Two years after theonset of the Arab revolts, theongoing civil war in Syria, theextreme sectarian polarizationin Iraq, and the recent mili-tary takeover in Egypt make astrong case for the necessity of focusing more than ever on thestrategic context in the region.Since the beginning of the ArabRevolts, transatlantic powers,struggling with the legacy of theirsupport to authoritarian regimes,have been largely absent frominternal debates, having alsofailed to integrate new stra-tegic actors such as Qatar andChina in the discussions. Anew analysis of the securityenvironment in the Middle Eastand North Africa region should
therefore constitute the rst step
of renewed transatlantic engage-ment.
Transatlantic Security Task Force Series
Growing Instability Challenges the Transatlantic Approach to the Arab Spring Countries
by Sinan Ülgen
German Marshall Fund o theUnited States-Paris71 Boulevard Raspail75006 Paris: +33 1 47 23 47 18E:firstname.lastname@example.org
wo years aer the onset o the Arabrevolts, the ongoing civil war in Syria,the extreme sectarian polarization inIraq, and the recent military take-over in Egypt make a strong case orthe necessity o ocusing more thanever on the strategic context in theregion. Any realistic assessment o thepotential or a transatlantic approachto MENA security issues must startwith a sound analysis o the evolu-tion o the internal and externalsecurity ramework o the region. A vast majority o the changes that haveoccurred in the past year have tendedto accentuate the internal security challenges, thus creating clear impli-cations or the regional security order.At the beginning o the so-calledArab Spring, hope existed that theonset o the transition rom auto-cratic leaders to more accountableand legitimate regimes would helpto tackle some o the core security problems o the region. Tese transi-tions, it was believed, would help todeal with the maniold problems thathad bedeviled the political, economic,and social progress o these countries.Concurrently, the democratic transi-tions were also to alleviate one o themost rustrating conundrums or theWest. In the past, the Western powershad been orced to engage withauthoritarian leaders in the absenceo any real political alternative in theregion, an engagement that naturally gave rise to criticism o Westernbehavior and allegations o doublestandards. Te perceived tacit alli-ance between the West and the Arabregimes undermined the so powero the transatlantic allies. Te ensuingheritage o popular sentiment havecertainly also made it more dicultor the transatlantic allies to reach outto civil society and establish a moredurable partnership with societalstakeholders.wo years down the road, however,the optimistic expectations rom theArab revolts are due to be revisited.Democratic transitions in the regionare proving to be more dicult, moreuncertain, and doubtlessly morecomplicated than initially envisaged.It is also becoming clear that a stableoutcome is not pre-ordained. Tedomestic dynamics unleashed by theaspiration or regime change cannotbe channeled toward a consensus view about the uture order o thesesocieties. What we see is a gradualdissolution o the internal coalitionthat had come into being or accom-plishing regime change, whose railty