Esta semana en el Observador del Mundo Árabe hablamos sobre la estrategia de la UE hacia el Norte de África; las tensiones entre el enviado especial de Naciones Unidas para Siria y el Primer Ministro de Qatar, Hamad Bin Jassem; la relación entre Egipto e Irán tras la primavera árabe; la necesidad de que la UE trabaje con Líbano para contener una posible desestabilización del país, la necesaria cohesión de los partidos no islamistas en Egipto en torno al debate constitucional; del cambio de discurso de los Hermanos Musulmanes una vez llegados al poder; de la posibilidad de crear un estado independiente alauita en Siria; sobre la posición del primer ministro israelí, Benjamin Netanyahu en las elecciones de Estados Unidos; la situación política actual en Algeria; y los costes de una hipotética acción militar en Irán.

The Region

  • In our newly published report A Power Audit of EU/ North Africa Relations, Senior policy fellows Nick Witney and Anthony Dworkin outline how the Europe can raise its game to support more open and democratic societies taking root in North Africa:

The moment is fragile, and the need for Europe collectively to raise its game is urgent. To fail to do so would be to miss an historic opportunity to shape the North Africa we want – that is, one that is democratic, prosperous, stable, friendly and useful.

  • In this blog post in Le Figaro, Georges Malbrunot takes a closer look at the latest tensions between United Nations Special Envoy for Syria Lakhdar Brahimi and Qatari Prime Minister, Hamad Bin Jassem (In French):

Summary in English: This week, Lakhdar Brahimi has refused the requests of Hamad Bin Jassem to set up a deadline for his mandate, and to lay out a plan by which the great powers would supervise a transfer of sovereignty in Syria. As Malbrunot notes, it is not the first time Brahimi tries to limit Qatari influence: he has previously been pressured by the USA to accept into his team the Palestinian diplomat Nasser al-Qwida, who Brahimi considered to be “too close to Qatar”.

  • Ahmed Morsy looks at the relationship between Egypt and Iran before and after the Arab Spring for Muftah:

Morsi’s decision to attend the Non-Aligned Movement summit in Tehran was met with concern from the Western media, who saw it as a victory for Iran. Egypt has responded with an outreach strategy to reassure its regional and international partners that Morsi’s stopover in Tehran – after a state visit to China – does not signal a shift in Egyptian foreign policy and that any possible engagement with Iran will not come at their expense.


  • In this policy brief, ECFR Senior Policy Fellow Julien Barnes-Dacey discusses Europe’s role in helping Lebanon to avoid conflict:

European states must maintain their co-ordinated message of support for consensus politics in Lebanon. They should offer strong backing to President Suleiman’s national dialogue and Mikati’s disassociation policy, and use their political influence to press Lebanese actors to unify behind this goal.


  • In this op-ed for The Los Angeles Times, ECFR Senior policy fellow Elijah Zarwan and Michael Hanna offer some advice to non-Islamist Egyptian parties:

While not losing sight of longer-term efforts to expand their popular appeal and to establish nationwide political organizations, the Egyptian opposition must take immediate steps to counteract the president’s de facto monopoly on formal political power. Liberals must cohere around a core set of constitutional demands: equal rights for all citizens, religious freedom, separation of powers, rule of law and issues of due process.

  • ECFR Visiting fellow Issandr El Amrani argues in this piece for The National, that the recent embassy protests and senseless killings show that a “qualitative change in the substance of Arab politics” is still quite far away:

Islamist movements (even if they are not alone in this) have shown that they excel in using an insult (real or perceived) as part of their culture wars: the tactic is to portray themselves as the sole defenders of the faith. In this week’s case, they chose to do so even though the film in question was released only online and no one would have heard of it or paid attention to it without their efforts. This, perhaps, is what has changed between the 1988 Rushdie fatwa and more recent examples of Islamist outrage: thanks to the internet, a regional Danish newspaper or an amateur film have become targets just as much as a celebrated, best-selling novelist.

  • In The Washington Post, Michael Birnbaum writes about how The Muslim Brotherhood has been forced to change its deep-rooted tactics from the time in opposition to better match the position as the ruling party:

Top Brotherhood officials say they are maturing as they grow into their new role as Egypt’s dominant political power under Morsi, a former head of the group’s political wing. But they say they also find themselves caught between the moderating force of office and a sharp tug toward religious and social conservatism from Islamist groups that sparked the protests at the U.S. Embassy here.


  • In this essay published by The London Review of Books, ECFR Visiting fellow Nir Rosen writes about his experiences from travelling through conflict-ridden Syria:

A new generation of Syria pundits in the West is already discussing the possibility of a separate Alawite state, but one hears of no such thing from the Alawites themselves. Syria has long been their central project and their mode of involvement has been to leave their villages and move towards a version of modernity. It is conceivable that they will end up in some form of autonomous enclave as a result of a civil war in which the opposition gains the upper hand, but it is not their wish.



  • In Le Monde, Isabelle Mandraud analyses the current political situation in Algeria. (In French):

Summary in English: Despite legislative elections in May 2012, there has not been a significant reshuffling of power. As most important ministers have remained in offices, there are virtually no new faces in the goverrnment, what is more, only three of them are women. Mandraud concludes that Algeria is in fact hibernating. Amidst the chaos of the Arab uprisings, Algeria’s politics (which have not changed much since independence), its strong regional influence and its gas revenues have enabled the country to remain relatively stable.


  •  In this report, drafted by Austin Long and William Luers for The Wilson Center, the benefits and costs of US military action against Iran are examined:

According to official statements, the objective of U.S. military action at that point would be to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. In our judgment, that objective is unlikely to be achieved through a military action that relies on aerial strikes supplemented by cyber attacks, covert operations, and perhaps special operations forces. After reviewing many studies on this controversial question, we have come to believe that extended military strikes by the U.S. alone or in concert with Israel could destroy or severely damage the six most important known nuclear facilities in Iran, setting back Iran’s nuclear program for up to four years.


Acerca de El Blog de ECFR Madrid

Oficina en Madrid del Consejo Europeo de Relaciones Exteriores (ECFR en sus siglas en inglés), el primer think tank paneuropeo.


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