The regional order that prevailed in the Middle East since the end of the Cold War has come under increased strain as a result of the 2003 US-led invasion and occupation of Iraq and the consequent unraveling of regional balances, leading to the collapse of regimes, explosions of popular demonstrations, the expansion of non-state and quasi-state actors and resurgent foreign and regional meddling. These challenges have invested Europe in an unprecedented way in a moment in which the capacity of the continent and of its national and supra-national institutions is constrained by inward-looking tendencies and mounting divisions and disagreements among member states. Against this backdrop of rising trends of conflictual multipolarity, discussions on the need to revamp multilateral security dialogue among key regional and international actors involved in the Middle East have taken on a new urgency. In particular, debates on a potential ‘Regional Dialogue Forum’ and the role of Iran and other regional players on the regional chessboard have multiplied.
This project, launched in April 2018 and due to finish in June 2019, is implemented by IAI and by the Foundation for European Progressive Studies (FEPS) in Brussels. It entails the drafting of four thematic reports and one final strategy paper. Each paper will be authored by a prominent European, Iranian or Middle Eastern expert. The project will also have a strong outreach component in the form of study visits.