2014 EPIIC Colloquium: The Future of the Middle East and North Africa

Date & Time September 3, 2013 - May 16, 2014 10:30pm
Tufts University

EPIIC 2013-14 The Future of the Middle East and North Africa EXP 0091F Tuesdays and Thursdays, 3-5:30pm, Tisch 304 Registration: This course is High Demand. You must attend the first class on September 3 to enroll. There will be an interview process.

Against the backdrop of the 100th anniversary of World War I, this two-semester effort will provide a comprehensive, critical look at an extensive and volatile region, extending from Morocco to Iran, from Algiers to Sana’a. Home to 380 million people and possessing 60 percent of the world’s oil reserves and 45 percent of the world’s natural gas reserves, it is an arena of intense geopolitical rivalry marked by inequality of resources and income, with 23 percent of its population living on less than $2 a day.

It is a region riven by extreme political instability that is also facing increasing demographic growth, intergenerational fissures, urbanization, water scarcity, and environmental stress.

The wave of changes and transitions in the MENA region pose a broad set of challenges to regional security, as well as to international security and U.S. foreign policy. What impacts will internal religious, sectarian, and political schisms have on regional politics, and how might they expand outward?

How will the 2011 civil uprisings and their consequences, when socio-economic tensions merged with deep political discontent, evolve? How will the region contend with the ongoing Syrian crisis, Iran’s nuclear threat, and the increasing role of non-state actors, from Hezbollah to the Kurds? What is Iraq’s future, and how will the US role ultimately be understood?

We will examine the demise of authoritarian despots and their repressive regimes, the challenges to the regions’ state structures, the impact of the regions’ rampant corruption, the realignment of regional alliances, threats to human and civil rights, and the vulnerable status of women. We will probe the democratic impulses of Tahrir Square, Taksim Square and elsewhere and the efforts to establish civil society and participatory government.

What is the impact of information and communication technology in both enhancing freedoms and strengthening surveillance and repressive counter-measures? How has cyber warfare affected the region? What is the nature of civil-military relations in the region? In Israel, Turkey, Egypt? How fragile is Lebanon? What is the impact of decades of the Israel/Palestine conflict for their societies and are there any reasonable outcomes for this struggle? What might Yemen’s disintegration mean for the resurgence of a regional Al Queda?

What is the socio-economic reality of the Persian Gulf states? How stable is Saudi Arabia? We will also investigate the emergence of positive entrepreneurial prospects in addressing development challenges at a time of diminished foreign direct investment.

Throughout we will probe the resolve and efficacy of current U.S. foreign policy.

The colloquium will engage experts and mentors from diverse sources such as the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, the International Crisis Group, the United States Institute for Peace, The Hague Institute for Global Justice, The Naval Post Graduate School, The National Defense University, Jadaliyya, The Arab Studies Institute, the Palestine Research Center, the Jerusalem Center for International Affairs, Harvard’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Northeastern’s Middle East Center for Peace, Culture and Development; and The Crown Center at Brandeis among others.