Germany’s official aid to Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) countries has more than doubled since 2011, ostensibly to support their own responses to development and humanitarian challenges following the Arab uprisings. The dramatic increases in aid have not been accompanied by a public strategy setting out Germany’s objectives in the region, and the role of aid in conjunction with other policy tools in achieving them. What strategic objectives does the German government have for its MENA aid, and have these objectives changed in response to the Arab uprisings? Does the practice of Germany’s aid spending actually address development and humanitarian challenges in the MENA region, as these are defined by MENA countries themselves? The aid effectiveness literature suggest that two propositions can be debated: first, that Germany’s aid and foreign policy system has not been able to articulate a clear strategy due to political differences and bureaucratic inertia; and second that priorities tend to favour German and European security interests rather than the region’s own development and humanitarian priorities.
Mark Furness is a senior researcher in the Bi-and Multilateral Development Cooperation department at the German Development Institute/Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE). He has a MA (Hons) in International Relations from the Australian National University and a PhD in Political Science from the Freie Universität Berlin, which focussed on security cooperation in the framework of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership. His current research and policy advisory work focuses on German and EU development policy, development cooperation with the Middle East and North Africa, aid effectiveness, fragile and conflict-affected countries, and crisis response and resilience. He has recently published research articles on policy coherence and the EU's handling of the security-development nexus, the EU’s comprehensive approach to crisis response in Africa, development cooperation with Libya and EU decision-making in the context of the 2015 European Neighbourhood Policy review.