The Arab spring and the consequences for the global security architecture

Key Terms

Arab Spring

Term for a revolutionary wave that began on December 18 2012 in the Middle East. As of this writing, civil unrests continues in Bahrain and Syria as a consequence. In Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, and Yemen, the rulers have been exiled or driven from power. In many other countries protests are still under way.

Grass-Roots Movement

A political or social initiative which arises from the basis of society. Often it‘s aim is to make politics more focused on the interests of the people.

Middle East

Refers to a region Northeast of Africa also called the Near East. Its‘largest ethnic groups are Arabs, Turks, Persians and Jews. This region plays a very important role for the major monotheistic world religions.

The Society of the Muslim Brotherhood (short: Muslim Brotherhood)

One of the most influential Islamic Movements founded in 1928 following the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in the First World War. It receives large amounts of funding from Saudi Arabia and other oil-rich countries on the Arabian Peninsula. It supports Sunni Islam and has gained 235 of the 498 seats in the recent Egyptian elections.


The Enahda is an Islamic political party founded in 1981. It was forbidden under the dictator Ben Ali, and won 90 of the 217 seats in the 2011 Tunisian election. Even thought the Enahda has positioned itself as a moderate Party, many experts fear it will become radicalized.

Islamic Extremists

People considered as following an extreme form of Islam, often committed to a form of religious terrorism. Many Islamic extremists groups are known to engage in suicide attacks and kidnappings.

Shiite Islam

Shiite Islam is a form of Islam that is practiced in one of the largest Islamic sects, the Shia Islam. About 17% of all Muslims belong to it or to one of its many branches.
Hezbollah: The Hezbollah is a Shia Islamic militant group and political party. It receives aid from Syria and Iran, and is considered a rebel group throughout the Arab and Muslim world.


Commonly misunderstood as the “Holy War“, it actually means the “struggle in the way of Allah“. It is an important religious duty for all Muslims, yet is misused by many Islamic extremists.

Counter Terrorism

The necessary practices and strategies used to combat terrorism. Because many effective practices which would combat terrorism do not comply with internationally recognized Human Rights accords, these are highly controversial methods to maintain world stability.


Seemingly out of nowhere, uprisings began taking place in the Middle East in the spring of 2011. This was later known as the Arab Spring in which riots, civil wars, and nonviolent demonstrations led to the downfall of many dictatorships in this region. It is believed to be initiated by the peoples‘dissatisfaction and frustration with their local governments and was aided by new internet technology. The Arab Spring will undoubtedly impact regional and international the security architecture. Therefore, in order to ensure regional and global stability, dialogue with the newly formed governments and the active arrest and containment of new terrorist organizations is of highest priority for the international community.

In several countries where civil unrest has ceased and peace seems to have returned. Meanwhile the political landscape is evolving, and few groups are competing for leadership:

  • Islamic Organizations are the most powerful and influential forces in the new democracies of the Middle East. This is due to the substantial funding supplied by oil-rich countries and their powerful and influential organizations.

  • Democratic forces have had problems in the last few years because they are not sufficiently organized to assume political leadership and are fragmented into many different political parties.

  • The old regimes have in some countries survived to some extent and are still working to establish renewed legitimacy.

These Political forces are very important when considering the stability of this region. With the transition from dictatorship to democracy there is an increasing possibility for terrorist groups to gain political power and legitimacy. While some experts are convinced that the Arab Spring will weaken groups such as the Al-Qaida, others are wary. Both sides of the argument would mean a change in the global counter terrorism policies already implemented and could require new ones to be developed. It will be the duty of the Security Council to determine which measures can be implemented to undermine terrorist formations and to ensure the stability of the newly founded governments.

A nation such as Egypt could pose a threat to the regional stability. Egypt‘s former president, Hosni Mubarak, was an ally of the United States and supported them regarding the Israel-Palestine conflict. Now, the Muslim Brotherhood, which had formerly criticized Mubarak for this stance, is in control of Egypt. Because the Muslim Brotherhood, one of the oldest radical Muslim groups in Egypt, is in control, relations with Israel could become more complicated. Understanding the ideologies of radical Muslim groups is thereby of utmost importance to comprehend the impact the Arab Spring is having on the newly democratic nations of the Middle East. 


