Working Group Europe and the MENA-region

Working Group Members



About the Working Group Europe and the MENA-region

Since the “Arab Spring” the MENA region has been undergoing rapid, complex and contentious processes of change. The political upheavals has deepened fragmentation along many fault-lines and ignited the region’s latent contradictions, turning them into open, sometimes bloody conflict: between religious and secular social forces, Sunnis and Shiites, rich and poor, men and women, state and non-state actors and, overall, between an authoritarian elite and a younger, more dynamic and forward-looking generation. As people claim the newly won political spaces, they are confronted with growing repression and authoritarianism. All this is taking place on top of the intractable Israeli-Palestinian conflict and amid the ongoing self-serving involvement of external powers in internal regional dynamics in a manner that has exacerbated the region’s volatility thus making it a major security and humanitarian concern for the immediate neighbors to the North.

The European Union, in turn, is ill-equipped to cope with both the humanitarian and the security dimensions of these regional transformations and conflicts. On the institutional level, Euro-Mediterranean relations suffer from overtly complex organizational structures and weak performance. The political responses to the uprisings of 2011 have been limited both in scope and depth. They reflect rather pluri- and bilateral approaches (EU and individual ENP/Barcelona states) than a coherent approach to the region. Moreover, the EU and its member states have great difficulties to exert their political leverage in the context of the presence of other external actors such as the US and GCC member states.

European countries themselves are caught in their own protracted economic, political and social crises with lasting impacts on their welfare states. European societies are witnessing a rise in racist and xenophobic attitudes – including Islamophobia – that might translate into stricter anti-migration policies. These dynamics are further intensified by an influx of refugees from Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Libya, Iraq, Somalia and South Sudan – all countries which suffer from conditions of precarious statehood. At the same time, political violence by Islamists in Europe is fueling the anxieties and prejudices of Europeans.

The social, political and economic dynamics on both shores of the Mediterranean are closely linked. The uprisings in some parts of the Arab world have had, and will continue to have far reaching consequences for the MENA region, and for its economic and political relations with Europe. In light of this, the central research question is: How has the “Arab Spring” affected political and economic relations in the Arab world and with Europe?

Pertinent sub-topics include:

1. Current European and Arab approaches to intra- and inter-state conflicts and security issues.

2. Migration related topics including but not limited to (anti-) migration policies, political economy of migration and the rise of Islamophobia and racism.

3. The modes and forms of cooperation and the role of private-sector, non-state, and municipal/local-government actors in the context of EU-MENA relations.

Top ↑


Cilja Harders, Chair
Cilja Harders is the director of the Center for Middle Eastern and North African Politics at the Otto-Suhr Institute for Political Sciences at Freie Universität Berlin. She has extensive research experience in the Middle East with a focus on Egypt dating back to 1992. Cilja Harders has published on transformations and politics “from below”, Arab-European Relations and gender relations. Among her latest publications is a book on “Local Politics and Contemporary Transformations in the Arab World” (2013) with Palgrave.

Cilja Harders is the speaker of “Europe in the Middle East – the Middle East in Europe”, a joint post-doc program of the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin, Thyssen-Foundation and the Berlin-Brandenburgische Akademie der Wissenschaften. She is currently leading a project on the “Challenges and Transformations in the Wake of the Arab Spring” with Cairo University, funded by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD, 2012-2015). In 2010 Cilja Harders served as an independent expert in the DG Research SSH Foresight activity on Euro-Mediterranean relations.

The Center for Middle Eastern and North African Politics is a co-applicant in MERID (Middle East Research and Innovation Dialogue, 2015-2017), funded by the EU. It is also co-applicant and work-package leader in EMNES (Euro-Mediterranean Network for Economic Studies) under the EU’s Horizon 2020 framework (2015-2017).

Prof. Claus Offe, Co-Chair
Claus Offe teaches Political Sociology at the Hertie School of Governance. He completed his PhD at the University of Frankfurt and his Habilitation at the University of Konstanz. In Germany, he has held chairs for Political Science and Political Sociology at the Universities of Bielefeld (1975-1989) and Bremen (1989-1995), as well as at the Humboldt-University of Berlin (1995-2005). He has worked as fellow and visiting professor at, among others, the Institutes for Advanced Study in Stanford, Princeton, the Australian National University, Harvard University, the University of California at Berkeley and the New School University, New York.

