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Abstract

The paper presents the challenges to stability arising in the MENA region and having a possible impact on Western peace and security. It identifies the regional actors' efforts to maximize their power, Russia's revisionist efforts, China's ambitions, as well as the phenomena (or asymmetric threats) of migration and terrorism. The paper focuses on the competition of power and concludes that the strategic value of the region around the South Eastern Mediterranean has increased, that Western states should determine and coordinate their policies, and their institutions should increase their efforts and presence, cooperating, among others, with other pro-Western countries in the region.

Introduction 

The purpose of this paper is to discuss the short- and long-term challenges to Western security, appearing in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.1 To do so I am going to present the policies of both regional and international actors, who, as they compete for power and hegemony in the region, endanger peace and stability. In my opinion the reasons of the current instability remain systemic, non-domestic, and in no case due to religious antagonisms. After all, in Syria, Iraq, or Libya, no-one is fighting over the issue who is the rightful successor to Prophet Mohammed, but over who is going to control, partially or totally, these three states.

This approach, focusing on power competition, is rather a traditional one. It distances itself, however, from the two dominant and often aphoristic tendencies that are usually adopted by some of the political literature and the press in order to understand these issues and analyse the events of this region. The first claims that the basic cause of what is happening in the region is a competition for energy resources (hydrocarbons), provided by the simplistic approach of geography to international politics, usually supported with maps and (often imaginary) plans for pipelines. The second approach focuses on intra- or inter-faith hate and clashes. It claims that the cause of the instability in the region is religion, appearing both as a competition between the two dominant Muslim denominations, Sunni and Shia Islam, and as an effort of some of their factions to wage a war against the infidels of the region and, more generally, of the West. 

Obviously, in my perspective, both explanations are essentially inadequate as they focus on the partial and not the general... Download the paper

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