Middle East and North Africa Program

The Middle East and North Africa have been in a state of intense upheaval since 2011. Developments have been alarming with few exceptions. Even in a region long familiar with conflict, the current wave of violence – in all its social, cross-border, and pan-regional dimensions – is destabilizing the region, with direct consequences for Europe. Before Arab, European, and German policy makers can develop a meaningful strategy for confronting these challenges, they must first understand and categorize what is taking place.

The Middle East and North Africa Program’s workshops, background discussions, and publications are designed to pry open complex issues, generate knowledge, propose solutions, and help create mutual insight into the sometimes conflicting interests and needs of the Arab and European sides.

The policy recommendations that result from the program's activities are as much geared toward German and European policy makers as toward countries in North Africa and the Middle East. With this end in mind, the program works together closely with experts and multipliers from the countries affected by the upheavals.

From 2011 to 2016, a major focus of the program was on domestic developments in Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco, and Turkey. In addition to domestic devlopments in these countries, a related focus was placed on how overall regional dynamics affect these countries and on the international community’s policy responses.

In 2014 the program conducted a research project to examine the policies of Gulf States Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, and Qatar toward Egypt and Tunisia.

Activities and Initiatives

Current Areas of Focus

  • Socioeconomic deveopments
  • Political Islam
  • Islamic terrorism
  • Engagement of the Gulf States (Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, and Qatar) in Egypt and Tunisia

Please note that we are currently unable to take in interns at the Middle East and North Africa Program.


  • Tunisia’s Fragile Democracy: Decentralization, Institution-Building and the Development of Marginalized Regions

    Perspectives from the Region and Europe

    von Dina Fakoussa, Laura Lale Kabis-Kechrid

    Although Tunisia has made great strides over the past seven years, its democratization process remains fragile. Disillusionment with and distrust in the government, particularly high among the young, also manifest themselves in low voter turnout. To a great extent, this disillusionment stems from the various, persistent socio-economic problems which had led to the uprisings and the ouster of the former autocratic regime in 2011.

  • Socio-Economic Challenges in Morocco: Migration, Education, and Employment

    Perspectives from the Region and Europe

    Socio-economic deprivation is posing a vital threat to Morocco’s elusive peace by fueling radicalization and irregular migration. To safeguard the country’s development and stability, comprehensive policies are essential to address challenges in the mutually reinforcing areas of migration, education, and employment. Education level is alarmingly high, and knowledge taught at schools do not match the needs of the labor market. This volume provides recommendations both for the Moroccan government and the EU.

  • In the Triple Threat to Tunisia’s Democracy, Corruption is King

    von Fabian Stroetges | Tunisia, Corruption
    DGAPkompakt 1 (January 2018), 6 pp.

    In the Triple Threat to Tunisia’s Democracy, Corruption is King

    As austerity protestors clash with security forces in Tunisia, the country’s young democracy is threatened by a triple challenge: Insecurity, a lack of socioeconomic development and persistent corruption are interlinked and reinforce each other. Individually and in concert they undermine citizens’ confidence in the democratic system and hamper its ability to produce democracy dividends.


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