Regional Cooperation Series

This Policy Paper is part of The Middle East Institute's Regional Cooperation Series. Throughout 2016, MEI will be releasing several policy papers by renowned scholars and experts exploring possibilities to foster regional cooperation across an array of sectors. The purpose is to highlight the myriad benefits and opportunities associated with regional cooperation, and the high costs of the continued business-as-usual model of competition and intense rivalry.


The Middle East and North Africa is one of the least integrated regions in the world, and in no area of potential collaboration is cooperation more lacking than in the internal security dimension. Among the reasons for this lack of integration is simply that the risks of cooperating with other internal security forces and institutions are quite evident, whereas the benefits of doing so are far less apparent. The most promising approach to security integration is to promote cooperation to reform and improve the delivery of internal security across the region in accordance with the principles of Security Sector Reform (S.S.R.). Such an approach could create a stable and more secure environment for ordinary citizens and their governments in the longer term. It could also pave the way for the further advancement and development of the region across other sectors.

Key Points

  • Create a regional S.S.R. network of security sector officials, senior operational commanders, parliamentarians, civil society organizations, and regional S.S.R. experts to identify, develop, and disseminate security sector best practices
  • Explicitly design and deliver regional capacity building activities for operational forces that enhance both their effectiveness and accountability
  • Foster the sharing of best practices among parliamentarians for oversight and accountability practices in the internal security sector
  • Identify “change agents” within the region’s security sector institutions and forces, and empower them with targeted assistance and capacity building activities
  • Support and expand nascent regional cooperation efforts in the technical and operational spheres to promote wider and deeper regional cooperation

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