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Will the EU Collapse and lead to a Civil War?

The last decade has been a difficult one for the European Union. In the wake of the 2009 debt crisis, much debate has arisen around its nature, its powers, its governance and its policies.

The situation got only worse when the migrant inflow boomed in 2015, triggering a EU-level crisis.

In this strained socio-economic context, diverging views on the EU as a polity have emerged at the political level both inside the single member states and inside the organization’s institutions.

Recently, two events have revived once more the debate. The first is the re-election of Viktor Orbán, a prominent conservative and Eurosceptic politician, as Prime Minister of Hungary.

The second is the statement by France’s President Emmanuel Macron that the EU is facing a “civil war” on its fundamental values resulting from different opinions between its Western and Central-Eastern members.

This affirmation seems exaggerated, at least at a first glance. But in such a turbulent political context, it raises a legitimate question: is the EU on the edge of a civil war?

The Conditions of a Civil War

To answer this question, the first thing to do is determining in which conditions a civil war does start. Essentially, this happens when two or more socio-political groups belonging to the same political entity disagree on the existing and/or future institutional order; and, being unable or unwilling to peacefully find a compromise through the existing institutional mechanisms, opt for armed conflict to impose their view and determine who will (re)shape the existing order by the use of coercion. Usually, a civil war opposes one group fighting to preserve the standing institutional framework (along with the prerogatives it enjoys thanks to it) and another group who wants to dismantle it (and set up a new order more favourable to its interests).

That said, history is full of examples of civil wars; from those which paved the way to the end of the Roman Republic centuries ago to the ongoing conflicts in Syria and Yemen. But one is particularly significant due to its similarities with the situation the EU is facing today: the American Civil War.

The American Civil War

The US Civil War, also known as War of Secession, was an armed conflict that split the United States between 1861 and 1865.

The contenders where two: one was the Union (the North), formed by states that remained loyal to the government of the United States;

and the other was the Confederacy (the South), made up of states which seceded from the US and form a separate political entity known as the Confederate States of America (CSA).

Usually, this war is portrayed as a fight over the issue of slavery, with the Union supporting its abolishment and the Confederacy favourable to its preservation.

But even though slavery was indeed a central issue in sparking the conflict, the situation was far more complex than a clear-cut black-vs-white clash between conservative and progressist ideals. As a matter of fact, there were also major political, juridical-institutional and …

The Saudi Palace Plot – Will Mohammed Bin Salman Succeed?

The Saudi Palace Plot

In January 2015, Salman Bin Abdul-Aziz, took the throne following the death of his half-brother, Abdullah (A son of the founder Ibn Saud)

Behind-the-scenes a power struggle was taking place for King Salman to crown his son, Mohammed Bin Salman, a prince and name him his chosen successor.

This power struggle became public on November 4th 2017 when Salman and his son had more than a dozen princes and former high-level officials arrested, including a world-famous billionaire.
The reason for their detention is simple: Salman is trying to remove obstacles that could prevent Mohammed bin Salman from succeeding him.

King Salman is the first monarch in the history of the modern kingdom to buck this particular tradition. Usually, a successor is chosen by consensus among the sons of the founder of the kingdom.

But now that the second generation is nearly all dead, and now that there are too many third-generation princes to convene, it has become more difficult to choose who will become the next king.
He has bucked other traditions too. Salman has strengthened his son’s claim by bestowing on him sweeping powers over security and economic affairs.

Mohammed bin Salman is the defense minister, the head of a strategic economic council, controller of Saudi Aramco and, after Nov. 4, the chief of an anti-corruption agency.

And Salman did all this by removing from power his half brother and his nephew, both of whom were crown princes. He has also sidelined powerful members of the clerical and tribal establishments.

Some rumors suggest that the purges were made in response to a plot against Mohammed bin Salman. It’s unclear if that is actually the case.

But whether the rumors are true or whether the arrests were pre-emptive, the outcome is the same: There are fewer threats to a Mohammed bin Salman reign.

Arresting these individuals accomplishes two things. First, it guarantees their capitulation to Mohammed bin Salman.
Second, it gives the Salman faction more mileage out of the anti-corruption drive.

Between that and their attempts to secularise Muslims in Saudi, the king and his son are moving away from the traditional sources of support (clerics and tribal establishments) and toward new ones: popular appeal among the country’s youth, which makes up about two-thirds of the population.

They are using populism to inoculate themselves from the potential consequences of their power grab. In the process, though, they are inadvertently laying the foundations for the next crisis. Relying on popular support means they will be forced to enact more reforms than they actually want to – or are even capable of. Despots who try to be populists usually end up being neither and, in their failure, lose power.

It is too early to tell what will be the outcome of the power struggle. Whoever comes out on top will be unable to ignore the fact: that Saudi Arabia is a country in decline, largely because of low oil prices but also because of the general disarray in …

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