After the collapse of the Ottoman Empire at the end of the First World War the Arab tribes in the region come under the jurisdiction of many newly created nations. Many of these new countries where not “true“Islamic states, out of the opinion of these tribes. New religious groups began to emerge; the most influential was the Muslim Brotherhood. Many other radical Islamist groups emerged out of the the Muslim Brotherhood. These religious groups gained influence during the Cold War. Because many of these Islamist groups embraced with the Marxist-Leninism ideology of the Soviet Union, they received support from the Soviets, who were aiming to undermine U.S. control in the Middle East.

This situation changed in the 1980‘s. Russia invaded Afghanistan in 1979 and subsequently occupied this nation. As a consequence of the Soviet invasion, the Afghan‘s People began to rally Muslims from all around the world against this occupying force. Radical Muslims saw an opportunity to “full fill their own prophecies as the vanguards of the Muslim World“ (Nathan E. Shields). With the help of western countries and the support of Muslims from around the world, Afghanistan forced Russia to withdraw their troops. Radical Islamists used this as a proof for their legitimacy and strengthened their belief in radical Islam around the world.

Finally, the collapse of the Soviet Union gave radical Islamists the political attention they desired. Many charismatic leaders began to appear and strengthened the belief in a radical Islam, unifying many people in the pursuit of this cause. After the attack on the World Trade Center, western nations were dragged into wars in two Muslim nations, Afghanistan and Iraq. Similar to the Russian-Afghan war of the 1980s, Muslims rallied together and Islamic extremists gained further popular support in Muslim states. Today, their increasing influence of these extreme groups could impact the neighboring countries. One result could be the establishment of Islamic Rule throughout this region. Yet with all their attempts to “undermine the security apparatus or the government‘s ability to provide for its citizens through violence, they have failed“ (Nathan E. Shields 2012).


The Arab Spring only lasted for several months and was characterized by mostly non-violent protests. In contrast, the Muslim Brotherhood‘s attempts to spark a violent revolution through violence failed. The Arab Spring arose as a result of grass roots movements that were able to topple regimes without excessive bloodshed and force. The Arab Spring started in Tunisia, and quickly spread throughout the Middle East. One by one the dictatorships in the region began to collapse.

With the overthrow of these governments a political vacuum has emerged in many of these nations. Experts are concerned by the possibility that radical Islamist groups might take advantage of the situation. This can be seen in Egypt where the Muslim brotherhood, backed by Saudi Arabia and other oil-rich nations, has won almost half of the seats in the parliament. A party that had once denounced Hosni Mubarak‘s stance towards Israel is now in control. Human rights organizations are also alarmed by the Muslim Brotherhoods efforts to weaken women rights in the new Egyptian constitution. Not only does this new government threaten Egypt‘s maternal security, it has the potential to undermine the stability of this region.

Developments in Egypt

A major problem for Egypt‘s internal security is the dramatic increase in sexual assaults against women. During the Mubarak years an omnipresent police force largely cracked down on sexual assaults and ket this crime out of public view. After the revolution and the withdrawal of security forces, the situation for women has worsened drastically. On 25th Feburary 2012 the second anniversary of the revolution, 18 confirmed sexual assaults were reported. Reda Saleh Al al-Hefnawi, an Egyptian congressman from the Muslim Brotherhood, responded to this in a parliamentary meeting by stating: “How do they ask the Ministry of Interior to protect a woman when she stands among men?“. Even though the Muslim Brotherhood may not be directly responsible for these assaults, the response of several of their congressman is alarming.

Furthermore the distrust of and disagreement with the current government has lead to increasing instability in several cities in the country side. The president, who has only been in office for 11 months, and the parliament, have proven ineffective in dealing with the situation. President Mursi has tried to cease the turmoil with the help of the military, yet the lack of faith in the government with military generals on the part of the population has prevented this.

This unrest has had an alarming impact on Egypt‘s economy. An attack on the Semiramis Hotel in Egypt‘s capital last further weakened Egypt‘s current political and economic problems. This situation has increased the political indecisiveness of the parliament. With all political parties pointing the blame at each other, a weak economy, and civil unrest does not bode well for the future of this nation.

Another pressing issue for the international community is Egypt‘s shifting paradigm in regards to their relations with Israel. This could have severe consequences for the region as Egypt is a strategic ally of the U.S.A. in resolving the Israel-Palestine Conflict. For this reason, the Muslim Brotherhood‘s public support for militant groups in Palestine like the Hamas and the Hizbollah is alarming. 

