Mideast Valdai Conference, Session 2. Conflicts in the Middle East and the prospects of their settlement
Moscow, Valdai Discussion Club Conference Hall
List of speakers

Anatoly Torkunov, rector of MGIMO University, opened Session 2 "Conflicts in the Middle East and the prospects of their settlement". "Conflicts at the moment are a permanent element of life in the Middle East. They have not only internal but also region-wide character. Ideas, designed to unite the conflicting parties have not shown significant results ", - he said.

Konstantin Kosachev, Chairman of the Federation Council Committee for foreign affairs, said that the diversity and complexity of such a region as the Middle East, requires external assistance to solve millennial conflicts. However, it is important that the mediation to achieve peaceful purposes would not be transformed into regime imposition and dictatorship.

According to Raghida Dergham, executive chairman of the Beirut Institute, the Vienna talks, which replaced Geneva, are the undoubted success. Arrangements for the "Plan A" implementation were the most important step forward in resolving the conflict in Syria. The complexity of the Syrian problem is worsened by the prevailing power triangle: the Syrian government, the opposition and the terrorists, each of whom has a strong influence in the region. Participants generally agreed that for the effective influence of the international community on the Syrian conflict must be interaction and dialogue between leading actors in the region.

"It is important to note that the participation of foreign players should be treated separately from the national public interest, and aimed primarily at stopping the bloodshed, without repeating the scenario of the " democratization of the Greater Middle East ", which turned out as a complete failure and deepened existing contradictions," - Konstantin Kosachev said.

Seyed Mohammad Marandi, Associate Professor of English Literature and Orientalism at the University of Tehran, said that Syria's political system should not be put at the forefront during the negotiations on the settlement of the Syrian conflict. Only the Syrian people has right to choose and evaluate the activities of the Syrian government representatives.

Panelists came to similar conclusions during the discussion of the Palestinian issue. Mustafa Barghouti, Secretary General of the Palestinian National Initiative party, pointed out that the Arab-Israeli conflict was one of the most long-standing and explosive in the region. The solution can be found only by the interaction between all the leading political forces in the region. It is necessary to consider initiatives proposed by other countries interested in solving this problem. The most viable scenario of the Palestinian conflict at the moment is a creation of a unified state in Israeli and Palestinian territories with equal rights and opportunities for all ethnic groups living there.

Finally, one of the key themes of the session was ISIS, reasons of its appearance, as well of ways to combat it effectively. According to Joseph Bahout, visiting scholar in Carnegie’s Middle East Program, there should be not only a military intervention, but also the democratization of the population, the arrival of the rule of law. This should happen in a natural way and without the intervention of outside powers, interested in the region. According to the speaker, Russia looks favorably in this respect if compared with other players, because it tends to stabilize the international situation as a whole. Furthermore, Russia, as noted by Raghida Dergham, has a history of positive relations with the Arab world.

Settlement of inflamed conflicts in the Middle East is needed also for the European countries, faced with a huge number of refugees. The manifestation of xenophobia in Europe and the rise of nationalist movements, according to Joseph Bahout, can not lead to anything else than to the weakening and collapse of the world order.

Participants agreed that during the discussion and decision-making in the Middle East a rational assessment of the situation is needed. It is important not to provoke emotions. Regional actors will be able to achieve much more together than in a situation of a plurality of mutual contradictions.