Who put the ‘Post’ in the Post-Arab Spring?
When will we see a regional UN headquarter for migration in Rabat, or an international center of excellence for ocean studies in Tripoli? In a new policy note, NAI researcher Mikael Eriksson recommends outside-the-box thinking, in an effort to gain a fresh perspective on North Africa, a region that may have lost its spring-time energy, but not the idea itself – or the people behind it.
In the aftermath of the so-called Arab Spring, the dominant image of North Africa has been one of turmoil, crisis and deteriorating human rights. According to Mikael Eriksson, researcher at the Swedish Defence Research Agency (FOI) and the Nordic Africa Institute (NAI), this negative narrative is fueling mistrust about what the region and its citizens can contribute to international relations in general, and to human-to-human relationships in particular.
“It is high time this simplistic and negative view of North Africa is overhauled. There is much to be gained from taking a fresh approach to the question of how to interact with the region – as opposed to making policy recommendations solely on the basis of negative stereotypes,” says Mikael Eriksson.
Much has happened in North Africa over the past six years. While the states in the region seem to have adjusted fairly well to the new realities, their citizens – particularly their young people – continue to struggle and aspire to dignity, democratic practices and human rights. Civil society is more vibrant than ever. The states are modernizing, reforming and seeking a role in regional and international affairs, despite the challenges they face.
“Rather than speaking of North Africa exclusively as a region plagued by violence and authoritarianism, it is time to re-engage the region by thinking outside the box,” says Mikael Eriksson.
On the cover: Windows in the Mosque of Hassan II in Casablanca. Photo by Christopher Rose, Flickr, CC BY-NC 2.0.