Asset Publisher

Stephen Downes / flickr / CC BY-NC 2.0 /

Upheavals and Transformation in the Middle East and in North Africa

Upheavals and Transformation in the Middle East and in North Africa

How Political and Social Transformations Change an Entire Region Over the Long-Term

Asset Publisher

The Arab Awakening or Arab Spring has changed the geopolitical landscape.

Ban Ki-moon, former Secretary-General of the United Nations

Asset Publisher

At a glance

  • Since the start of the Arab Spring in 2011, almost all states in the Middle East and North Africa have experienced radical political and social processes of change.
  • There was no sustainable democratisation of the region. Rather, geopolitical and identity-based conflicts broke out, which led to millions of refugees, radicalisation and political instability.
  • Yet, the change is not over everywhere. Social and economic transformations are taking place in many places. The royal dynasties, which are preparing their countries for a time after the energy transition, are now considered a driving force behind this.
  • The Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung observes, analyses and supports ongoing transformation processes in the region through the work of its local country office and from its headquarters in Berlin.



1. Temporary failure of the democracy movement

2. From the “will of the people” to modernisation from the top

3. Ongoing processes of transition

4. Our offers and projects on the topic

5. Publications, events and media contributions on the topic


Almost all countries in the Middle East and North Africa have experienced far-reaching social and political transformations over the past few years. Starting with the so-called Arab Spring that began with a wave of protests in the Tunisian hinterland in December 2011, and swiftly reached cities such as Tunis, Cairo or Damascus. The calls of the predominantly young protesters for “bread, freedom, dignity” on the Avenue Bourguiba in Tunis and the Tahrir Square in Cairo, resonated with large swatches of the Arabic world and led to widespread upheaval within the region. Within one-year, authoritarian rulers in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and in Yemen, who had ruled their countries for decades, were toppled.


Temporary failure of the democracy movement: freedom is scarcely worth anything without economic success

Swift democratisation and a spring-like blossoming of the region did not follow, however. Instead, it became clear that: without economic development, freedom has hardly any value at all. Hence, since a coup d’état in 2021, the region’s former democratic trailblazer, Tunisia, is a prime example of the temporary failure of democracy movements in the region.

Elsewhere, the outcome of the 2011 protests is bleaker still. There were many places where geopolitical and identity-based conflict lines erupted, protests were violently suppressed and frustration led to radicalisation and instability. Political violence and escalating conflicts in Syria, Yemen, and Libya forced millions of people to flee to neighbouring countries and to Europe.


From the “will of the people” to modernisation from the top: royal dynasties as drivers of social transformation

Whereas the dictatorial sham democracies were still the epicentre of social protests in 2011, ten years later, the royal dynasties are major drivers of social transformation in the region. The “Saudi Vision 2030” initiated by Saudi Crown Prince Mohamed Bin Salman, which has gradually opened a previously isolated country to investors, tourists and even its own society, is symbolic of many initiatives of Gulf monarchies that are preparing for a time following the energy transition.

Morocco’s development strategy looks similarly ambitious, and aims to comprehensively transform the North African country both socially and economically. Jordan, as the only Levantine monarchy, is focusing on cautious political reforms, which, however, are mainly being interpreted as “protest prevention”.


Ongoing processes of transition: the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung is intensively monitoring and accompanying the process

The dispute between citizens in the Middle East and North Africa and their political elites about demands concerning a modern state and the future of their societies continues. The Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS) accompanies this ongoing process of transformation via the work of its country offices in the region and from the headquarters in Berlin. In 2021, the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung also used the ten-year anniversary of the “Arab Spring” as an occasion for the extensive appraisal of the manifold and protracted transition processes in the Middle East and North Africa.

The fundamental issues addressed here have lost none of their validity. Why did the “Arab Spring” fail in so many countries? Nevertheless, where can we see signs of democratic change? What future do young people wish for in the region today? How can participation and representation be organised in the societies of the region? Can Germany and Europe play a role here, too?

Our offers and projects on the topic

Selected website projects

The Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung regularly creates informative overview pages on selected problems and conflicts in the MENA region, where our experts will keep you up to date with current articles and assessments.

