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Middle East Security in a Changing World

02 Nov 2021

Middle East Security in a Changing World

02 Nov 2021

TRENDS Research and Advisory, in collaboration with the Atlantic Council, held its first annual conference titled “Middle East Security in a Changing World: Building a Sustainable Regional Security System” at the Atlantic Council headquarters in Washington. The conference featured a distinguished lineup of political figures and experts from around the world. The conference started with welcoming remarks by Dr. Mohammed Abdullah Al-Ali, CEO of TRENDS Research and Advisory, emphasizing the necessity of establishing a sustainable regional system in the Middle East based on recent positive developments. Tom Warick, Director of the Future of DHS Project and Nonresident Senior Fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security, Atlantic Council, called attention to the threat posed by Iran.

Geopolitical Shifts

HRH Prince Turki Al-Faisal, Chairman of King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies, delivered the opening remarks, highlighting the current geopolitical shift and advocating for a new regional system. He considered U.S.-Gulf relations as fundamental pillars for establishing stability and peace in the region.

In the conference’s keynote remarks, Joey Hood, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary at the U.S. Department of State, discussed President Joe Biden’s strategic vision committed to long-term relations with the Middle East and North Africa, acknowledging significant changes in the region, particularly the rise of China. The first session, titled “Redefining Middle East Security in an Era of Transition: A 20-Year Vision,” moderated by Stephen Blackwell, Scientific Advisor at TRENDS, featured Omar Al-Ubaydli, Director of Studies and Research at Bahrain Center for Strategic, International, and Energy Studies (DIRASAT), who discussed the security and developmental dimensions of regional economic cooperation, highlighting the opportunity for continued intellectual influence in achieving peace in the region despite the reduced physical presence of European powers and their U.S. ally.

Aisha Al-Sarihi, Research Associate at King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center in Saudi Arabia, emphasized the role of climate change in shaping Middle East security. Hesham Al Ghannam, Senior Advisor and Program Director of the International Studies Program, Gulf Research Center Cambridge, expressed optimism about the region’s future based on several indicators.

Marginalization and Absence of Justice

The second session, titled “Countering Violent Extremism and Terrorism in the Middle East and Beyond,” moderated by Lorenzo Vidino, Director of Program on Extremism at George Washington University, featured Anne Speckhard, Director of International Center for the Study of Violent Extremism, who discussed how ISIS is now urging terrorists to carry out attacks in their home countries. Louis Audet Gosselin, Scientific and Strategic Director at the Center for the Prevention of Radicalization Leading to Violence, Canada, identified the feeling of marginalization and injustice as key drivers of violent extremism. Patrice Brodeur, Associate Professor at the Institute of Religious Studies, University of Montreal, Canada, pointed out that the region has provided a fertile ground for political Islam movements. Ahmed Al Qasemi, Executive Director of Hedayah, UAE, stated that the UAE believes combating terrorism and extremism cannot be achieved solely through security measures but requires a comprehensive strategy.

America and China The third session, titled “The Future of Middle East Security: International Priorities,” featured Anthony Cordesman, Emeritus Chair in Strategy, Center for Strategic and International Studies, who discussed the internal transformation of the U.S. military to address challenges posed by China and Russia, warning against the dangers of a conflict in Taiwan.

Russian Expansion in the Middle East Anna Borshchevskaya, Senior Fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, discussed Russia’s efforts to strengthen its ties with Middle Eastern countries, highlighting President Vladimir Putin’s attempts to build good relations with various regional actors, taking advantage of the uncertainty left by Washington.

The Chinese Perspective on Middle East Security

Wen Wang, professor at Renmin University of China, stated that the security situation in the Middle East has improved in recent years and explained that China aims to cooperate with the region through the Belt and Road Initiative.

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