Mediterranean in Transition: New Emerging Regional Dynamics?
05 novembre 2013
Mediterranean in Transition:
New Emerging Regional Dynamics?
The Arab Awakening has triggered deep changes and added instability to an already troubled area. In a region in turmoil, political transitions in North African countries are proving to be complex and long-term processes, while relations between states are evolving and new geopolitical dynamics are shaking old patterns, above all in the Middle East. Although some trends and realignments are emerging, it is not clear which path they will follow and how they will shape the regional equilibrium and balance of power. In particular, the Syrian conflict is impacting negatively on neighbouring countries and exacerbating sectarian ten- dencies, which have become more evident since the US occupation of Iraq in 2003. Syria has turned out to be the main "battlefield" of Sunni-Shi'a rivalry, which has both geopolitical and religious dimensions.
As a consequence of the Arab uprisings, the Mediterranean region has witnessed the rise of political Islam in different forms ranging from the Muslim Brotherhood to the various typologies of Salafism. However, the government experience of Islamist parties linked to the Muslim Brother- hood failed in Egypt - where President Morsi was removed and the Freedom and Justice Party ousted from the political arena - and was questioned in Tunisia.
In spite of the recent setbacks, political Islam remains the best way for different social groups to express their public existence. At the economic level, no new dynamics seem to be emerging: most of the factors that were at the origin of the protests and unrest continue to persist. Dismantling the pillars of the 'authoritarian economic model' is the conditio sine qua non for a new socio-economic order.
The Arab uprisings have so far brought little change to the pattern of relations among countries of the MENA region. There has been no dramatic realignment of countries. Rather, the turmoil has largely confirmed old patterns, although making cleavages deeper and some relations even closer.
Sectarian tendencies and antagonisms grew into levels previously unknown in the modern Middle East. They were exacerbated by conflicts in Iraq, Syria, Bahrain and Lebanon, and by the social and political uprisings following the Arab Spring.
The political process in the MENA region known as the Arab Spring (which began with the Tunisian uprising of 2010/11) led to the Islamist parties' rise to power. This was a logical consequence of the political balance within Arab Spring countries.
Much of the debate over the "Arab transitions" has focused on politics and often on polarized views of "Islamists" and "secularists" and their divergence over core values, identity and other socio-cultural issues. The economics of the "Arab transitions" has mostly concentrated on short-term consequences of the uprisings.