Protests in Iran


The violent death of the 22-year-old Iranian Kurdish woman, Jina Mahsa Amin, caused by the brutality of the notorious morality police, has triggered a wave of indignation since mid-September 2022 that suddenly burst into widespread protests on the streets.

What began as a show of solidarity and a rejection of rigorous violence by the morality police quickly developed into a serious challenge for the Iranian regime owing to its spread to large parts of the county, and the emergence of calls for more rights and freedoms. The Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung is observing the situation in Iran from the headquarters in Berlin and its country offices within the region, and provides information about current developments in the county on a dedicated page


Learn more about the protests in Iran.

The Conflict in Yemen


Despite attracting little public attention, a bloody civil and proxy war is raging in Yemen in the wake of a transition process initiated by the Arab Spring. The violent power struggle has led to a major humanitarian crisis in recent years, for which there is currently little hope of serious improvement. The problem and conflict situations are and continue to be complex. Nevertheless, the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung endeavours to comprehensively analyse the conflict in Yemen, and to bring together experts and decision-makers from Germany and the region so as to seek political solutions.


Learn more about the conflict in Yemen



The Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung publishes podcast episodesdevoted to developments in the Middle East and North Africa at irregular intervals.

Berlin Mideast Podcast


With our regional podcast series “Berlin Mideast Podcast”, we examine and analyse at irregular intervals the current situation and important developments in the Near and Middle East. Here, we place a special focus on issues such as the position of women in the Islamic world, or the role of Arab armies in the region’s political systems. Of course, we also consider the situational advancements and set-backs more than one decade since the onset of the “Arab Spring”.


Learn more about the Berlin Mideast Podcast


Virtual art exhibition

With a virtual art exhibition, the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung together with its partner, the “I have Learned Academy”, has created a platform for artists from the Middle East and North Africa to present works focusing on problems and challenges in their region.

Arts and Politics


“Arts and Politics” is a virtual art exhibition that approaches current societal trends in the Middle East and North Africa via installations, graffiti and videos. Artists from Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Syria, and Tunisia use their work to portray the challenges of their home countries.


Learn more about “Arts and Politics”

Asset Publisher

Asset Publisher


Dr. Canan Atilgan

Dr. Canan Atilgan

Head of the Department Middle East and North Africa +49 30 26996-3201
Country Reports
Wana News Agency
October 17, 2022
read now
International Reports
Ahmed Jadallah, Reuters
February 8, 2022
read now
International Reports
Aziz Taher, Reuters
July 5, 2021
read now

Asset Publisher

Publications, events and media contributions on the topic

Our contributions are as wide-ranging and multifaceted as the topic itself!

Whether it's an expert interview, specialist publication or hot debate - click through and you're guaranteed to find the right format for you!

Asset Publisher

Publications to the topic

Libanon und EU Flagge IMAGO / Pond5 Images

European assistance for crisis-ridden Lebanon

Lebanese and international criticism of the EU's new aid package is exaggerated


Expert discussion: KAS-PSR discuss findings of Public Opinion Poll No. 91

Humanitarian conditions in Gaza worsen, support for Hamas declines

Fregatte Hessen IMAGO / Manfred Segerer

Escalation in the Red Sea

The military dimension, the deployment of the Bundeswehr and the calculus of regional players

Sheikh Mishal Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah IMAGO / Xinhua

Kuwait Before a Generational Change

A new era might dawn after the death of Emir Nawaf

Russian military police IMAGO / ITAR-TASS

Russia in the Middle East

Strategies and Interests

Menschen nehmen an einer Solidaritätsdemo für Israel auf dem Pariser Platz am Brandenburger Tor teil. picture alliance/dpa | Fabian Sommer

Attack on Israel

Hamas attack shakes the Jewish state and raises questions about the country's security and future.

