemen's role in the current Gulf crisis and how recent regional developments will have an impact on the UN-coordinated peace process.

    Almost a year after the widely praised UN-sponsored Stockholm Agreement, there have been significant changes in the Yemeni war but peace appears no nearer. Focus has shifted away from the Hodeida front, leading to the UAE’s military disengagement from Yemen, and leaving Saudi Arabia in sole charge of the war at a time when finding an appropriate response to the September attacks on ARAMCO remains its priority. Within Yemen itself, in recent months, military action and negotiations have concentrated on the summer’s developments in the South, and Saudi attempts to solve the impasse created by southern separatist takeover of Aden, revealing serious differences between the two main members of the Saudi-led coalition.

    Our speakers addressed the role Yemen plays in the overall Gulf crisis, including Gulf States perspectives resulting from US volatility, recent and potential developments in the UN-coordinated peace process and the implications of recent internal events in the country.

    Recorded on 14 November 2019.

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    Cover: Iran & the US escalation game - What Europe can do?

    Iran & the US escalation game - What Europe can do?

    In this episode, live from Brussels, Ellie Geranmayeh is standing in for our host Mark Leonard to discuss Iran’s further withdrawal from the 2015 Nuclear Agreement. 
    After the Iran Strategy Meeting meeting, she met with Hossein Mousavian (Princeton University), Ilan Goldenberg (Center for a New American Security) and Nasser Hadian (University of Teheran) to analyse the responses coming from the US and European governments, in particular from France. By marking the 40th anniversary of the Iran Hostage Crisis, they look back on how this has shaped the Iran-US relations in the past 4 years. Moreover, after one year, how has the re-imposition of the US sanction impacted Iran domestically? 

    This podcast was recorded on 6 November 2019.

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    Cover: After Baghdadi is before Baghdadi: How the West still has to fight ISIS

    After Baghdadi is before Baghdadi: How the West still has to fight ISIS

    How will IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s killing impact ISIS as a terror organisation and the situation in Syria? Host Mark Leonard is joined by Anthony Dworkin and Asli Aydıntaşbaş to analyse the current events and political implications for Syria’s neighbouring countries, the US and the EU. As the European Union has failed to come up with a coherent policy on how to handle their citizens who travelled to join ISIS, they argue it would still be best, to bring them home and to try them there. But how could the EU member states go ahead with the process?

    Further read: "Beyond good and evil: Why Europe should bring ISIS foreign fighters home" by Anthony Dworkin

    The podcast was recorded on 30 October 2019.

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    Cover: Europe with no cards to play: Erdoğan, Trump, and Europe’s weaknesses

    Europe with no cards to play: Erdoğan, Trump, and Europe's weaknesses

    Turkey's offensive into northeast Syria is moving at an unprecedented pace with grave consequences. Europe's utter irrelevance in the face of US withdrawal from the Turkish/Syrian border has been thrown in to stark light, particularly as it fails to take responsibility for European Isis members in the region. Europes weakness on migration and the refugee crisis as a whole has also been highlighted. What can and should Europe do at this crisis point? As events unfold, Asli Aydıntaşbaş, senior policy fellow with the Wider Europe programme joins host Mark Leonard from Turkey. Mark is also joined by head of ECFR's MENA programme, Julien Barnes-Dacey. Jeremy Shapiro, our research director, provides insight into Trump and Erdoğan's relationship breakdown and what US foreign policy under Trump may continue to look like.

    This podcast was recorded on 10 October 2019.

    Bookshelf:
    "The Fall of the Ottomans: The Great War in the Middle East, 1914-1920" By Eugene Rogan
    "The Noise of Time" by Julien Barnes
    "Chimera" by Alexandros Yannis
    Details of the text message sent by a No.10 source to the Spectator

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    Cover: Meddling or Bargaining? - Emmanuel Macron’s Iran Initiative

    Meddling or Bargaining? - Emmanuel Macron's Iran Initiative

    This week, ECFR director Mark Leonard discusses with experts Ellie Geranmayeh and Julien Barnes-Dacey the French president Emmanuel Macron's bold initiative: Europeans are now to explore a credit line for Iran to entice the sanctions-battered country to keep abiding by an international nuclear deal. But the US and president Trump are sceptical.

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    The podcast was recorded on 6 September 2019.

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    Towards a new Saudi hyper-nationalism?

    Le podcast de notre discussion du mardi 9 juillet « Vers un nouvel hyper-nationalisme saoudien ? », en présence de Eman Al-Hussein, chercheuse associée à l’ECFR, de Fatiha Dazi-Heni, chercheuse à l'Institut de recherche stratégique de l'École militaire (IRSEM)et de Camille Lons coordinatrice du programme Moyen-Orient Afrique du Nord de l’ECFR.

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