Developments in Tunisia

Until now, other countries in this region, like Tunisia, have not come under the influence of major radical Islamist groups. Tunisia has a diverse economy, which was rated the most competitive in Africa in 2009 by the World Economic Forum. It also is one of Europe's most important trading partners in North Africa. Furthermore, for an Arab state, Tunisia has an exceptionally high number of women in their new parliament, over 20%. Unlike Egypt, Tunisia‘s parliament, elected October 23, 2011, has proven to be effective. For example in March 2012, the Enahda declared that it will not support the sharia as a piece of legislation in the new constitution.

Recently, though, negative developments in Tunisia have been visible. On February 6, 2013, the leftist politician and prominent critic of the Enahda, Chokri Belaid, were assassinated in front of his house. This triggered a wave of protests in Tunisia leaving several bureaus of the Enahda party devastated.

Developments in Yemen

Following almost two years of chaos in Yemen it now seems to have quieted down. The new president, Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi, a consensus candidate supported by the Gulf Cooperation Council, Western powers and the political parties inside Yemen, is currently facing a wide range of problems.

Aside from the catastrophic economic situation, ranking 8th in the 2012 Failed Sates Index, Al-Qaeda has been terrorizing the country with a series of assassinations leaving 74 military officers dead since 2012. It has effectively taken control over the entire south half of Yemen and is seeking to expand its influence. Saudi-Arabia is currently planning to build a wall between it and Yemen to prevent more Yemeni refugees from fleeing to their country.

Mr. Hadi currently fears that his own influence is dwindling and has been replacing government officials with his relatives and friends. Many criticize him for this, yet the current political polarization of the two main political parties leaves him no other option. On the one hand, the Houthi Movement is led by members of a form of Shiite Islam who are suspected of receiving aid from Iran. On the other hand, Yemen‘s main Islamic party, Islah, an equivalent to the Muslim Brotherhood, is being supported by Saudi-Arabia. In the past months rock-throwing and even gun battles have been reported between members of these two camps.

Measures to Consider

As seen in Egypt, Tunisia, and Yemen, the Arab Spring has not impacted the nations of the Middle East in a uniform manner. The potential for the radicalization of governments is of great concern and would be problematic for regional and global stability. The Security Council should establish different measures to combat political radicalization and aid the regional economies to insure their future social stability. Furthermore, evolving situations, such as the situation in Yemen regarding Al-Qaeda and in Egypt regarding the Israel-Palestine conflict, should also be considered. These will undoubtedly impact both Middle Eastern and Global Security architecture.

Counter terrorism policies are additional important measures that are worthy of consideration. As seen in Mali, the conflicts resulting from the Arab Spring can quickly spread to other countries. The United States has previously had success in dealing with terrorism issues before the Arab Spring in the Middle East and North Africa, however there might be violent reactions. On one hand, the politically left leaning population in particular, which has some resentments towards the West, will pose a threat to combating future terrorism. On the other hand, Egyptian, Tunisian and Yemeni governments are dependent on countries like the United States and her allies to gain international approval and support. Keeping recent developments in North Korea and Iran in mind, it will be important not to commit to much military Power to this region.

Finally, a new government in Syria could greatly benefit the stability of the Middle East. A regime change in Syria “would threaten a major arms supply route to Hezbollah; deny the Iran-Syria-Hezbollah-Hamas axis its Arab linchpin; weaken Hezbollah‘s deterrence capacities vis-à-vis Israel; and deny the Hezbollah leaders and their families a safe haven when they feel threatened by Israel, as was the case in 2006“ (R. Slim 2011). Thus radical terrorist forces, who have potential for causing greater instability in this region, will be contained.


Sheikh, Mayy El: "Chaos in Egypt Stirs Warning Of a Collapse." The New York Times. The New York Times, Mar. 25, 2013. Web. Apr. 30, 2013.

Kir Patrick, David D: "Chaos in Egypt Stirs Warning of a Collapse." New York Times. New York Times, Jan. 29 2013. Web. Mar. 30, 2013.

Shields, Nathan E: "Unrest in the Middle East: Potential Implications for International Terrorism and Counterterrorism Policy." Global Security Studies 3.2 (2012): 13-23. Print.

Magen, Zvi: "The Impact of the Arab Spring on Global Stability." The Impact of the Arab Spring on Global Stability. Valdai Валдай., Sept. 14, 2011. Web. May 01, 2013.

Map of Arab Spring Nations; Revolutions, Civil Wars, Protests, Govt Changes. Digital image. Blatant World. Wikimedia Commons, n.d. Web. May 1, 2013.

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Mariani, Daniele: "Ennahda Will Keine Rückwärtsgerichtete Gesellschaft" Swissinfo. International Service for the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation, Apr. 15, 2013. Web. May 01, 2013.

