Valdai Club Conference Discusses Transformation in the Arab World

Russia’s Sochi played host to the Valdai Discussion Club Middle East section’s conference “Transformation in the Arab World and Russia’s Interests” on February 17-18, 2012.

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The Middle East is a high priority in Russia’s foreign policy. Recent changes in the Middle East are impacting global politics, as well as the regional political, economic and military interests of the Russian Federation. Additionally, they will affect its relations with the United States, the EU, China, and other influential international powers.

“The Valdai Discussion Club conferences on the Middle East have become major international events where representatives from different countries, political forces, and professional groups including politicians, academicians, and journalists can openly exchange views on the dramatic developments in the region,” said Vitaly Naumkin, Director of the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Oriental Studies.

Arab Spring-related changes have required Russian and foreign analysts to evaluate the main causes and the immediate results of this regional transformation. It is necessary to review the new balance of political, nationalist and religious forces and the deterioration of interreligious and inter-ethnic relations in the region. The conference will also assess what effect the Arab Spring has had in terms of the formation of a new regional alignment of forces, on international relations in general, on the prospects for a peace settlement in the Middle East, and on external influences in the region – something that is particularly timely in view of the events in Libya and Syria.

The conference attracted as many as 100 leading Middle East experts from Russia, Great Britain, Egypt, Israel, Iran, Iraq, China, Lebanon, the Palestinian Authority, Singapore, Syria, the UAE, the United States, Turkey, France, Switzerland, Sweden, and Yemen.

Conference organizers include Russian News and Information Agency RIA Novosti, the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, and the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy.