Hivos International

Geopolitics

Giving in Transition and Transitions in Giving

The many seasons of the Arab Spring have contributed to shaping, changing and coloring this publication. What started in late 2011 as a rapid scan of practices of local philanthropy in three Arab countries, then setting out on hopeful political transitions, became a protracted series of shifts in its own right. As events lurched ahead, forms of giving expanded, retrenched or paused depending on the trajectory of political developments and popular sentiment. Over many drafts, we came to realize that capturing important features of emerging philanthropy required us to encounter it afresh in a different territory, namely, a study of philanthropy in becoming and in revolution.

Meeting Report: Al Qaeda's Resurgence in North Africa?

On Tuesday, 17 December 2013, ICCT - The Hague and Hivos jointly hosted the seminar “After the Mali Intervention: Al Qaeda's Resurgence in North Africa?” at the International Press Centre, Nieuwspoort. The French military offensive in Mali that followed the January 2013 intervention severely degraded the capabilities of militant organisations linked to al Qaeda.

Summary Report Challenges to Transitional Justice in Syria: Facing the Geopolitical Context

On Wednesday, 12 March, The Hague Institute hosted a roundtable titled, “Challenges to Transitional Justice (TJ) in Syria – Facing the Geopolitical Context.” Part of the Institute's Roundtable Series, the event was organized in close collaboration with Impunity Watch, PAX and HIVOS. It gathered a select group of approximately 30 practitioners, legal scholars from academic and non-governmental institutions, and Dutch policymakers.

Geopolitics and democracy in the Middle East

The Middle East and North Africa is undergoing a profound geopolitical reconfiguration. Since the 2011 popular revolutions, the region has transitioned from great hopes for democratisation towards a spiral of violence, fragmentation and fragility.

To understand the recent advances and gains by the Islamic State (IS, formerly Islamic State in Iraq and Syria or ISIS) in both Iraq and Syria and to explore future prospects, we need to go back to the origins of Al-Qaeda in Syria and Lebanon between 2000 and 2013. After 9/11 and 2003, both the Syrian and Iranian regimes saw and used Al-Qaeda as a ‘potential ally’ in their conflict with the United States but, simultaneously, viewed it as a dangerous enemy. But Damascus and Teheran were not the only capitals that used Al-Qaeda franchises as a political instrument to advance strategic interests.

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.

France has traditionally been a pragmatic geopolitical player in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). In spite of some changes in nuance, neither regional shifts brought about by the ‘Arab spring’ nor François Hollande’s presidency have changed the essentials of the so-called politique arabe de la France: retain friendly and stable relations with all MENA governments (except Syria currently) in pursuit of France’s three main interests: regional stability, energy security and arms exports.

Over the past decade, China has been increasing its economic involvement in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), evolving from its dependence on the energy trade to much broader commercial engagement.

With its "going global" strategy as a recipe for growth, Beijing became more active diplomatically in order to advance its interests in the region. In turn, with China's stature growing, some MENA countries progressively see Beijing as an additional partner to the region's traditional ties with the U.S. and Europe.

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