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From Within and Without: Sustainable Security in the Middle East and North Africa

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Chris Abbott and Sophie Marsden
1 March 2009

The Middle East and North Africa is a region of great diversity. It encompasses Arab and many other ethnic populations, theocratic and secular states, democracies and authoritarian regimes. A region of immense wealth and crippling poverty; it is blessed (some might say cursed) with vast resources, not least oil, but has not always proved able to manage them for the benefit of ordinary people. While it is often viewed from the outside as a source of terrorism and conflict, the regional perception is one of foreign occupation and other external interference.

This report is based on the outcomes of a consultation that Oxford Research Group (ORG) and the Institute for Peace Studies (IPS) held in Egypt in October 2008. Bringing together security experts, academics, government officials and civil society leaders from across the Middle East and North Africa, the two-day meeting explored the implications of the sustainable security framework for the region. The Ford Foundation-funded consultation was the second in a series of regional meetings held over 2008-10 as part of ORG's Moving Towards Sustainable Security programme.

The meeting identified the regional drivers of insecurity as:

  • Conflict and occupation
  • Resource management
  • Marginalisation and social exclusion

The blockages to achieving change in the region were identified as:

  • The Israeli-Palestinian conflict
  • Al-Qaida and other fundamentalist movements
  • External interference

The report includes an integrated analysis of these issues, together with recommendations for policy-makers.

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