After years of isolation from the rest of the African continent, Morocco has been trying to raise its political profile in West Africa and the Sahel through the strategic use of religious diplomacy, in part to help counter violent extremism across those regions. The Kingdom has also greatly boosted its economic ties with Sub-Saharan Africa, and is now positioning itself as an entry point to the African continent for Western investors. However, there remain many obstacles to Morocco’s African ambitions, such as the unresolved Western Sahara conflict, rivalry with Algeria, and question marks over the sustainability of the Kingdom's model of democratisation.
The American military interventions in Iraq and Syria against Islamic State have brought President Obama full circle. He started out his first term with the clear purpose of extricating the United States from ten years of military involvement in the Middle East and putting an end to what he regarded as an overblown focus on the ‘global war on terror’. Now he finds himself drawn into warfare again, re-applying a counterterrorism lens to the region.
Germany’s political influence in the Middle East and North Africa is limited in many respects. However, Berlin’s role in shaping positions within the EU, its close alliance with Israel, its good relations with Iran, and its growing partnership with the Gulf states bestow it with some geopolitical influence. As the unravelling of the Middle Eastern status quo advances at great speed, the European Union’s strongest member should play a more purposeful role.
China's interests in the Middle East continue to grow, and the region has become an integral part of President Xi's New Silk Road. But while China has a keen interest in the region’s energy resources and is willing to expend diplomatic efforts to secure these, it regards the complex Middle East politics with caution. However, China’s position is increasingly under pressure as new dynamics and growing tensions in the Middle East beg not just an economic but also a geopolitical response from Beijing.
The outstanding result women achieved in the Tunisian legislative elections held on 26 October 2014 (31 per cent of seats in the Assembly), marks a new milestone in Tunisia’s modernist tradition and confirms its pioneering position in the Arab region with regard to women’s rights and their participation in public life. Having managed to overcome and reconcile their various cultural and ideological differences in the drafting of a constitution that further advances their rights, Tunisian women now face the challenge of turning this legal theory into concrete political practice.
France's approach to the Middle East is pragmatic, including a mix of continuity and change. Economic, energy and security interests prevail, with Paris strengthening its military footprint in the region to cope with growing jihadist threats. France is prioritising cooperation with Saudi Arabia and Algeria and works closely with the US. Upholding stability is the driving objective, while commitment to democratic reforms across the region is very uneven.
Dear Friends and Colleagues,
FRIDE ceased its think tank activities on 31st December 2015 for economic reasons. The Board of Trustees had to take this difficult decision since, despite many efforts to diversify its funding sources, FRIDE cannot sustain its think tank operations with a view to 2016 and beyond.
Established in 1999, FRIDE has made a major contribution to shape debate on Europe’s external activities in an increasingly challenging international environment. It has covered issues ranging from democracy and human rights to sustainable development, new approaches to multilateral cooperation and security affairs. FRIDE’s long-standing focus on the extended neighbourhood of the European Union proves today all the more relevant given widespread turbulence in the region. FRIDE’s emphasis on the importance of the values framing Europe’s external activities is central to current political debates in Europe and beyond. This shows the need for continued engagement in the pursuit of a common European foreign policy that is both effective and informed by the core values of European integration.
The Board wishes to thank Diego Hidalgo, FRIDE’s founder, for his tireless commitment and very generous support for many years. The Board also wishes to thank FRIDE’s dedicated staff, the members of the Board and the Advisory Committee for their contribution in making FRIDE one of the top foreign policy think tanks in Europe. We are very grateful to all those who have supported FRIDE’s work and projects over the years and we thank the many partners from all parts of the world who have worked with FRIDE on joint initiatives. We hope that FRIDE’s extensive input to the debate on Europe in the world will continue to inform thinking and action at a very critical time for Europe’s future.
The President of the Board
FRIDE cesó sus actividades como think tank el 31 de diciembre de 2015 por razones económicas. El Patronato tuvo que adoptar esta difícil decisión dado que, a pesar de los intensos esfuerzos realizados para diversificar sus fuentes de financiación, FRIDE no puede sostener sus operaciones como think tank a partir de 2016.
Establecido en 1999, FRIDE ha realizado una gran contribución al debate sobre las actividades exteriores de Europa en un ambiente internacional cada vez más complejo. Ha trabajado en temas que van desde la democracia y los derechos humanos al desarrollo sostenible, los nuevos enfoques en la cooperación multilateral y las cuestiones de seguridad. La atención prestada por FRIDE a la vecindad extendida de la Unión Europea durante mucho tiempo prueba ser hoy aún más relevante debido a la turbulencia que azota a la región. El énfasis de FRIDE en la importancia de los valores que enmarcan las actividades exteriores europeas es central en los debates en Europa y más allá. Esto muestra la necesidad de un compromiso continuo con la búsqueda de una política exterior europea común que sea eficaz y esté basada en los principios fundamentales de la integración europea.
El Patronato desea agradecer a Diego Hidalgo, fundador de FRIDE, por su incansable compromiso y muy generoso apoyo a lo largo de tantos años. También quiere expresar su gratitud a la dedicada plantilla, a los propios miembros del Patronato y del Comité Asesor por sus contribuciones para hacer de FRIDE uno de los principales think tanks de Europa en cuestiones de política exterior. Estamos muy agradecidos con todos aquellos que han apoyado el trabajo y los proyectos de FRIDE a través de los años y también damos las gracias a los numerosos socios de todas partes del mundo que han colaborado con FRIDE en iniciativas conjuntas. Esperamos que las extensas aportaciones de FRIDE al debate sobre Europa en el mundo continuará informando el pensamiento y la acción en un momento muy crítico para el futuro de Europa.
El Presidente del Patronato