Imagine a hypothetical, not too distant, future. The broad Europe, North Africa, Middle East region remains a focal point of instability regarding non-traditional security issues – terror, human security, migration, and climate change induced weather events. Key actors as they presently stand (eg Donald Trump, Angela Merkel, Teresa May, Recep Erdoğan, etc) remain in power. Key issues as they currently stand also remain in place – migration flows from North Africa and the Middle East, the threat of terror, climate induced weather events, the civil conflict in Syria, uncertain US commitment to allies, etc. The following outlines a scenario where some key actors are mentioned. You need to imagine what your actor would do in response.
Over a ten-day period, a number of violent apparent terror attacks have occurred in Europe. Beginning in the UK, a man drove a van into a crowd of tourists at Trafalgar Square in London, killing three and injuring a dozen individuals before driving in front of another speeding vehicle and dying in the crash. Three days later, two suicide bombers in Paris detonated explosives in the Paris Metro in two separate locations, killing 36 and injuring 100+ individuals. A week later in Berlin, a gunman entered a rock concert and opened fire, killing 11 and injuring 32 before being shot by police.
Each of the attackers have been identified as nationals or documented residents of their respective countries. In the UK, the attacker was a UK born Muslim young man with Pakistani parents. In Paris, the attackers were Syrian migrants who had entered the country as asylum seekers during the migration crisis of 2015. And in Berlin, the attacker was a man of German heritage who appears to have been radicalised, though he has left no manifesto and his motives are unclear. ISIS has claimed responsibility for each of the attacks, though a direct connection to each attack remains open to question.
At the same time, the media reports that an apparent chemical weapon has been used on Syrian civilians. Whilst exact numbers of those affected are unclear, it appears that the numbers of victims could be in the hundreds, and some are reporting more than 1000 dead. The US soon after releases an intelligence report that suggest that the Bashar al-Assad led government forces are responsible for the attack, as they claim he has been in past instances of chemical weapons deployment in the conflict. The Syrian government claims that the dead were ISIS militants and that no chemical weapons have been used. ISIS forces remain in Syria, but have been decimated from the highs of their territorial conquest a few short years ago.
In the emerging democracy of Libya, ISIS has been targeting government, police, and European officials in the country managing migration flows have also been attacked. In the most recent violence, police guarding EU officials were shot and three EU officials were executed by beheading. Footage of this attack has been released online. This is a worry for Italy, where cooperation between the EU and Libya has seen a marked reduction in maritime refugee flows into the country recently.
In Turkey, tensions in the community regarding the 3.5 million Syrian refugees have been exacerbated by a drought that has seen low crop yields and rising food prices. Whilst the refugees have obviously not caused these rising prices, their presence is resented by many Turkish citizens and is a pressing issue for the Turkish government as the conflict in Syria drags on and the EU resists further intake of asylum seekers.
The UN Security Council remains divided over action in Syria and ISIS. It is not clear that this can be resolved or if Russia and China as permanent members will allow intervention based upon the principals outlined by R2P. António Guterres has been prominent in condemning the apparent attacks on civilians and has been encouraging governments to do more to address the refugee crisis.
What happens next?
I have mentioned each actor, but I have also deliberately left the scenario very open. I want each group to research their actor’s interests in the scenario and pursue the most pressing issues. This may be quite different for each actor.
How will the situation be resolved, if at all? You need to research your actor’s position and interests and negotiate a stance on that basis. There will be opportunities to negotiate, threaten, and cajole other actors in classes or online, so be prepared to talk to others!