In May 2024, The Institute of International Economic Relations (IDOS) organised a workshop on Security and Stability in the Mediterranean. The workshop focused on critical issues of security and stability in the Mediterranean, which continue to dominate regional and international agendas. Topics included the conflict between Israel and Hamas, tensions in the Greater Middle East, recent developments in Turkey and Iran, ongoing violence in Syria, Iraq, and Libya, as well as the migration and refugee crises. Additionally, the role of global powers such as the United States, Russia, and China was examined. The Mediterranean region, remains a crucial area for the future of the European Union's relationship with Mediterranean and Middle Eastern countries. The workshop's objective was to discuss and analyse ongoing political conflicts in the Euro-Mediterranean region and explore possible ways to achieve peace and stability.


In this workshop, AHRC researcher Habiba Diaaeldin presented a paper on European policies, the rise of the far right, and their impact on migration, geopolitics, and the humanitarian situation in the Mediterranean. The paper aimed to evaluate European migration policies, specifically the New Pact on Migration and Asylum, using "policy success" criteria developed for this purpose. These criteria include assessments based on values, economic cost, objective attainment, and political cost.


Throughout the three-day workshop, participants engaged in discussions on various topics related to the workshop’s main theme.

Impact of the Israel-Hamas War & the Russia-Ukraine War on the Middle East and Mediterranean


In this panel, three papers were presented tackling the impact of the two wars on the Mediterranean from different angles. To begin with, the first paper titled “Misperceptions and War: Israel, the Causes and Consequences of the Gaza War”, argued that the Oct. 7 attacks were due to Israeli decision makers misperception about the intentions of Hamas especially following a wrong pattern of deterrence. Another paper focusing on populist parties in Spain, particularly Unidas Podemos party reaction to the Russian Invasion of Ukraine, suggested that populist parties tend to tone down their narrative once they reach power. Influencing foreign policy, populist parties have an impact on Europeanisation and pro-Western stances, and foreign policy issues such as the Israel-Hamas War. Taking the discussion to NATO, a paper titled “Bringing the New Era of NATO Security Reforms: The Case of Ukrainian War and its Impact on the Middle East and Mediterranean Region”, it was argued that the Russian invasion in Ukraine as well as other political turmoil such as in the Middle East and the Mediterranean have left the need for NATO reform inevitable.


Greater Maghreb, Western Security and the Decline of MENA


This panel offered a distinctive focus on the future of European policy in North Africa, Sahel and West Africa after the 2021 EU Sahel strategy and the 2022 NATO Strategic Concept. The panel discussed the issue using three main axes in order to frame the analysis: Geopolitics, Great Power Competition, and Hybrid Threats. The main argument is that the idea of MENA is already obsolete for reasons including: the difficulties in cooperation among countries of the region, it is not possible anymore to split West Africa geopolitically from North Africa and Sahel, finally, the increasing presence of Great Powers in the area as Russia and China.


Refugee Crisis, Displacement and Migration


In this panel, papers explored the topic from various perspectives. One paper focused on postcolonial African migration to the West, arguing that such spatial movement is driven not only by the search for physical and material security but also by a desire to imitate the West and “whiten” oneself against the dehumanising legacy of slavery, colonialism, and Western dominance. Another paper reexamined replacement migration as a tool for demographic resilience, discussing the potential benefits of migration from densely populated areas, such as North African countries, to Europe, which faces the challenge of an ageing population. The panel concluded with a discussion on a paper addressing the impact of the 2015 refugee crisis on human security in the EU, emphasising the actual threats posed by the mismanagement of refugee and migrant issues by both national and supranational actors.


Politics and Migration


Following the presentation of a paper questioning ways of reconciling demands of state security with human security in the face of irregular migration in the Mediterranean, participants engaged in a discussion over the way states see that they have the sovereign right to defend their maritime borders while human rights advocates see that irregular migrants need states to save them. The discussion was followed by presenting another paper on the rise of anti-immigration parties in Turkey and Greece. With a focus on political strategies, ideologies and consequential effects of these parties, the paper aimed at shedding the light on the interplay between economic insecurity, social tension, and migration. The rest of the session proceeded with a discussion on the paper focusing on migration policies in the European Union and their impact on geopolitics, economics and the humanitarian situation in the Mediterranean.


Turkey’s Role in the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East


The last session of the workshop featured a roundtable discussion on Turkey’s role in the Mediterranean, particularly in light of the ongoing war in Gaza. Attendees explored how Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan might leverage the current situation to enhance his country’s influence in the region. Additionally, they discussed the relationship between Turkey and Iran. A presented paper highlighted the unique and complex bilateral relationship between the two countries, characterised by “conflictual cooperation,” where they collaborate in some areas while competing in others. This dynamic has intensified with the onset of the Israel-Hamas War. Rhetorically, both nations condemn Israel, but they diverge in their approaches to assisting the Palestinians. Iran continues to criticize Turkey for maintaining trade relations with Israel and for allowing the transit of Azeri oil to the Jewish state.


The Workshop provided a comprehensive analysis of the pressing issues affecting the region. The discussions highlighted the multifaceted nature of security challenges, encompassing geopolitical conflicts, migration crises, and the evolving roles of global and regional powers. Key insights emerged from the panels, such as the critical evaluation of European migration policies and the rise of far-right influences, which impact humanitarian and geopolitical landscapes. The exploration of the impacts of the Israel-Hamas War and Russia-Ukraine War underscored the interconnectedness of regional conflicts and the necessity for NATO reforms. The focus on the Greater Maghreb emphasised the obsolescence of the traditional MENA concept, advocating for a more integrated approach to North and West Africa and the Sahel, considering the increasing involvement of global powers like Russia and China. Furthermore, the refugee crisis and migration discussions revealed the complex motivations behind migration and the potential for demographic resilience through replacement migration, stressing the importance of effective management to safeguard human security. Lastly, the roundtable on Turkey’s role highlighted the country’s strategic manoeuvres in the Eastern Mediterranean amidst ongoing conflicts, particularly its extraordinary relationship with Iran. Overall, the workshop fostered a deep understanding of the dynamic issues in the Mediterranean, encouraging collaborative and informed approaches to achieving regional peace and stability.


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