The U.S. Institute of Peace established the Middle East North Africa Center (MENA) to prevent, mitigate, and resolve violent conflicts in the area stretching from Iran to Morocco by engaging directly in conflicts zones, providing policy analysis to the U.S. government and resources to those working for peace in this region.  To do this, our experts engage local, national, and regional actors in participatory processes that promote sustainable peace.

Within this wide region, the MENA Center has programs on:

  • The Middle East: Our MENA Middle East program focuses primarily on Iraq and Syria, where we work to promote reconciliation and social cohesion by engaging religious, civic, and tribal leaders in action-oriented dialogues.
  • North Africa: MENA’s North Africa program focuses on TunisiaLibya, and Egypt, where we work to strengthen the rule of law and promote non-violent conflict resolution through facilitation and mediation in country-specific dialogue projects.
  • The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: The MENA Center works to inform policy, bridge divides, strengthen Palestinian institutions, and prepare the ground for peace in the Israeli-Palestinian and broader Arab-Israeli arena. We serve as a trusted convener to inform policy considerations and approaches, support inclusive dialogue between religious and ideological communities, foster trust-building and cooperation between Israeli and Palestinian institutions, and strengthen grassroots capacity to create an environment conducive to a sustainable Israeli-Palestinian and Arab-Israeli peace.
  • MENA’s Iran program runs The Iran Primer, which provides original articles, analysis, data, timelines, policy statements and other resources on Iran’s politics, economy, military, foreign policy, and nuclear program on a website co-hosted with the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.
  • In partnership with the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, MENA’s Islamist program focuses on the origins, evolution, and positions of Islamist movements in the Middle East. These movements are redefining the order and borders in the world’s most volatile region, yet they have diverse goals and different constituencies that sometimes rival each other. 

Current Projects

مرصد النزاع وإعادة الاستقرار

مرصد النزاع وإعادة الاستقرار

إن مرصد النزاع وإعادة الاستقرار (CSMF )، يشار إليه لاحقاً "المرصد"، هو أداة لجمع البيانات جرى تكييفها لتلائم السياق العراقي وهي مستمدّة من إطار معهد الولايات المتحدة للسلام لقياس مدى التقدّم المحرز في بيئات النزاع. يقوم هذا المرصد بجمع البيانات مباشرة من المجتمعات المحلية المتضررة من النزاع في العراق باستخدام مجموعة من 92 مؤشراً مرتبطة بخمسة مواضيع أساسية وتحقيق الاستقرار وهي الحوكمة؛ والمصالحة والعدالة؛ والتماسك الاجتماعي والرفاه؛ وسيادة القانون؛ والسلامة والأمن. ولقد تم إجراء جلسات التحقق مع أعضاء المجتمع باستخدام بيانات من الجولة الرابعة، وتم استكمال البيانات من الجولتين الرابعة والخامسة بمقابلات المخبرين الرئيسيين مع صانعي القرار المحليين. ويؤسّس هذا المرصد قاعدة أدلة قوية لبناء السلام في العراق باستخدام بيانات نظامية وطولية عبر فترات زمنية مختلفة. وتُوفّر هذه البيانات رؤى دقيقة يمكن أن تسترشد بها الجهود المبذولة للتخفيف من حدّة النّزاع العنيف وفي بعض الأحيان تسائل الافتراضات الشائعة بشأن العوائق التي تحول دون تحقيق السلام.

The Islamists

The Islamists

In 2012, USIP and the Woodrow Wilson Center published “The Islamists are Coming: Who They Really Are”—an original book and regularly updated website—to provide information and analysis about the diverse spectrum of Islamist political movements; from peaceful groups to jihadi extremists.

The Iran Primer

The Iran Primer

In 2010, USIP and the Woodrow Wilson Center launched “The Iran Primer”—an original book and regularly updated website—to provide resources and education about Iran, which has been one of the thorniest foreign policy issues for the United States since 1979. The website continues to cover Iran’s domestic politics and foreign relations, the economy, the military, its nuclear and missile programs, and U.S. policy. The project’s goal is to help develop a better understanding of the challenges Iran poses and reduce the likelihood of violent conflict. Featuring book chapters and articles by more than 80 leading experts from 20 think tanks, eight universities, and six U.S. administrations, it has become the world’s most comprehensive source for data and analysis on the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Alliance of Tunisian Facilitators (ATF)

Alliance of Tunisian Facilitators (ATF)

Despite the degree of stability that Tunisia has achieved since its 2011 revolution, there are still obstacles to democratic consolidation, as well as unaddressed issues that threaten social and political stability—such as growing economic disparities, deepening mistrust between civil society and the government, weak local governments, and the difficult process of achieving meaningful institutional reforms.

Democracy & GovernanceFragility & ResilienceMediation, Negotiation & DialogueViolent ExtremismYouth

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Featured Publications

Can Arab States Bounce Back from COVID and Climates Crises?

Can Arab States Bounce Back from COVID and Climates Crises?

Thursday, September 15, 2022

By: Mona Yacoubian

More than two years into the pandemic, Arab states continue to struggle with the economic and social impacts of COVID-19. Meanwhile, climate change is devastating the region — and its governments are ill-equipped to address massive problems like water scarcity and scorching temperatures. Even before COVID, much of the region was wracked by conflict, embroiled in social tension, suffering from lagging economies and witnessing growing disquiet over the unrealized aspirations of the Arab uprisings. These challenges are detailed in the U.N. Development Programme’s recently released 2022 Arab Human Development Report, which also lays out a path for an “inclusive and resilient recovery.”

Type: Analysis and Commentary

EnvironmentFragility & ResilienceGlobal Health

Sarhang Hamasaeed on Iraq’s Deepening Political Stalemate

Sarhang Hamasaeed on Iraq’s Deepening Political Stalemate

Wednesday, September 7, 2022

By: Sarhang Hamasaeed

After recent episodes of violence, Iraq’s political stalemate continues. “Bottom line … this is a fight over power” and differing views on foreign influence, says USIP’s Sarhang Hamasaeed. “The Iraqi people are actually fighting for democracy. It is just the political class … that makes that a longer fight.”

Type: Podcast

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