MENARA Paper Published: Challenging the State in the Middle East and North Africa: The Role of Identities

The latest collaborative article by Al Akhawayn University, in the framework of the EU/MENARA project, entitled “Challenging the State in the Middle East and North Africa: The Role of Identities” is now published. The study in question is the product of the AUI team composed of Dr. Djallil Lounnas, Dr. Driss Maghaoui, and lead author Dr. Nizzar Messari. Additional contributors also include Al Akhawayn partners from the Instituto Affari Internatzionali (IAI) in Rome, and the Public Policy and Democracy Studies (PODEM) Research Center of Istanbul.

The purpose of this paper is to define and explore challenges to the state, determine their regional roots, and discern their role in shaping identities within the MENA region. The paper emphasizes two key aspects of nationalism in the region. The first aspect concerns the existence of both multiple and layered identities that co-exist within the region while not necessarily clashing with one another. The second aspect discusses how nationalism and national identities are not recent phenomena in the region. The paper demonstrates that there are similarities as well as differences among the three major sub-regions of the MENA area in terms of the impact of identities when put to varying levels of analysis.