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  • Mediterranean Futures 2030 Toward A Transatlantic Security Strategy Peter Engelke, Lisa Aronsson, and Magnus Nordenman

  • ISBN: 978-1-61977-447-6

    Cover art: Lonely Olive Tree by Elise Palmigiani (elise-palmigiani.pixels.com). Olive trees, found across the Mediterranean basin, are powerful and ancient cultural symbols, often invoking wisdom, bountifulness, and resilience.

    This report is written and published in accordance with the Atlantic Council Policy on Intellectual Independence. The authors are solely responsible for its analysis and recommendations. The Atlantic Council and its donors do not determine, nor do they necessarily endorse or advocate for, any of this report’s conclusions.

    January 2017

    Mediterranean Futures 2030 Toward A Transatlantic Security Strategy Peter Engelke, Lisa Aronsson, and Magnus Nordenman

  • Table of contents

    Foreword ......................................................................................................................................... 1

    Executive Summary .................................................................................................................... 2

    Introduction .................................................................................................................................... 4

    Drivers of Change in the Mediterranean ............................................................................. 6

    Scenarios for the Mediterranean in 2030 .......................................................................... 15

    Toward a Strategy for the Mediterranean ........................................................................... 23

    Conclusion ...................................................................................................................................... 27

    About the Authors ....................................................................................................................... 29

    Acknowledgments ....................................................................................................................... 29

  • Mediterranean Futures 2030: Toward A Transatlantic Security Strategy

    1 ATLANTIC COUNCIL

    The security interests of the transatlantic community and the Mediterranean region have been closely intertwined for centuries, but never more so than today. The current turbulence along the southern rim of the Mediterranean has caused, among other things, state failure, a new wave of deadly terrorism with regional and global aspirations, and refugee flows into and through Europe on a scale not seen since the end of World War II. This all occurs within the context of the massive human suffering currently being experienced in the region itself.

    The instability in the region has also had an impact far beyond its epicenter, with the British vote to leave the European Union clearly influenced by concerns that Europe has been unable to properly respond to the migrant crisis in its south. The Syrian civil war has also allowed Russia to re-insert itself into the Middle East, further complicating efforts to end conflicts and promote the spread of liberal values. Turkey is also under pressure from many directions as a result of the ever-changing security environment in the broader region, and is drifting away from its transatlantic partners whom it sees as unwilling to protect Ankara’s interests.

    At the same time, European nations have experienced a string of high-profile terror attacks, inspired or directed by the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), a sprawling group that still holds significant territory in the region as of this writing. The rise and violence of ISIS have also affected American politics, where counter-terrorism is once again at the forefront of foreign policy discussions in Washington and a top priority of the incoming US administration.

    Little of this was foreseen by decision makers on both sides of the Atlantic and the Mediterranean region just a few years ago. The strategic surprise has hampered the international response to the multifaceted crisis in the broader Middle East, has made coordination and cooperation among the many actors difficult, and has meant that the measures applied appear short-sighted and incremental. It has raised new questions about the capacity of established institutions like NATO and the European Union to adapt to meeting twenty-first-century challenges.

    That is why this report is important. “Mediterranean Futures 2030: Toward a Transatlantic Security Strategy,” written by a team of the Atlantic Council’s experts, seeks to go beyond the crisis headlines of the day, discern the key drivers of strategic events and trends in the Mediterranean region, and devise a strategic framework for discussions about the future of the region.

    This report brings much-needed intellectual grist for building a sustainable and long-term transatlantic strategy, in partnership with the nations of the region, for the Mediterranean basin in order to set it on a more peaceful, prosperous, and socially sustainable path. While the region is in turmoil today, and seems likely to remain turbulent for some time to come, it is not without its sources of strength, including energy resources, a population eager for change, a vibrant labor pool, and a strategic location as a crossroads of international trade and exchange. Mediterranean Futures 2030 will help the transatlantic policy community imagine that better future, while avoiding the many pitfalls that lie ahead.

    Foreword Ambassador Alexander Vershbow

  • Mediterranean Futures 2030: Toward A Transatlantic Security Strategy

    2ATLANTIC COUNCIL

    The famous French historian Fernand Braudel emphasized the “longue” over the “courte durée” in his magisterial study of the Mediterranean in the age of Philip II. This report also takes the long view, examining the structural factors that help drive day- to-day events.

    Touching three major regions—Europe, Africa, and the Middle East—the Mediterranean is in a vortex of change coming from all different directions. The Mediterranean region’s political, economic, physical, and cultural stability is increasingly in doubt. Without an understanding of the key drivers of change and their interaction, there is little possibility of developing a viable strategy for reversing the trends and achieving stability. This publication examines the needed roles of the United States, EU, and NATO to counter the slide towards instability and potential conflict.

    A stable Mediterranean remains critical for Western security. Not tackling the underlying problems means that we will be fighting crisis after crisis without a chance of getting ahead of them. Foresight studies, such as this, are only valuable if they lead to strategic action.

    Demography and Destiny For centuries, the Mediterranean has been a conduit for the exchange of peoples and their beliefs and talents as well as goods. The problem now is that there is a demographic imbalance with higher birth rates in the Middle East and Africa and little or no employment outlet for the youths in their societies. Moreover, in the Sahel and sub-Saharan Africa, climate change and water scarcity are undermining agricultural livelihoods and spurring migration.

    Wealthier countries have always been magnets for those in search of better employment opportunities and superior education. The worsening civil war in Syria has unleashed a flood of refugees, many of whom have transited southern Europe in search of better job opportunities in Germany and Scandinavia. Further conflict in the Middle East cannot be ruled out even if a ceasefire in Syria is finally agreed.

    The bottom line is that migratory pressures are here to stay. Migrants are potential assets for aging European countries if they can be economically integrated. Critical for stability on both sides of the Mediterranean

    Executive Summary

    will be ways to regulate flows, not to stifle them. It is to Europe’s long-term advantage if talented Africans and Middle Easterners better their education in its schools and universities. Europe, like other advanced economies, will need highly educated workers as skills gaps widen.

    Africans, Middle Easterners, and their countries could benefit from studying and working in Europe. China, South Korea, and other rapidly developing countries have succeeded because they invested heavily in their workers, sending the brightest to the US and Europe for their education. Having economically successful countries around Europe’s borders is one of the best ways to ensure stability.

    Climate Change Water scarcity and agricultural losses were root causes of the Syrian civil war. The current flow of migrants, especially from the Sahel and Sub-Saharan Africa, has intensified also due to systemic droughts and worsening agricultural conditions. Africa and parts of the Middle East need large-scale development assistance if they are to mitigate the worst impacts and avoid societal strife. There can be no true stability in the Mediterranean region without an antidote to the social and economic ravages of climate change.

    Continuous Political Upheaval Less than a decade ago, before the 2008 Great Recession, southern Europeans appeared to be on track to narrow the economic divide with richer northern Europeans. Now, however, southern Europeans have been thrust into an extended economic crisis in which youth unemployment has spiraled and growth has ground to a halt. Nine years later, an economic bl