Nikolas Scherer, Research Associate
Nikolas Scherer was already involved in the previous Dahrendorf project on ‘Climate Change’ as PhD fellow and research assistant to the working group ‘Europe and the World’. Beyond his involvement in the Dahrendorf project, Nikolas is pursuing a PhD in Governance at the Hertie School exploring the rise of ‘climate insurances’. Before joining the Hertie School and the Dahrendorf project, Nikolas studied International Relations (MA with distinction) at the University of Warwick, UK and Governance & Public Policy (BA) at the University of Passau and Rome (‚La Sapienza’). In 2014 Nikolas was Visiting PhD Student at LSE IDEAS, London School of Economics. In 2010 Nikolas was an intern with the German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP) contributing to its research program on North Africa and the Middle East, and worked as student and teaching assistant at the University of Passau. As member of the European Youth Parliament (EYP), he helped organizing youth conferences to raise awareness for European politics and motivate students to get engaged in European issues.

Ahmed Badawi, Member
Dr Ahmed Badawi is a Senior Researcher at the Free University Berlin. Prior, he worked as a researcher at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP). He held positions as Research Associate at the Institute of Development and Peace (University Duisburg-Essen), the Oxford Research Group, the International Crisis Group and Zentrum Moderner Orient. Prior to leaving Egypt in 1999 he used to work as a journalist and as a community development specialist. He is a trained group facilitator, has an MSc in Development Studies from SOAS (University of London) and a PhD in Political Science from Humboldt University in Berlin

Franziska Brantner, Member
Franziska Brantner has been a Member of the German Bundestag and the Greens group in the Bundestag (Bündnis 90/Die Grünen) from Heidelberg since October 2013.  Since December 2013 she is the Spokeswoman for children’s and family policy, since March 2014 the Chairwoman of the Subcommittee on Civilian Crisis Prevention, Conflict Management and Integrated Action. In addition she is a substitute member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs as well as a substitute member of the Committee on the Affairs of the European Union. Franziska Brantner is a Trustee of Friends of Europe, the
Brussels-based think tank that aims to stimulate new thinking on global and European issues that span political, economic, social and environmental challenges, which is part of the Europe’s World Group.

Annette Jünemann , Member
Annette Jünemann is Professor for Political Science and International Relations at the Helmut-Schmidt University, Hamburg (University of the Armed Forces). Her main areas of research are: international relations, Euro-med relations, democracy promotion and protection as well as gender studies. Among her recent publications are “Der Arabische Frühling. Eine Analyse der Determinanten europäischer Mittelmeerpolitik“ [The Arab Spring. Determinants of European politics in the Mediterranean] (with Julia Simon) (2015) and „Arabellions. Zur Vielfalt von Protest und Revolte im Nahen Osten und Nordafrika. [Arabellions. Varieties of protest and revolts in the MENA region] (ed. with Anja Zorob) (2013).
Annette Jünemann obtained an MA from the Ludwig-Maximilians-University in Munich in 1985 and a PhD from the University of Hamburg in 1993. From 1991 – 1999 she was Assistant Professor and from 2000 – 2003 Associate Professor at the University of Kassel, Institute for European Studies. From 1998 – 2000 she was research fellow at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP). From 1998 – 2005 Jünemann was Visiting Professor at the Chulangkorn University of Bangkok. From 2001 – 2003 she was Associate Professor for Political Science at the University of the German Armed Forces in Munich.

