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March 19, 2012 |  2 comments |  Print  Your Opinion  

Editorial Team

Your Ideas, Your NATO: Partnerships after the Arab Spring

Editorial Team: In the second theme week from our current policy workshop, we focus on NATO’s partnerships in North Africa and the Middle East. How can NATO best interact with the new governments forming in the wake of the Arab Spring and what should its role be in furthering security in the region? Read our young writers’ top ideas!

Our mission here at is to end the exclusivity of foreign policy discourse and give a voice to a new generation of thinkers as well as to strengthen the transatlantic partnership. Therefore, we are proud to feature our top five articles from the second category of the "Your Ideas, Your NATO" policy workshop competition, with ideas for how NATO can support the long term transition process in Arab Spring countries and further regional stability in North Africa and the Middle East.

We encourage all of our members to give their feedback in the comments section and offer their own thoughts on the ideas presented, as well as adding their own policy recommendations. The Atlantic Memo will feature the best of all the proposed ideas, so while the shortlisted authors will write the memo, everyone's ideas could be included. Help us create a great memo and let NATO know what Atlantic Community thinks! UPDATE: The Atlantic Memo has been published and the winners announced!

Also, if you are a citizen of a NATO Member or Partner country 35 years old or younger, you can still participate in category 3, "Smart Defense". Articles are due by April 5 and it still offers the first place prize of 500 EUR and a trip to Berlin, with the runner-up receiving a 250 EUR prize.


Entrants in Category 2: Partnerships after the Arab Spring were asked the following question:

NATO's Mediterranean Dialogue aims to contribute to regional security and stability, achieve better mutual understanding, and dispel misconceptions. In 2011, unprecedented changes occurred in the Middle East with people demanding better living conditions, the protection of human rights, and more accountable and democratic governments. The Arab public awakening has demonstrated that the political landscape in the Mediterranean and the Middle East is fundamentally changing with new electoral processes in Tunisia, Egypt and Morocco. The crisis that erupted in Libya in early 2011, at NATO's door step, is just one example of how the security of NATO countries and the security of the Mediterranean and the Middle East are so closely linked.

Question: How should NATO support the long-term transition process underway in regional partner countries and how should NATO work in these changed environments in order to further the goal of regional security and stability?


The articles will be published in the following order:

Monday, March 19: Endowing the Arab Spring Generation with the Skills to Govern | Geoffrey Phillip Levin

Tuesday: March 20: Partnerships Should Be Incentivized | Vivien Pertusot

Wednesday, March 21: Mare Nostrum: Building a Stronger Mediterranean Dialogue | Josiah Jason Surface

Thursday, March 22: NATO and the OSCE: Joining Forces to Support the Arab Spring | Gillian Kennedy

Friday, March 23: NATO and the Arab Spring: Democracy Promotion and Security Sector Reform | Alexander Corbeil

We received a fantastic 76 submissions for this category, so there were many outstanding articles that unfortunately did not make the cut. We have published a selection of the best remaining articles, with even more ideas and policy recommendations.


The competition has been made possible by generous contributions from the NATO Public Diplomacy Division, the US Mission to Germany, and the Heinrich Böll Foundation

Top image from: European Parliament Liaison Office with US Congress

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I like this Article! What's this?

Veronika  Valdova

March 23, 2012

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How can NATO best interact with the new governments forming in the wake of the Arab Spring and what should its role be in furthering security in the region?

Some analysts, including T Barnett, believe that in long term, EU is going to form Mediterranean Union to incorporate emerging economies in the Middle East. His main argument was that demographic situation in Europe is getting worse and worse, and Europe will soon demand cheap workforce which is abundant just over the sea down south. This is based on analysis of trends especially in strategic resources.

1) Demography: I personally do not think that EU is going to accept Mediterranean countries as new members anytime soon, because there will be a different problem they will have to deal with much sooner: Putin’s Russia. What I can completely endorse is Barnett’s conclusion that many events in Europe will be driven by demographic development. On the example of Eastern Europe, we can see one simple thing: after a regime change, what follows is a period of economic insecurity, and the logical result of this is that birth rate stalls. This is to a certain degree likely to happen in the Middle East, too. Tensions between generations can be worse than in Eastern Europe because the level of dependency in ME is much deeper. The logic of older generation is very simple – “we were making a living through our connections to this regime, no matter how ugly it was, and your generation’s activities represent an existential threat to us all”.

2) Migration: So the immediate result will be higher demand for jobs among people who would otherwise stay with their original families. This conflict can potentially drive more migrants to go up north. The situation is very similar to that of Mexico and USA – the flow of migrants is seemingly unstoppable. Liberation movement in ME can in fact make conditions for many population groups worse than before. (in security threats terminology, human trafficking material)

3) Drugs: Next obvious phenomenon of abolition of an authoritarian regime is increase in consumption of illicit drugs. Main transfer route for Afghan opium is through Iran. ME is a fantastic market.

4) Who would worry about a bunch of commies (or any other fallen former ruling class); what matters are signed contracts. European Union should make sure it does not end up buying ME oil from … Russian-owned resellers. Does it sound like fun? This is exactly the way of thinking on Russian side, how to create a state of complete dependency in order to facilitate negotiations in other matters. In Germany this is a popular topic, especially after the Nord Stream gas deal.

So what do I personally think NATO should do about security in the region?
To take care of major threats: access to strategic resources; and combating transnational threats such as human trafficking, narcotics trade, and weapons proliferation.

Just out of interest: which EU agency would in theory deal with a case like this, if the Texans did not pick it up?

First of all, there is one elephant in the room which people do not want to hear about: the two Bastion missile systems in Syria. This completely changes the power play in the ME. I wonder how many Europeans are aware of those Yakhont missiles.

Second mammoth in the room is bathing right by the Horn of Africa: Piracy makes journey to Suez more and more costly (in fuel because of increased speed, but also in insurance and human cost). Third problem is Iranian navy, which sometimes gets really playful. This can block the same maritime route.

Iranian nuclear program does not seem to be any better, either.

Definition of European strategic interests would greatly help, especially when they are in conflict with national interests and strategies.

….Is this where we are right now? (I’m trying to orient a map),...

….does it mean that this is it? (spotted a landmark right here)

….and some reality check here

So what it a one sentence answer?
To make sure EU itself does not become a failed conglomerate of states.
Unregistered User

September 25, 2012

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Very valid, pithy, scucinct, and on point. WD.

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