In Search of a Middle East and North Africa Peace System

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SAGE Publications


This article examines the strengths and weaknesses of the peace system in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). It views peace not merely as the absence of direct violence but as the result of institutions and systems that mitigate, defuse, and diminish conflict. The peace system of MENA operates at multiple scales and deals with multiple kinds of violent conflict. Different system components produce different forms of positive and negative peace through both formal and informal institutional channels. Consequently, peace in MENA is often uneven and unstable, with progress in one dimension coming at the expense of another. Understanding the gaps and inconsistencies within the MENA peace system can help devise a more realistic and feasible approach to conflict resolution rather than abstract and ultimately impractical ideals. The article identifies shortcomings in the current explanations for the frequency of war, explores the idea of a regional peace system that operates in regional and domestic arenas both formally and informally, and examines policy measures that might bolster or undercut the MENA peace system.