Worth, Robert F: "Yemen, Hailed as Model, Struggles for Stability." The New York Times. The New York Times, Feb. 19, 2013. Web. May 01, 2013.

Slim, R: (2011, May 3). Hezbollah‘s most serious challenge. Retrieved May 1, 2013, from Foreign Policy

The conflict between Iran and Israel


"The Iranian nation is standing for its cause that is the full annihilation of Israel." – Major General Hassan Firouzabadi, August 5, 2012. It is this statement, that shocks the international community and induces a growing fear in the Israeli people. Iran has repeatedly threatened to destroy their country and make an end to zionism in the middle east. A nuclear armed Iran thus becomes unimaginable for many and sustainable solutions need to developed. Tensions between Israel and Iran continue to tighten especially in regard to Israel's threats to destroy the suspicious nuclear facilities. It is now up to the Security Council to decided, what measures need to be taken, since existing sanctions and large diplomatic efforts have shown little effect and war seems to be more likely than ever before.

Key terms

Nuclear Weapon

A Nuclear Weapon is an explosive device whose destructive potential derives from the release of energy that accompanies the splitting or combining of atomic nuclei.(Webster's dictionary)

Uranium Enrichment

Uranium Enrichment is a process in which naturally occurring uranium ore is artificially changed to make nuclear fission possible. It increases the amount of atoms in the ore, that can be used in a nuclear reaction. There are different levels of enrichment, depending on the purpose for which the Uranium is needed. The norm lies at about 5%, levels of about 20% are necessary for medical use, and even higher ones for nuclear weapons. This is a key process in regard to the issue, because Iran first needs to be able to enrich to high levers before being able to build actual weapons.

Non-Proliferation Treaty

The Non-Proliferation Treaty or NPT is an agreement amongst nations aiming to limit the spread of nuclear weapons or any technology closely associated with them, attain nuclear disarmament, and promote the peaceful use of nuclear energy. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is responsible for monitoring the nations compliance with the treaty.


Iran is one of the few nations, that never recognized Israel as a sovereign state. The religiously motivated anti-zionism exercised by many muslim organizations, such as the Muslim Brotherhood, the Hamas*, or Hisbollah**(see links), has been supported by Iran. Not only has the President questioned that the Holocaust occurred, but outright denied Israel's right to exist. It is thus important to remember, that this issue also has ideological and religious aspects, which have to be solved. The Iranian government sees it as a religious duty to annihilate Israel.

Overview of Iran's Nuclear Program

Iran's nuclear program began in the mid twentieth century with the help of the United States Atom for Peace Program. This Program was aimed to promote peaceful aspects of nuclear technologies in the fields of medicine, energy production, etc. Under the rule of the Shah Iran continued its research and development of nuclear facilities, however with his fall in the Revolution in 1979 radical policy changes were introduce. The new leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, ceased the secret research into nuclear weapons, because it was considered as immoral by the Islamic religion. Only after his death in 1989 research resumed on a large scale.

In 2002 the United States claimed, that Iran had a nuclear weapons program and repeated allegations of the IAEA , that Iran withheld important information concerning its nuclear facilities, adds to the suspicion. Especially the creation of Uranium Enrichment Plants caused international concern. In response the three big European powers (Germany, England, and France) tried to negotiate with Iran to achieve a sustainable solution, without hurting its sovereign right to nuclear energy. They proposed to strongly support Iran‘s development of nuclear energy, if it agreed to cease Uranium Enrichment once and for all. However, Iran refused to agree, and negotiations continued with little results.

The growing criticism of the IAEA that Iran failed to comply with the NPT safeguard regulations, caught the attention of the Security Council, and a resolution, which demanded the immediate suspension of any Enrichment Program was passed, however with no results. Consequentially in 2006 sanctions were imposed.

Iran argued that under the NPT it has the legal right to enrich Uranium and use it for energy production. Nevertheless the highly suspicious and for many years covertly operated programs at Natanz and Arak strongly suggest an ongoing weapons program. US intelligence reports further catalyzed international concern, as many member states considered the intention of the enrichment program to be evident.

In Conclusion it can be safely said, that Iran has been and currently is involved in Enrichment Programs, possibly aimed to create Weapons of Mass Destruction. Even though Iran has continuously denied allegations and has to some extent cooperated with the IAEA many Member States believe actions must be taken, as it might only be a matter of time until Iran gets nuclear weapons.

Timeline of Events


The jewish state of Israel was founded in Palestine.


