Arab Geopolitics 2020. The Middle East: what kind of future?
Rome, July 27, 2020



The Arab Geopolitics series of conferences was launched in 2011, inspired by the ambition of creating a forum that would gather together experts, decision-makers, policy advisors and influencers from and related to the Arab World. These events – held in Rome on an annual basis – wish to promote the Atlantic culture and the spirit behind the Mediterranean Dialogue and the NATO-Istanbul Cooperation Initiative. To know more, visit our dedicated webpage.



The focus on the Arab region is a fundamental priority for NATO and since its beginning the Foundation has dedicated a concentrated effort on the issue with yearly conferences.

The Arab region is undergoing another cycle of wars, after the four Arab-Israeli conflicts, three Israeli-Lebanese wars, the three Gulf wars, the creation of a self-styled “caliphate”, eight Arab revolutions, while two low intensity and three high intensity civil wars are ongoing.

In the past three years the struggle around Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Libya has polarised the area apparently around religious oppositions, but the reality shows competing regional clusters in the arena of destabilised countries and against a possible rising Iranian power.

On the backdrop of this regional competition major powers, among which Russia and China, are opportunistically exploiting the enduring turmoil to recover or expand their influence spheres, with indirect impact on energy security of supply.

NATO is already engaged in the surveillance of the Mediterranean’s illicit trafficking and providing training to Iraqi troops while still operating in Afghanistan and being solicited to increase its involvement in the Gulf.

The great loser in this power struggle is civil society, the same that in 2011 made heard her powerful voice and claim for change. War struck societies are mostly engaged in survival, but in some countries vigorous protests are staged that relay the same quest for concrete reforms.

The structure of the conference will be articulated in two sessions. The first one will discuss the geopolitical complexity of the region. The fragility affecting the states of the area is leading to a war of all against all and often forces local populations to leave their homelands. What is the role of the international community in settling the diverging interests?

The second session will focus on the open issue of civil society. The recent uprisings asked for a renovation of the political system and a significant social and economic transformation. In addition, since 2011, has any change occurred in the balance between the military forces, politics and civil societies?

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