The Islamic State (IS, or ISIS or ISIL) in Libya controls the coastal strip around the central city, Sirte, from Bu’ayrat al Hasun to Bin Jawad and down south to the vicinity of the Jufra oasis. In Benghazi the battle-hardened jihadists are part of the backbone of the resistance against General Heftar’s Operation Dignity. The group is also present in training camps to the south of Sabratha. Several smaller cells exist in Tripoli, Khoms and other coastal cities of Tripolitania.
Only a full and proper understanding of the root causes for the crisis affecting the southern Mediterranean and the Middle East – with dramatic consequences for the rise of IS as a terrorist threat as well as for immigration flows – will allow officials to identify appropriate policy options to tackle such a crisis.
Belgium is the main center of homegrown jihadism in Europe. Having been the base of the terrorist cell Sharia4Belgium, it witnesses a constant growth of foreign fighters coming back from Syria with strong and extremist ideology. It is not a case that this phenomenon regards mostly the 3rd generation of migrants: there are concrete problems of unemployment, discrimination and housing, that concern many neighbourhoods of the main cities in Belgium.
Although 56 per cent of Turkish public opinion does not support Turkish foreign policy regarding Syria, due to the way Turkish government managed the human crisis (and spent its money), the population agrees on the necessity on persisting to solve this problematic situation. And thus does Europe. Following the Summit of EU leaders on October 15th, German Chancellor Angela Merkel took an emergency trip to Turkey, where she needed to recruit the Turkish side to stop the flood.
Since the end of September, the French air force extended the scope of its operations to Syria. This is a true strategic inflection but Paris, as its allies, still demands the ousting of Bashar Al-Assad.
The agreement reached in Vienna on 14 July, 2015 between Iran and the P5+1 (United States, Russia, China, France, United Kingdom, Germany) has been greeted as an historical achievement. While offering a long-lasting negotiated solution to one of the biggest crises of the last decade, the deal represents an opportunity for a deep recalibration of the balance of power in the Middle East. It also paves the way to some sort of rapprochement between Iran and the United States. But the deal is also likely to have an impact on Iranian domestic politics, not least on its economy, which, after repeated rounds of sanctions, languishes in deep crisis.
This report aims to assess the potential effects of the deal by trying to answer the following question: what’s next for Iran, the Middle East and the countries involved in the negotiations? In particular, the report provides an assessment of the JCPOA agreed upon in Vienna. It also analyzes the impact of the deal on Iranian domestic politics as well as the consequences for its economy. In addition, it examines its effects on the balance of power in the Middle East, as well as on relations between Iran and the United States, and Iran and Russia. Finally a number of policy recommendations for the EU are provided.
Over the last years the Gulf monarchies have emerged as assertive players both in the MENA region and in the global context. Relying on their huge energy reserves and financial assets, these states acquired increasing international leverage. On the one hand, the oil monarchies moved eastwards exploiting the opportunity provided by emerging Asian markets to diversify their energy relations and economic interests. On the other, in the wake of the Arab uprisings they adopted a more proactive approach that dramatically altered their influence in the region. Nonetheless, Gulf activism comes at a time when the monarchies are facing important internal and external challenges.
In this complex puzzle, the report aims to assess to what extent the rising Gulf monarchies are able to play as key actors both at the regional and the international levels. Are these monarchies adopting sustainable domestic policies in the long-term? How have they extended their influence in the MENA region? How are they reshaping their international relations? How do they act in the world energy market? What are the implications of the Gulf’s new assertiveness for the EU?