The Arab Spring: US Policy and Lessons for Europe

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GR:EEN Policy Brief 2
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The revolutions that began in 2011, sweeping across  the  Middle East and North Africa (MENA), raise serious questions about  the EU’s  role  in  the  region  and  its purported goal of  supporting democratisation.   With  European   states   having  a  considerable number economic  and  security interests  in  the  region ,  the  longstanding  “conflict  of  interests”  problem  between  supporting democracy and  pursuing more    immediate  goals has been exacerbated. As such, the EU not only has to negotiate a changing landscape  in  the region   but   also   negotiate   between   Members States  competing  and  overlapping  interests.   This  makes  dealing with  the  “conflict  of  interests”  problem  in  the  region  all  the  more important for the EU to take control of. Such  a  problematic  is  not  of  course  unique to  the  EU, albeit if geography makes crises in the Southern  Mediterranean more  acutely felt  on  the  shores  of  Europe,  and  the  institutional  structures of  the  EU pose  their  own  particular  impediments. 

Indeed, the  United  States  of America  shares  similar  strategic  concerns  and democratic  aspirations for  the  MENA  region .  However, research  carried  out  as  part  of  the GR:EEN  project  has  shown  that the  US  has  been  somewhat  more efficient  and  better  prepared  for  the Middle  Eastern  revolutions,  which has been demonstrated in the American’s relatively more  consistent and assertive policy response.  This is not to say that the US response has not been without its problems, but it does provide insights that can advance  the  state  of  the  art  and  provide  lessons  for  the  EU as it attempts  to  navigate  the new strategic  landscape. Moreover,  during this  period of  fiscal  responsibility,  many  of  the  new  strategies  adopted by  the  US  would,  if  adopted  by  the  EU,  offer  the  ability  to be  more effectual and cost effective.