Democracy in Crisis: Geopolitical Shifts and US Challenges in MENA

The events of the Arab Spring more than a decade ago emphasized the popular and widespread aspirations for democratic governance across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). However, the processes of democratic transformation that followed were met with greater repression, military coups, civil wars, and the entrenchment of authoritarianism. In recent years, shifts in the regional geopolitical order and emerging alliances have created a new axis of authoritarian powers and repressive partnerships that have become not only accepted but enabled by western democracies. Developments such as the rehabilitation of the Assad regime, the recent Saudi-Iran rapprochement, the Abraham Accords, Turkey’s reentry into the regional order, and the United States’ policy realignments and its great power competition with Russia and China may further contribute to the erosion of democratic principles and of prospects for political reforms across the region.

Arab Center Washington DC is dedicating its eighth annual conference to exploring the current crisis facing democratization and the implementation of reforms across the Middle East and North Africa. This one-day conference explores the current state of democracy and democratic regression in the MENA region and focuses on the evolution of US policy toward the region and the status of human rights there. Experts will analyze the implications of both recent geopolitical shifts and the emerging authoritarian order, the trend of rehabilitating autocratic and oppressive regimes, the impact of current economic crises, growing human insecurity, the need for reforming Middle East politics and governance, and the upcoming US Presidential elections and their impact on US foreign policy and democracy promotion in the region.

The National Press Club, 529 14th St NW, Main Ballroom, Washington, DC 20045
Or attend virtually via Zoom & Livestream

Tuesday September 26, 2023

9:30 AM - 4:30 PM ET

For the conference agenda, list of speakers, and to register to attend, please visit:


Stay Connected

MESA offers several ways to stay connected: Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, as well as listservs and trusty email notifications. To find out more, please follow the link below.

Connect Now