Iraq, or ancient Mesopotamia, forms part of the broader MENA region (Middle East and North Africa), and is one of the European Union’s immediate neighbours. Since the start of the Arab Spring, the region has been characterised by huge political instability and terror threats. It is of strategic importance in the MENA region to the European Union, and therefore also for Flanders. Its young population means it has the ability to develop itself economically and that a democratic state under the rule of law is taking root. Flanders is active in the region in the areas of trade, ports and human rights.