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Middle East and North Africa

The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Programme at The Swedish Institute of International Affairs (UI) conducts research and analysis on relevant political, economic and social issues related to the region.

The MENA Programme aims to be a hub for Swedish and international actors in research, analysis and media covering the MENA region. The programme strives to provide the Swedish and international community with knowledge about relevant political, economic and social matters.

Developments and challenges in the MENA often tend to have a global dimension. Conflicts between as well as within states, natural resources, a vast number of authoritarian regimes, non-state actors and terrorist organizations add to a complex situation. In spite of huge differences between countries they have an overall young population yearning for societal and economic change.

The programme has two focus areas which are yet to be developed. They focus on the development in Syria and other Middle Eastern conflicts, plus the social transformation in the MENA region as well as the integration between Europe and the Mediterranean region.

Conflict and Geopolitics
This first focus area deals with the larger geopolitical struggles and how states are coping with their regional and international battles, such as the proxy conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran as well as Israel/Palestine. Weakness among several post-Ottoman states has opened a battle ground for armed non-state actors. How the MENA region could be organised politically, what comes after the Islamic State/Daesh, Iran’s emerging role and political developments in the Gulf region are examples of thematic issues that are addressed within the programme.

Social Transformation with Unclear Goals
The second area deals with social transformations within countries and the interaction between Europe and the Mediterranean region. Social movements and civil society affect developments in the region, although the calls for bread, freedom and social justice during the Arab spring in 2011 were mostly crushed. What new trends can be identified, how do they influence policy making and how does the region consequently change? The situation in Maghreb and its relations with Europe, and the Palestinian diaspora policy are examples of thematic issues that are being delt with in the programme.

The programme produces research-driven publications. These include books, expert opinions, policy-oriented papers and articles in academic journals. Opinion pieces and commentaries are published in Swedish and international press. In addition to an extensive scientific production, the research findings are thus available to policy makers and the general public, in Sweden and internationally.

Partnership and cooperation
Building on our Institute’s history as a venue for research and practice, the programme welcomes partnerships and cooperation with researchers, institutes, organizations and companies interested in the region. We regularly host foreign guest researchers and welcome delegations.

 The programme works closely with the Institute's editors as part of the production of UI's magazine Världspolitikens Dagsfrågor (in Swedish and only in hard copy) and its forum for analysis and opinion utrikesmagasinet.se (in Swedish and English) and the country database  Landguiden.se. (in Swedish)


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