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The situation in the Middle East and North African region

Published 28 Nov 2017

At Glover Cottages on Tuesday 21 November, Youssef Amrani – senior member of the Moroccan Royal Cabinet – delivered his perspective on the fragmentation of the Arab world and the diplomatic strategies required to harmonise the region. Throughout his address, Mr Amrani was careful to steer clear of partisanship and adopted what he would have seen as an ‘objective’ approach.

He began by highlighting particular trends in the Middle Eastern and North African region that have been influential in shaping regional politics. The continuing crisis in Syria was one that has involved most states in the region. While Mr Amrani confirmed a decrease in ISIS’s influence, he observed that a collective effort was required to defeat the negative characteristics of jihadism that have become entrenched in the region. On a similar note, the political tensions arising from Libya and the Palestinian debate had continued to fuel violence and illuminated political, cultural and ideological differences.

In addition to these deep-seated and intractable frictions, the emergence of terrorism had hindered efforts towards reaching any solutions. States have turned inwards to preserve their own security. Mr Amrani pointed to the Arab Spring, as well as the hostility within Iraq, Sudan and Yemen, as examples of the underlying identity crises that have plagued the region. While economic growth was necessary, some states in the region have steered away from adopting practical solutions promoted by Bretton Woods institutions, as they do not address fundamental religious schisms.

Mr Amrani said that fragmentation within the Middle Eastern and North African region requires the collective effort of all states involved. He stressed the necessity for all states to prioritise resolving their internal conflicts. While it was important for the international community to support this process, the sovereignty of the state must not be compromised. Mr Amrani confirmed Morocco’s efforts to facilitate diplomatic, dynamic discussions between states that have become hostile as a result of ideological differences. In addition, he emphasised the need for all states to develop an inclusive, effective vision which facilitates economic growth and political development within the region. This two-fold solution will in turn bolster regional security, which is crucial in controlling the threat of terrorism. Ultimately, the diversity of culture within the region must be celebrated and built upon. However, it is important for all states to show their commitment towards preserving and maintaining regional stability and security.


Report prepared by Maneesha Gopalan