The “Jasmine revolution” in Tunisia in late 2010 / early 2011 sparked a wave of unrest throughout the Arab world, with calls for democratic change and better conditions of life resounding through many countries in the Middle East and North Africa. The scale, intensity and timing of the mass protests not only took the international community by surprise: people in the countries themselves were in many cases overwhelmed by the dynamic of the movements that they supported. The protests have not passed off peacefully everywhere, however. In many cases, the state’s security forces have responded to the demonstrations with violence. Some countries have already plunged into civil war; others are on the brink. All these events pose major challenges to development and peace organisations.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is also of major symbolic significance in this context. This deeply rooted conflict of identity and interests, which is characterised by major power asymmetries, has been a focus of FriEnt’s activities since 2003. As a peaceful solution has not yet been found, international actors are increasingly been accused, in the Palestinian territories, of consolidating the status quo while making no substantive contributions to peace. At the same time, in the eyes of many people in the Arab world, the progress in the Middle East conflict continues to be the benchmark for the international community’s credible advocacy of democracy, human rights and the rule of law – also in the countries of the “Arab spring”.
FriEnt focuses on the current processes and relevant issues and facilitates expert dialogue between its member organisations and their partners through regular round tables and ad hoc working meetings. FriEnt also offers its members analyses and individual consultations on specific issues.