Topics and Objectives

Co-sponsors: Egyptian Institute for Studies
International Relations Academy
Syrian Forum
South Forum

Symposium

Saturday-Sunday, January 27-28, 2018

Prospects of Political and Social Change in the MENA Region 
from a Geopolitical Perspective

In the past two decades, the region that extends from North Africa to Central Asia, and from Anatolia to sub-Saharan Africa, incorporating major parts of the Muslim world, has gone through significant changes and transformations. Thus, a serious attempt to reshape the post-colonial order and reconstitute the power structures in the region has been underway. From two major U.S. wars and invasions in Afghanistan and Iraq, to the Arab Spring phenomenon that shook much of the political order in the Arab World; and from the counteroffensive against popular movements by anti-revolutionary forces in the Middle East in alliance with foreign powers, to the Palestinian fierce resistance against the consolidation of Israeli hegemony over Jerusalem and the Palestinian territories, these events have polarized the region causing major shifts in alliances and serious reorientation of priorities by many political actors in the region.

The current American administration in alliance with Israel and the counter-revolutionary regimes in the Arab world has exhibited an antagonistic and hostile policies towards regimes and political movements that either have sympathetic tendencies towards political Islam and Palestinian rights, or have shown independence and resolve in their political choices. In short, this administration has come to power with a focused agenda in the Middle East in favor of defeating or weakening the latter, and strengthening and emboldening the former. In particular, this unholy alliance is targeting three main centers of power in the region, namely: (a) the popular Islamic movements (as supposed to the extremists that have little popular support), as well as the revolutionary and resistance movements against Israel or autocratic regimes, (b) Iran, and (c) states such as Turkey, Qatar, and Sudan that have shown independence or supported in varying degrees the other political players which are antagonistic to Israel or its Arab allies.

As the alliance of the American-Israeli-counterrevolutionary regimes takes shape, how should the targets of this alliance behave? Can they forgo their narrow short-term interests, and overcome the challenges of sectarianism, nationalism, and opportunism? What are their strategic choices? What are the geopolitical implications of this trilateral alliance on the future of the region? What are the likely future scenarios and possible compromises related to these unfolding developments? This symposium will attempt to address all these questions and more.

The main objective of this symposium is to bring academics, intellectuals, and political practitioners from Turkey, Iran, as well as from across the Arab World in order to:

(a) Share various perspectives on the most pressing challenges facing the region,

(b) Attempt to formulate a common understanding and vision about these challenges, and

(c) Devise a common strategy that would address them.