What will become of Middle East and North African youth who need jobs, are educated and are using social media to connect online?
One of the top three geopolitical challenges that the Middle East faces in the period 2010-2020 is the demographic bulge born between 1975-1995 who are competing for few jobs in economies that are mostly stagnant or depending on a sole resource. Oil or U.S. political-military support.
The issue is significant because traditional states such as Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Iran, Egypt, Morocco rely on theocracy or political idiology to control the population. The educated and digitally connected young people who are part of a population bulge born between the years 1975 and 1995 seek employment and a meaningful role in their national future. The aftermath of the Iranian election and political stalemating clearly shows the role that digital tools play in facilitating demonstrations, communications and even, possibly, a tear-down-the-walls action agenda.
At the same time, the U.S. needs to leverage existing relationships in the region, so that other global aspirants don’t gain a foothold.