Lina Khatib, Member
Lina Khatib is research associate at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), London and was director of the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut until September 2015. Previously, she was the co-founding head of the Program on Arab Reform and Democracy at Stanford University’s Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law. Her research interests include the international relations of the Middle East, Islamist groups, political transitions, and foreign policy. She has also published widely on public diplomacy, political communication, and political participation in the Middle East. Khatib has published seven books, including Image Politics in the Middle East: The Role of the Visual in Political Struggle (I. B. Tauris, 2013), Taking to the Streets: The Transformation of Arab Activism (co-edited with Ellen Lust, Johns Hopkins University Press, 2014), and The Hizbullah Phenomenon: Politics and Communication (co-authored with Dina Matar and Atef Alshaer, Hurst/Oxford University Press, 2014). Her published journal articles include “Qatar’s Foreign Policy: The Limits of Pragmatism,” “Public Diplomacy 2.0,” and “Hizbullah’s Political Strategy.”

Fouad Gehad Marei, Member
Fouad Gehad Marei is post-doctoral fellow at the Free University Berlin (Center for Middle Eastern and North African Politics) since 2013. He was awarded a PhD in International Relations from Durham University in 2012. Based on extensive fieldwork in Syria, Lebanon and elsewhere in the Middle East, Fouad’s research focuses on state-society relations, political economy of development and political culture in deeply divided and post-conflict societies. His other research interests include authoritarianism, informal networks, and political transformations in the contemporary Middle East. In addition to his academic work, since 2005 he has worked with several NGOs and civil society groups in Egypt and Lebanon. In 2012/2013, he undertook fieldwork in conflict-stricken Syria and authored a number of policy papers examining in-country civilian opposition and local administration structures, and the emerging justice and security sectors in rebel-held areas. Dr. Marei’s working languages are English and Arabic.

Ahmed Abd Rabou, Visiting Fellow
Ahmed Abd Rabou is currently a Visiting Scholar at the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Denver’s Josef Korbel School of International Studies. Originally from Cairo, he is an assistant professor of comparative politics at both Cairo University and the American University in Cairo (AUC). He spent eight years in Japan, where he obtained his MA from Meiji University and his PhD from Hokkaido University. He wrote his thesis on policy networks and decision-making processes in East Asia, focusing on policy reforms in education and foreign aid.After Egypt’s January 25, 2011 revolution Abd Rabou returned to Cairo, where he initiated a political awareness group called Misr Elbahyea and engaged in initiatives to raise political awareness among Egyptians with a focus on youth, minorities and impoverished groups. He became a figure in the Egyptian media, conducting a series of public talks and analyses on democratization and transitions in Egypt and elsewhere in the Arab Spring. He writes a weekly column for the newspapers Elshrouk Daily and Eltahrir Daily and CNN (Arabic version). He also writes articles in English and in Japanese for the Japan Times and Mainichi. Abd Rabou has published several articles in peer-reviewed journals on democratization in Egypt and other Arab nations. He is also known among Egyptian scholars for his specialization in civil-military relations, political Islam and democratization in Egypt, on which he currently focuses his research. He is now completing a book titled A Comparative Study of Civil-Military Relations in Egypt and Turkey, which will be published by the Arab Reform Initiative.

Marie Kortam, Visiting Fellow
Marie Kortam is an associate researcher at the Institut Français du Proche-Orient (IFPO – Beirut) and a member of th Arab Council for Social Sciences. She holds a PhD in Sociology and a Master in Social Sciences applied to Expertise, Research and Innovation from the University of Paris-Diderot. She has a professional Master in Information-Communication and a Master in Social Work from Saint- Joseph’s University in Beirut. Marie received a research grant award of the Arab Reform Initiative 2015/2016 under the theme “Democratic transition: process and actors” for her research project “Terms and forms of engagement of Lebanese to fight Syrian authoritarian regime”, and she was awarded a Research grant of the Arab Council for the Social Sciences in 2014/2016 under the theme “Inequality, Mobility and Development” for her research project “Urban geography of social inequalities in Tripoli-Lebanon”. In 2014 she was invited as a visiting research fellow to the Christian Michelsen Institute in Bergen. From 1999 to 2004 she worked as a social worker in urban deprived area in Tripoli and in UNRWA. Marie focuses her research on “globalized violence” based on diverse fieldwork in Lebanon and France. She developed a comparative research project, examining increasingly segregated spaces, reconfigurations and practices of violence. She is the author of two books and numerous journal articles and book chapters on violence, conflict, inequalities, identities, radicalization process, Palestinian refugees and segregation.