Staats- und Regierungschefs, die am 32. Gipfel der Arabischen Liga teilnehmen, posieren für ein Gruppenfoto in Dschidda, Saudi-Arabien, 19. Mai 2023 IMAGO / Xinhua

Regional normalisation – Syrian perspectives

Turkish and Arab attempts to establish a new foundation for their relationship with Syria are viewed with concern especially in areas outside of the regime’s control.


La Tunisie, carrefour énergétique ?


Iraq REUTERS / Ahmed Saad

100 Days of the New Government in Iraq

A Balancing Act

Protest gegen den Tod von Mahsa Amini, einer Frau, die nach ihrer Verhaftung durch die Wana News Agency

Proteste im Iran

Für die Sehnsucht nach einem normalen Leben

Middle East Reactions to the First Year of the Biden Administration

Middle East Reactions to the First Year of the Biden Administration

A publication by the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung Israel and the Moshe Dayan Center.

Parlamentswahlen im Irak - Wahlurne Shutterstock / Sadik Gulec

Crisis of legitimacy or glimmer of hope?

Iraq ahead of the parliamentary elections on October 10th, 2021

 Protesters at a rally. Aziz Taher, Reuters

Ten Years After the “Arab Spring” – What Does the Region Think Today?

A Survey of Public Opinion in the Middle East and North Africa

Berliner Libyen-Konferenz Florian Gaertner /

Berliner Libyen-Konferenz 2.0

Absichtserklärungen ohne Auswirkungen?

Panorama der Hauptstadt Algeriens

Escaping the Blackbox – oder auch nicht?

Algerien nach den ersten Parlamentswahlen nach Bouteflika

spotlight on Sudan 2nd website

Spotlight on Sudan: Sudan's Foreign Policy Priorities

June 2021

Libya's Constitutional Quagmire

The Modern Arab State Video Out Now!

The Modern Arab State


The Modern Arab State Book Cover

The Modern Arab State

Digital Book Launch

Bildcollage mit Präsident Joe Biden vor der der US-amerikanischen und der jemenitischen Flagge sowie einer Stadtansicht von Sanaa Fotocollage mit Material von The White House/Adam Schultz und Rod Waddington / flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0 /

"This war has to end"

100 Tage Biden und Perspektiven für eine Konfliktlösung im Jemen

Asset Publisher

Events on the topic




Ein Jahr nach dem 7. Oktober 2023

Was der Angriff der Hamas für Israel, die USA und Europa bedeutet




Angriff auf Israel

Wie geht es weiter im Nahen Osten?

Event Reports on the topic

Event Reports on the topic

FRedwrik Schmit und Abt Dr. Nikodemus Schnabel OSB Thomas Ehlen

"Wir sollten auch für die beten, die uns hassen."

Christen im Heiligen Land / Eine Bilanz des Fuldaer Gesprächs 28. Mai 2024

8 - sei-a-mensch-5459

Sei a Mensch!

Fotografien aus Israel nach dem 7. Oktober 2023

Konrad Neuhaus und Dr. Peter Lintl

Israels Perspektiven 75 Jahre nach Staatsgründung

Eine Bilanz des 41. #HessenKAS Facebook-Live vom 10.05.2023

The Chairman of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation and former President of the German Bundestag, Professor Dr. Norbert Lammert, opened the panel discussion on the challenges and opportunities for cooperation in the Eastern Mediterranean. MSC/Jens Hartmann

"Zeitenwende" in the Eastern Mediterranean?

Discussion Event of the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung at the Munich Security Conference


Ich werde nicht hassen: Meine Töchter starben, meine Hoffnung lebt weiter

Die Geschichte von Prof. Izzeldin Abuelaish

Simon Engelkes Thomas Ehlen /

Sechs Wochen vor der Fußball-Weltmeisterschaft

Politische und wirtschaftliche Potenziale in Katar und den Nachbarstaaten am Persischen Golf / Eine Bilanz des Wiesbadener Tischgesprächs 10. Oktober 2022

The Agony of Choice – Political Participation in the Middle East and North Africa in the 2020’s KAS

