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Wanted: An Arab Jean Monnet

The Middle East is beyond doubt one of the most dangerous crisis regions worldwide. The next war, terrorist attack, or failed peace initiative may lurk just around the corner. Compared to the politics of this region, a rollercoaster ride is downright calming.

And yet the Middle East is also a region that, throughout its innumerable conflicts, has hardly changed, languishing in a strange kind of standstill. There must be an intrinsic correlation between the lack of developmental dynamism of most Middle Eastern societies and the fact that the region is so crisis-prone.

The conflict between Israel and the Palestinians stands out as an example of the static nature of this key geopolitical region, because it seems to be completely unaffected by any international upheaval. The Ottomans, the British, decolonization, the Cold War, numerous American Presidents, and even more international mediators have come and gone, but the parameters of this conflict and the inability to find a solution never seem to change.

However, this impression – correct where the past is concerned – might prove deceptive in the future, because two global megatrends will subject the region to more profound change than all the many previous political crises and wars were able to bring about.