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The Future of Middle East Regionalism

The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is one of the most barren areas in the world when it comes to regional—or even subregional—organizations. There is no robust structure for cooperative security. Nor is there a political framework for negotiating differences and advancing collaboration on common challenges, from promoting counterterrorism to advancing energy security to combating desertification. Existing institutions (like the Arab League) have historically been weak. The region is also among the least economically integrated in the world, whether measured in terms of trade and investment flows, transportation and telecommunications links, or the free flow of labor; less than 10 percent of the region’s trade is intra-regional…

More recently, the League has suspended the membership of Syria, called for the orderly departure of Bashar al-Assad, and pressed for a negotiated settlement among all Syrian forces toward a democratic transition in that country. The League has also participated actively in ongoing mediation efforts, jointly sponsoring the work of a special mediator with the United Nations. These developments suggested that the Arab League might be poised to transform itself along the lines of the African Union (AU), whose founding Constitutive Act replaced the “non-intervention” absolutism of the preceding Organization of African Unity with a  declaration of “non-indifference” toward internal assaults on democracy.

Source: Council on Foreign Relations


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