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

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 & Governance; Fragility & Resilience; Mediation, Negotiation & Dialogue; Violent Extremism; Youth

Community-Based Dialogues for Reconciliation in Libya

Community-Based Dialogues for Reconciliation in Libya

Through the Community-Based Dialogues for Reconciliation project in Libya, USIP has built the capacity of local leaders in conflict analysis, transitional justice, and dialogue facilitation. USIP is now mentoring these individuals, who are from three conflict-affected areas in Libya—Sebha, Ubari, and Nalut-Siyaan—through the process of implementing community dialogues. The goal of this project, which is funded by the State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, is to build trust between these fractured communities, ultimately resulting in increased social cohesion and longterm, sustainable reconciliation and peace. The project began in October 2018 and will conclude in April 2021.

Mediation, Negotiation & Dialogue; Reconciliation

Informing Criminal Justice Reform in Libya

Informing Criminal Justice Reform in Libya

The Informing Criminal Justice Reform in Libya project was launched in July 2020 to fill existing knowledge gaps on correctional facilities in Libya and the criminal justice system in the Fezzan region. In partnership with the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL), this project aims to strengthen the rule of law in Libya by providing the international community and Libyan officials with a more complete picture of the region’s institutions, as well as actionable recommendations to inform the development and implementation of future policy and programming.

Democracy & Governance; Justice, Security & Rule of Law

Conflict and Stabilization Monitoring Framework

Conflict and Stabilization Monitoring Framework

The Conflict and Stabilization Monitoring Framework (CSMF) is a data collection tool adapted to the Iraq context from USIP’s Measuring Progress in Conflict Environments framework. CSMF collects data directly from Iraq’s conflict-affected communities using a set of 48 indicators tied to four core conflict and stabilization dynamics: community security, rule of law, governance, and livelihoods. The CSMF was created to establish a robust evidence base for peacebuilding in Iraq using systemic, longitudinal data.

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Featured Publications

Afghanistan Withdrawal Should Be Based on Conditions, Not Timelines

Afghanistan Withdrawal Should Be Based on Conditions, Not Timelines

Thursday, November 19, 2020

By: Scott Worden

The Taliban’s tactic of running out the clock on the U.S. troop presence may bear fruit after the announcement on Tuesday that U.S. forces will reduce to 2,500 by January 15. The Trump administration successfully created leverage by engaging directly with the Taliban to meet their paramount goal of a U.S. withdrawal in exchange for genuine peace talks and counterterrorism guarantees. This strategy brought about unprecedented negotiations between Afghan government representatives and the Taliban in Doha. A walk down a conditions-based path to peace, long and winding as it may be, had begun.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Peace Processes

Libya: Peace Talks Advance, But Will Need Local Support

Libya: Peace Talks Advance, But Will Need Local Support

Thursday, November 19, 2020

By: Nate Wilson

Libyans have taken an uncertain step toward ending nearly a decade of civil war, agreeing in U.N.-mediated talks to hold national elections in December 2021. The discussions, in the neighboring capital, Tunis, fell short of yielding a transitional government to oversee the elections and the establishment of a new constitution. The talks are shortly to resume. From Tunis, USIP’s Nate Wilson notes that the step is positive for a country that began 2020 with a surge in warfare and the involvement of foreign forces. Making this peace effort effective will require restraining that foreign involvement, he says, and will need to ground the talks in grassroots support.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Peace Processes

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