Shaping the MED Agenda. Insights & perspectives

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Series Details No 291 September 2015
Publication Date 09/12/2015
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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.

The emergence of Daesh, which purports to anticipate the resurgence of the Islamic Caliphate, appears to be, therefore, the by-product of several causes, including the socio-economic problems out of which migratory pressures emerged from various Arab countries, marked by long-lasting dictatorships and violent regimes.

Despite President Obama's non-interventionist philosophy and his "leading from behind” stance, US interests in the Middle East remain crucial, not least because of Israel, even though some argue that the discovery of shale gas in the North American continent will somehow realign Washington strategic priorities. Russia, as usual, seems intent on containing the expansion of American (Western) influence and, wherever possible, expanding its own.

Syria is a case in point. This is the breeding ground of two extremely serious phenomena: the threat of terrorism and the humanitarian problem of refugees. They are totally different issues, although they often tend to be wrongly mixed together. In addition, Daesh, unlike Al Qaeda, is not only a terrorist organization, but it has conquered, and embedded itself in, a territory straddling two countries, Syria and Iraq.
Given these premises, it follows that a comprehensive policy has to stem from the convergence between the external actors (mainly the USA, Russia and, hopefully, the European Union) and the major regional powers (Turkey, Iran, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Qatar).

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