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Geopolitics of Security in Middle East and North Africa in the Post–Arab Spring

Donald Tusk, President of the European Council (second from right) and JeanClaude Juncker, President of the European Commission (third from right), meet Barack Obama, U.S. President (third from left) for an EU-US leaders meeting on 8 July 2016 to discuss common political, economic and international security challenges. Photo credit to European Union.

Donald Tusk, President of the European Council (second from right) and JeanClaude
Juncker, President of the European Commission (third from right), meet Barack Obama,
U.S. President (third from left) for an EU-US leaders meeting on 8 July 2016 to discuss common
political, economic and international security challenges. Photo credit to European Union.

This paper examines contrasting views on the geopolitical effects of the post–Arab Spring. Assessing Middle Eastern, U.S., and European perspectives on transnational security issues includes those threats that directly influence the roles and missions of U.S. special operations forces (SOF). These geopolitical security issues require continuing attention to significant events, such as the fall of authoritarian regimes and the impact on public services, economies, and human, state, and regional security; the dynamics of regional geopolitics; and the push-pull forces of globalization. The context of time and space, in renewing an emphasis on geopolitics, has significant implications for regional studies, including the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), as well as Southern and Eastern Europe. The findings here are intended to assist the SOF and wider defense community in thinking about how these political revolutions influence the geopolitical-military assessments at the regional and national levels, as well as at the operational levels of policy and strategy. This analysis begins by focusing on the outward-directed threats in the Middle East and North Africa, including the use of force, terrorism, and weapons of mass destruction proliferation, as well as human security issues, such as illegal immigration, refugees, and violence against noncombatants, especially women and children. A starting assumption is that there is a continuing gap between the academic and practitioner ideas, approaches, and forecasts. The “intellectual anchor” for this part of the study is the notion that responding to outward-directed threats, as the external determinants of grand strategy, requires thoughtful analysis and judgment.1 Sound strategies should also seek to address the gaps that exist among scholars and practitioners. For instance, in his literature review essay of the big ideas on post–Cold War international relations by scholars Samuel P. Huntington, Francis Fukuyama, and John J. Mearsheimer, security studies professor and former practitioner Richard Betts gets to the essence of the theory-practice divide. Read Paper here.