The security of NATO, particularly Mediterranean members, and partners in North Africa are very much intertwined and require specific policies for NATO to assist the transition process in partner countries, while ensuring that there is security and stability in the region. Atlantic-community.org's policy workshop competition already produced an Atlantic Memo addressing these concerns. However, we received many good ideas that could not be incorporated into the memo, which you will find in the following article. If you are interested in learning more about the authors’ policy proposals, click on their last name found at the end of the sentence to read their article in its entirety.
1. Build Democratic Civil-Military Relations.
Armed forces have been at the center of the Arab Spring, but their effect has varied; for example, in Egypt there is a close relationship between the military and society at large, while in Yemen the military is highly patrimonial and lacks almost complete institutionalization. Consequently, NATO needs to implement a post-conflict disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration (DDR) program accompanied by Security Sector Reform (SSR) tailored to the specific conditions of each country (Anuta). This should be facilitated by Turkey since it shares cultural and historical values with these countries and has become a role model for Middle Eastern countries (Deniz).
2. Amend the Mediterranean Dialogue to Include an Intercultural Youth Dialogue.
Although the Mediterranean Dialogue (MD) seeks to promote mutual understanding and good relations throughout the Mediterranean, thereby contributing to regional security and stability, it suffers from a serious cultural diplomacy problem. That is, the MD has failed to engage the most important non-state actor in the Arab Spring movement: the youth. To remedy this, NATO must encourage an intercultural youth dialogue as part of the MD, to facilitate understanding and transnational unity (Mattox). This should come in many shapes and forms. The Alliance could offer free programs focused on online education and training to develop civil society, enhance on entrepreneurial opportunities and improve decision-making skills (Summerson), thereby promoting active citizenship. A more scaled back but effective measure would be to provide official NATO pages and accounts on social networking services, such as Facebook and Twitter, in Arabic (Mallia).
3. Develop Good Governance and Rule of Law Initiatives.
NATO should offer advice on post-conflict constitution drafting, democratic governance and methods to address the role of the military in the country’s political structure (Schill). In addition, rule of law initiatives led by NATO, similar to Rule of Law Field Force - Afghanistan, should provide the essential technical assistance needed in strengthening the capacity and ability of criminal justice authorities (Hurd). NATO should also provide the possibility for current or next-generation leaders of regional partner countries to visit NATO capitals to learn about democratic governance (Harriger).
4. Integrate Western and Arab Interests.
NATO must further integrate Western interests with the interests of the Arab peoples in countries where the Alliance is present, by increasing economic ties with them. The Alliance should offer a contractual, incentive-based program to provide small and medium sized Arab enterprises with the opportunity to sell their goods and services and support NATO’s operations. This will not only strengthen the middle class, but appeal to the financial interests of Western and Arab governments, while increasing interaction between the cultures (Majikes).
On a different front, the path to long-term sustainable peace can only be achieved when considering the threats posed by water scarcity, especially considering that that the countries of the Arab Spring will be among the most severely affected when the world speeds toward reaching peak water. NATO should support in constructing desalination plants for its regional partner countries, while its countries can secure northern Africa’s abundant sunshine through the development of large solar-energy fields in the Sahara (Krantz).
5. Alternative: Hands-off
Many contributors shared the view that NATO must be less engaged in the Middle East and North Africa and should not do more than provide support for the democratic processes and procedures in the region; they believe NATO should not impose its own values and must only offer its expertise and its resources when requested (Uchiyama).
Costinel Anuta graduated from the Program in Advanced Security Studies (George C. Marshall Center for Security Studies), and holds an MA in Public Relations, as well as two BAs in Informatics and Management.
Emine Deniz is an MA student at New York University’s Political Economy Analysis program. She will start her PhD in Political Economy next fall at New York University. Her main area of research is the political economy of development in Middle East and North Africa.
Karen Harriger is an undergraduate student at The Master's College in Santa Clarita, California. She is a history major with an avid interest in Middle Eastern affairs and spent three-and-a-half months studying in Israel in 2010.
Rob Hurd studies International Relations and Human Geography at the United States Military Academy at West Point. His views in this essay do not reflect those of the US Military Academy at West Point, Department of the Army, or Department of Defense.
David Krantz studies nonprofit management and public policy analysis at New York University's Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, where he is active in the Wagner Climate Coalition and Wagner Environmental Policy & Action.
Keri Majikes is a student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Elizabeth Mallia is a student at the University of Malta. She is currently enrolled in law, but remains passionate about international relations.
Yasmin J. Mattox has a Master's degree in International Studies. Her research interests revolve around the intersections of intercultural understanding, diplomacy and security issues, particularly low intensity conflicts.
Sarah Schill is currently living and working as a Fulbright Scholar in Germany. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Diplomacy and Foreign Affairs from Miami University, Ohio.
Isabelle Summerson is a journalism and international relations student at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia. She is currently on a six month exchange at the University of Maastricht in The Netherlands studying conflict resolution, earth sciences and Arabic.
Gautier Uchiyama is student in Master of Political Science at the University Paris 1 - Panthéon Sorbonne and specialized in International Relations and international cooperation policies.
Written by Ramin Daniel Rezai