The Israeli-Arab War took place in response to the creation of Israel. Several Muslim countries opposed the foundation, and displayed a strongly anti-Zionist attitude. Nevertheless Israel succeeded in maintaing its territories and defying the aggressors.


The Shah‘s repressive regime was overthrown in the Iranian Revolution. The new leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini made Iran into an Islamic Republic, however also introduce an anti-american, anti-zionist attitude in Iranian politics.


International concern about Iran‘s nuclear program starts.


The IAEA declares, that there is no evidence for any Nuclear Weapon Program within Iran.

August 2004

Iran states, that it will counter any attack on its nuclear facilities. This occurs in response to Israel indirect threat of a preemptive strike.

October 2004

European Member States offer incentives to Iran if it stopps its enrichment program.


Sanctions are imposed on Iran by the Security Council


Sanctions imposed on Iran by the Security Council are further tighten.


Iran threatens to block the Strait of Hormuz, a strategically vital oil trade route, through which about 40% of the worlds oil tankers pass.


The EU imposes additional sanctions on Iran including an oil embargo.

An Iranian Nuclear facility was sabotaged with a computer virus, which played the song Thonderstruck by AC/DC aloud.

The Role of The United States of America

"So that is what I think about when Israel is faced with these challenges – that sense of an Israel that is surrounded by many in this region who reject it, and many in the world who refuse to accept it. That is why the security of the Jewish people in Israel is so important – because it can never be taken for granted. But make no mistake: those who adhere to the ideology of rejecting Israel’s right to exist might as well reject the earth beneath them and the sky above, because Israel is not going anywhere. Today, I want to tell you – particularly the young people – that so long as there is a United States of America, Ah-tem lo lah-vahd." (Obama) The United States has always been a close ally of Israel and has demonstrated strong support in the economic and military challenges the nation faced in its early years. The US has continued to help in recent years especially in regard to the growing problem of Iran. In his speech Obama ensures that, "America will do what we must to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran." (Obama 2013) These strong words from the President of the United States of America guarantee their unconditional support, even on a military basis, if Iran manages to create nuclear weapons.

Nuclear Peace

The term nuclear peace refers to a stalemate between nations, created by a similar nuclear weapon capacity. The theory bases itself on the belief, that the fear of retaliation through weapons of mass destruction makes military actions against other nations less likely. In other words if a nation attacks another it can expect a possibly nuclear counter attack and would thus greatly suffer itself. In an age of intercontinental missiles, stealth aircraft, and especially atomic weapons war has become so deadly and uncontrollable that many nations think twice before taking military action. A very famous example of this is the Cold War. Both America and Russia had large amounts of nuclear weapons, however never used them against each other, partly because they feared the devastating effect a nuclear war could have on either country. This can also be applied to the Israel-Iran conflict. If Iran were to receive nuclear weapons, how likely is it that it will actually use them and what would the consequence for Iran be in regards to the strong international support of Israel? Nevertheless, governments often do not act rationally and in numerous occasions misunderstandings have triggered war. Iran could indirectly attack israel by supplying the Hamas or Hisbollah with potentially nuclear weapons. Nuclear peace is an important, however somewhat idealistic approach and more sustainable solutions have to be developed.

Policy Recommendations

In the process of policy making member states need to remember, that time is running short. Analysts believe Iran could acquire nuclear weapons as early as mid 2014. The slow moving negotiations might only be a method to steel time and never proove successful. Nevertheless, one could try to give Iran incentives on an economic and political basis, making disarmament more beneficial for the country.The tightening of sanctions needs to be discussed during debate. Should we risk the inflation of global oil prices for the sake of an Iranian oil embargo? It is believed that opening Iran‘s economy and facilitating trade could lead to a 10% drop of oil prices. Moreover what should the Security Council do in support of Israel? Should one authorize a preemptive strike or even contribute with military force? More determined actions need to be taken, for example giving clear deadlines and clear consequences, could be proven successful. Although the focus must remain on Iran´s nuclear program attention must also be directed towards its military, financial and ideological support of anti-zionist organization such as the Hamas or Hisbollah. Iran has supplied these terrorist organizations with a multitude of weapons to be used against Israel, and measure to limit this illicit trade have to be developed. The major goal of this conference will be to determined a framework, which ensures not only the cessation of any Nuclear Weapons Program, but also works towards a sustainable and peaceful interaction between Iran and Israel.

Relevant United Nations Resolutions

United Nations Security Council Resolutions:


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