The Agony of Choice

Political Participation in the Middle East and North Africa in the 2020's

Kristin Helberg Johanna Frank

Hoffnung für Syrien

Experten diskutierten über Lösungen und Perspektiven des Weltkonfliktes

70 Jahre Israel. Das gelobte Land

Impressionen eines Seminars der KAS-Südbaden

"Steht der Nahe Osten vor dem Abgrund? - Aktuelle Lage und Lösungsansätze"

„Die Entwicklung des Landes ist bemerkenswert“

Stellvertretender Generalsekretär Dr. Gerhard Wahlers trifft den tunesischen Staatspräsidenten Essebsi

Jemen Panel 1

Politische Lösungen im Jemen gesucht

Fachgespräch zur sozio-ökonomischen und humanitären Lage im Jemen

Den Dialog wieder in den Blick nehmen

Potsdamer Forum "Politik & Sicherheit" zu den Entwicklungen in der Türkei

"Brüderliche Zukunft?!" Herausforderungen und Perspektiven der deutsch-israelischen Beziehungen

Eine Bilanz des Frankfurter Gesprächs 6. März 2017

Würde unter Druck

Zwischen Pilgern und Politik: Mit Katholischer Kirche und KAS durch Israel

Wie stabil ist Jordanien?

Wie viele Dinge braucht der Mensch?

Der Besitz von Tuareg und Deutschen im Vergleich

"Nur durch Dialog soll das Volk zum Frieden gelangen"

Friedensnobelpreisträgerin Ouided Bouchamaoui sprach über Tunesiens Erneuerung

Touristische Entwicklungen im Iran: Ein Land zwischen Repression, Regionalmachtbestrebungen und Reise...

7. Hafis-Dialog Weimar

Eine tägliche Qual

Eine “Selbsthasserin” über die Zustände an israelischen Checkpoints

Asset Publisher

Media library

Erststimme #86: Richard C. Schneider

Israel - Wie geht es dem Land?

Wir tauchen mit Richard C. Schneider, tief in die Komplexität und die leidenschaftlichen Debatten um Israel ein, das seit 75 Jahren im Zentrum globaler Aufmerksamkeit steht.

read now
Podcast Erstimme #69

Das moderne Israel

In dieser Folge unseres Podcasts sprechen wir mit Dr. Gisela Dachs, Publizistin, Journalistin und Professorin, über das Moderne Israel und aktuelle Entwicklungen im Land.

read now
Video-Gespräche mit Expertinnen & Experten

10 Jahre neue marokkanische Verfassung

2011 gab sich das Königreich Marokko eine neue Verfassung, die das Niveau & die Qualität politischer Partizipation für Bürgerinnen & Bürger erhöhen sollte. Wo steht Marokko heute?

read now
Video to the KAS PolDiMed Book

The Modern Arab State

This video summarizes the key findings of the book "The Modern Arab State," which is available digitally on the KAS PolDiMed website or in print at our offices.

read now
Gespräch mit unserem Büroleiter in Tunis, Dr. Holger Dix

Tunesien zehn Jahre nach der Revolution

Wie ist die Situation im Land heute? Wie haben sich Zivilgesellschaft und Tunesien weiterentwickelt und wie bewertet die internationale Gemeinschaft den Demokratisierungsprozess?

10 years after the "Arab Spring"

Amjad Badr on political developments in Libya

10 Years since the Arab Spring

„Digital Democracy“ in Tunisia

How the organisation „Chnowa Barnemjek“ uses the digitalization to strengthen democracy.

10 years since the Arab Spring

Assessment and Expectations of the Arab Spring Generation

We asked participants of the MENA Leadership Academy of KAS: What does the Arab Spring mean to them, where does their country stand today and where will it stand in ten years time.

10 Years since the Arab Spring

Where does Tunisia stand today? A conversation with Yadh Ben Achour

We talked about this with Yadh Ben Achour, university professor, president of the Higher Political Reform Commission and member of the UN Human Rights Committee.

10 Years since the Arab Spring

Where does Tunisia stand today? A conversation with Maya Ksouri

We talked about this with the Tunisian lawyer Maya Ksouri. The interview is available in French with German subtitles.

Asset Publisher