Between Europe and the Gulf: Reconsidering Strategic Interest in the Middle East

The Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS) organized a conference in the Kempinski Dead Sea Resort in Jordan entitled, Between Europe and the Gulf: Reconsidering Strategic Interest in the Middle East between the dates of December 15-17, 2013. The participant list included various reputable European and Middle Eastern research and academic institutions. The three-day event covered a wide variety of developments in the Middle East. Syria was at the forefront of discussions, where local, regional and international aspects of the conflict were brought into light in order to assess the strategic dimensions of the ongoing conflict. Tehran has extensive interests in developments in Syria, and treats the conflict as a domestic issue. Additionally, the effects of Syrian refugee camps in Jordan were also presenting challenges to the Kingdom’s infrastructure and budget. The retreat of political Islam in post-Morsi Egypt was also analyzed, where certain movements have gone underground once again. The recent P5+1 and Iranian agreement has had rippling affects throughout the region, however time is still needed in order to determine success of the accord. Lebanon, in particular, witnessed effects from the deal, where any peaceful reconciliation will likely be transmitted to Beirut. Mahmood Abdulghaffar of DERASAT discussed historical relations within the Arabian Gulf and how the current status became to be, while also presenting Bahrain’s alliance building efforts in order to maintain stability in the region. Finally, the participants agreed that more must be done in order to enhance Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and European Union (EU) relations, where relief aid and investments in the Mediterranean states could prove to be fruitful ventures. Overall, the conference was successful in transferring various perspectives and theories on the region, which reflects KAS’s continuing efforts to engage in the Middle East

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