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10/2/15

Europe’s Powerlessness in the Middle East - (but why not ?) - by Judy Dempsey

Russia’s recently launched bombing of opposition targets in Syria is a brutal reminder of the decline of Western influence in the Middle East and North Africa.

In Afghanistan, the growing military might of Taliban fighters, who are now in open warfare with Afghan security forces, has exposed the weaknesses of the NATO-led mission in that country. Since the alliance’s withdrawal from Afghanistan in December 2014 after an eleven-year stint there, the country is lurching into another war.

Meanwhile, the United States’ decision to leave Iraq in December 2011, when the government in Baghdad was paralyzed by sectarian interests and the security forces were unprepared for later taking on the so-called Islamic State, has plunged the country into a new war.


And don’t forget Libya, where in March 2011 a NATO-led mission used its United Nations mandate, anchored in the responsibility to protect, to get rid of Libyan strongman leader Muammar Qaddafi. But NATO didn’t bother to consider the day after. The vacuum was filled by a plethora of competing tribes, Islamist forces, and a handful of genuine democrats. State building is not their priority, nor was it NATO’s.

The European Union’s 28 member states are now collectively faced with three unpalatable truths that expose Europe’s appalling lack of strategy, foresight, and understanding of crisis management.

Russia’s recently launched bombing of opposition targets in Syria is a brutal reminder of the decline of Western influence in the Middle East and North Africa.

In Afghanistan, the growing military might of Taliban fighters, who are now in open warfare with Afghan security forces, has exposed the weaknesses of the NATO-led mission in that country. Since the alliance’s withdrawal from Afghanistan in December 2014 after an eleven-year stint there, the country is lurching into another war.

Meanwhile, the United States’ decision to leave Iraq in December 2011, when the government in Baghdad was paralyzed by sectarian interests and the security forces were unprepared for later taking on the so-called Islamic State, has plunged the country into a new war.

And don’t forget Libya, where in March 2011 a NATO-led mission used its United Nations mandate, anchored in the responsibility to protect, to get rid of Libyan strongman leader Muammar Qaddafi. But NATO didn’t bother to consider the day after. The vacuum was filled by a plethora of competing tribes, Islamist forces, and a handful of genuine democrats. State building is not their priority, nor was it NATO’s.

The European Union’s 28 member states are now collectively faced with three unpalatable truths that expose Europe’s appalling lack of strategy, foresight, and understanding of crisis management.

Note EU-Digest: The question which should be asked is if Europe really needs to be involved militarily in the Middle East and even in the NATO for that matter. Not that the EU has  to rupture the "Atlantic Alliance" but it should rather define more precisely what Europe's objectives should be in this alliance. Reviving the old cold war ideology of us and them is certainly not a valuable anymore in the world of today. 

Read more: Strategic Europe - Carnegie Europe - Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

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