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“Something wicked this way comes”: case studies. Background to the new extremist challenge in the Middle East and North Africa

George Joffé, 20 April 2015

In a previous NOREF report (”Something Wicked This Way Comes”: Background to the New Extremist Challenge in the Middle East and North Africa ), the background to recent events in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) was analysed. The report suggested that, firstly, geopolitical and energy issues meant that Western states could not avoid engagement with the region and that, secondly, past Western engagement had left a legacy that had severely degraded the West’s relations with it. It went on to suggest that one consequence of this had been that the emergence of extremist groups in the region had far more to do with this estrangement between the MENA region and the West than with issues of doctrinal or ideological commitment. The report also suggested that there were quite specific regional issues that reflected these concerns and further explained why there appeared to have been such a radical reordering of priorities in the past 18 months. Among the issues it identified were the ongoing crisis in relations between Israel and the Palestinians; the aftermaths of the “Arab Spring” of 2011; the crises that emerged as a result in Libya, Syria and Yemen; and the growth of extremism throughout the region, as typified by the Islamic State. This report seeks to unpack these issues and demonstrate how they contribute towards the generalised regional crisis through which the MENA region is passing at present by examining particular cases.

Click here for the initial report

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