SIPRI Report: Towards a Renewed Local Social and Political Covenant in Libya, Syria and Yemen

Towards a Renewed Local Social and Political Covenant in Libya, Syria and Yemen

Author: Ahmed Morsy (SIPRI)

December, 2022



This SIPRI Insights Paper examines the domestic and external factors at play in Libya, Syria and Yemen and their impact on negotiating post-war peaceful settlements and shaping prospective social contracts.The paper’s argument is twofold. Firstly, policymaking must move beyond a static approach to understanding these conflicts. Despite apparent stalemates, the three countries should be approached as ever-evolving simmering conflicts. Secondly, policymakers have to move below the national level in order to achieve various forms of localized social peace. Given the nature of these conflicts and the varied sub-national segmentation, the analysis concludes that community-level social and political covenants may offer a first building block towards nationwide social contracts and sustainable conflict resolution. The role of external actors, particularly the European Union (EU), is critical in paving the way for these locallevel dialogues and negotiations in Libya, Syria and Yemen. In short, external powers, including the EU, should adopt policies that push for long-term resolution to achieve postconflict stabilization rather than opportunistically taking sides.

CMES Research Seminar: Exile, Identity, and Mobilization- New Dynamics in Post-2011 Arab Diasporas

Based on new empirical research conducted with Libyan, Iraqi, and Yemeni diasporas and drawing on social movement analysis, the seminar will explore new forms and directional flows of political remittances that are taking place, and the various factors that mediate the act of remitting politically.


Dr. Sarah Ann Rennick, Deputy Director of the independent think tank Arab Reform Initiative (ARI) based in Paris.

When: 14 September, 13.15-14.30 (CEST)
Where: Virtual
Registration: Follow this link to register for the event

CMES Research Seminar – The Missing Sense of Peace [in Syria and Yemen]. Diplomatic Approachment and Virtualization during the Covid-19 Lockdown.

Isabel Bramsen and Anine Hagemann present their article “The missing sense of peace [in Syria and Yemen]: Diplomatic approachment and virtualization during the COVID-19”


With the unprecedented COVID-lockdown in 2020, many peace diplomatic efforts turned virtual. This represented a temporary loss of many of the usual practices of peace diplomacy and provided an opportunity to examine virtual diplomacy as all that was lost; the importance of physical face-to-face meetings. Based on interviews with parties and mediators involved in the peace processes of Syria and Yemen we analyze the affordances of virtual and physical meetings respectively.

Particularly, virtual meetings condition peace diplomacy in terms of broadening accessibility, putting confidentiality at risk, allowing for higher frequency of meetings, often disrupting interaction, but also in some instances equalizing it. Physical, meetings on the other hand allow for bodily presence, for spending extended periods of time together, for reconciliatory interaction and creating informal space.

Most importantly, the transition to virtual meetings demonstrated the missing sense of peace, a notion we develop to capture the visceral dimension of physical meetings, conceptualized to include understanding, togetherness and trust. We argue that neither virtual nor physical diplomacy should be discarded and discuss strategies of how to work around the missing sense of peace in virtual diplomacy and the potential of hybrid solutions exploiting the potential of both formats.


Isabel Bramsen (PhD) is Associate Senior Lecturer at Lund University, Department of Political Science and postdoctoral researcher at the Centre for Resolution of International Conflicts (CRIC), University of Copenhagen. She has published several articles on nonviolent resistance, violence, conflict resolution, emotions and the micro-sociology of peace and conflict. She is co-author of International Konfliktløsning (Samfundslitteratur 2016) and Addressing International Conflict: Dynamics of Escalation, Continuation and Transformation (Routledge 2019).

Anine Hagemann is a PhD candidate at the University of Copenhagen, on leave from the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Her research focuses on peacebuilding, Protection of Civilians, women’s involvement in peace negotiations and Nordic peace collaboration. She is interested in practice-relevant research and is a Danish diplomat with extensive field experience. She is co-author of New Nordic Peace (Nordisk Ministerråd 2019).

Please visit CMES event page for more information about speakers, abstract and registration for seminar. We hope to return to hybrid and physical seminars once the infection rate of COVID-19 has decreased.

Article on Iran’s strategic interests in Yemen

What is in Yemen for Iran? A Realist Assessment of Tehran’s
Strategic Calculus in the Arabian Peninsula

Author: Maysam Behravesh
December, 2020

A chapter in “Navigating the Regional Chessboard” (Ed. Vogt, Achim & Schmid, Sarah), December 2020

Friedrich Ebert Stiftung


This article addresses Iran’s involvement in Yemen from a realist perspective and in the wider framework of the geopolitical rivalry between the Islamic Republic on the one hand and Saudi Arabia and its allies, particularly the United States, on the other. Focusing on the “demand” side of the civil war, or motives and incentives for its perpetuation, it tries to delineate how Iranian leaders perceive Yemen and how Tehran uses this pivotal node of “strategic depth” in the Arabian Peninsula for deterrence, security provision as well as power projection purposes. The article concludes Iran is in Yemen for the long haul and therefore urges a holistic policy approach to conflict resolution that recognizes long-term interests and concerns of all major conflicting parties on the ground and seeks to make Iran’s intervention and involvement in Yemen less necessary rather than more costly.

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