Dr. Isabelle Werenfels

Dr. Isabelle Werenfels

Research Division: Africa and Middle East
Senior Fellow


Since 2020 Chair of the International Advisory Board, Merian Centre for Advanced Studies in the Maghreb (MECAM)

Since 2019 Member of the "Comité Scientific" of the Fondation pour la Recherche Stratégique (FRS), Paris

Since 2019 Member of the Foundation Board of the Fondation Hirondelle, Lausanne

2014 - 2018 Head of Research Division Middle East and Africa

2016 - 2019 member of the Advisory Board of the PhD programme "Trajectories of change. Ph.D. Scholarships in Humanities and Social Sciences" of the Zeit-Stiftung

2007-2018 member of the Foundation Board of the „Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies“, Geneva (2010 - 2014 as Vice-chairwoman)

2006-2012 Adjunct Lectureships University of Hamburg and Freie Universität Berlin

1999 Head of the Swiss Delegation and of the Research, Analysis and Information Division of the Temporary International Presence in the City of Hebron (TIPH)

1993-1998 reporter/editor with a special focus on the Middle East at the Swiss Broadcasting Company's Radio (DRS)

Areas of Expertise:

Maghreb / North Africa, Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, Elites and elite change, Arab Spring, Political systems, Political Islam / Islamism

Political transformation, elite change and social mobilization in the Maghreb states, intra-regional relations in the Maghreb, German and European policies towards the Maghreb states. Current focus: authoritarian resilience in the Maghreb, migration policies in the Maghreb and Maghreb-EU migration cooperation, "turn to Africa" of the Maghreb states.

SWP Publications (selection):

Intissar Fakir, Isabelle Werenfels

The Pandemic and Governance in the Maghreb: A Moment of Truth

The Covid-19 Pandemic Tests the Sustainability of Different Governance Approaches

SWP Comment 2021/C 15, February 2021, 8 Pages


Isabelle Werenfels

Maghrebi Rivalries Over Sub‑Saharan Africa

Algeria and Tunisia Seeking to Keep Up with Morocco

SWP Comment 2020/C 54, November 2020, 8 Pages


Isabelle Werenfels

Put the Ball in Tunisia’s Court

New Government and Urgency of Reform Require Modified EU Approach

SWP Comment 2020/C 14, March 2020, 4 Pages


Max Gallien, Isabelle Werenfels

Is Tunisia Really Democratising?

Progress, Resistance, and an Uncertain Outlook

SWP Comment 2019/C 13, March 2019, 8 Pages


Anne Koch, Annette Weber, Isabelle Werenfels (eds.)

Profiteers of Migration?

Authoritarian States in Africa and European Migration Management

SWP Research Paper 2018/RP 04, July 2018, 74 Pages

External Publications (selection):

Isabelle Werenfels, Luca Miehe

The jury's still out on Algeria

First anniversary of the Hirak movement

in: Qantara, 14.02.2020 (online)
Isabelle Werenfels, Luca Miehe

A National Solution to the Algerian Crisis?

PeaceLab, Global Public Policy Institute (GPPi), 20 September 2019 (online)
Isabelle Werenfels

"No to the Fifth Term": Algeria's New Protest Movement

A Conversation with Isabelle Werenfels

In: Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED), March 6, 2019 (online)
Isabelle Werenfels, Guido Steinberg

Regional trends after the dissolution of "old orders" in the Middle East and North Africa

In: David Ramin Jalilvand, Kirsten Westphal (Hrsg.): The Political and Economic Challenges of Energy in the Middle East and North Africa, Routledge, 2018, pp.13-26.
Isabelle Werenfels

Beyond authoritarian upgrading: the re-emergence of Sufi orders in Maghrebi politics

In: The Journal of North African Studies, 19 (June 2014) 3, pp. 275-295

In the Media/ »Point of View« (selection):

Isabelle Werenfels, Intissar Fakir

In Morocco, Benevolent Authoritarianism Isn’t Sustainable

in: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Commentary, 20.07.2020 (online)
Isabelle Werenfels, Max Gallien

Why Tunisia's Early Presidential Elections Will Test Its Democracy

In: Washington Post, Monkey Cage Blog, 23 August 2019.
Isabelle Werenfels, Mareike Transfeld

How Twitter can empower opposition forces in authoritarian countries

In: The Washington Post, December 2, 2016 (online)

SWP Comments

Muriel Asseburg
Palestinian Elections, Finally

Significance, Challenges and European Responsibilities

Günther Maihold, Melanie Müller, Christina Saulich, Svenja Schöneich
Responsibility in Supply Chains

Germany’s Due Diligence Act Is a Good Start

SWP Research Papers

Peter Lintl
The Haredim as a Challenge for the Jewish State

The Culture War over Israel’s Identity

Muriel Asseburg
Reconstruction in Syria

Challenges and Policy Options for the EU and its Member States