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Geopolitics:
Conflicts, terrorism, rivalry between
great powers and the economic crisis
The Middle East and North Africa are currently two of the world’s most
unstable regions. With local conflicts and international competition for
energy supplies, this region is likely to remain difficult to manage in the
immediate future.
It is plagued by several long-term conflicts: the and has expressed its readiness to negotiate
Israeli-Palestinian conflict; an unstable Iraq re- with rival states such as Iran and Syria. On the
covering from the US invasion and occupation downside, the elections in Israel in February
in 2003; post-electoral turmoil in Iran; repeat- 2009 brought a coalition of extreme right na-
ed clashes between the Turkish army and the tionalists to power, dashing hopes of a rapid
PKK; an unstable Lebanon on the verge of civil change in Israeli policy and respect for funda-
war; persistent terrorist attacks by al-Qaeda af- mental Palestinian rights.
filiated groups in Algeria; and enduring tension
between Algeria and Morocco over the status of Dependence on the Middle East’s fossil fuels – in
West Sahara and the Sahrawi Republic. Europe, the US and Japan, as well as the grow-
ing economies of China and India – can only in-
Over the past eight years, under the Bush ad- crease in the foreseeable future. In just 10 years
ministration, global conflicts were seen from (1995–2006) China shifted from exporting oil
the perspective of the “war against terrorism”, to being the world’s third largest oil importer.


with disastrous consequences in Iraq, Leba- European energy security depends on Algerian
non, Afghanistan and elsewhere. In reaction and Libyan exports too, and on oil from the Gulf
radical jihadi movements have gained great- or the Caspian area passing through the Suez
er legitimacy and recruiting capacity. The Canal or the Baku-Ceyhan pipeline and Medi-
new American administration, under Barack terranean ports.
Obama, has shifted US foreign policy away
from combating terror. It subscribes to the The global financial crisis started in September
principle of an international legal framework 2008 as the subprime mortgage crisis in the US

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