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Shifting sands: an uncertain future for the Middle East in the 2020s

This virtual seminar hosted by the Foreign Policy Centre in partnership with the SEPAD (Sectarianism, Proxies & De-sectarianisation) project at the Richardson Institute for Peace at the University of Lancaster will examine the future of the Middle East in 2020 and beyond. The role of the US in the region is increasingly contested and Washington’s key allies – Saudi Arabia and other GCC states – have felt increasingly pressure from Iran. Russia has been expanding its influence across the Middle East sometimes working with and sometimes contesting Turkish regional aspirations. The seminar will explore the evolving geo-political dynamics in the region and examine what role the UK has to play in this challenging environment.

The virtual seminar will examine regional situation in the context of the Coronavirus crisis and the oil price shock that has shaken the region (and the world) and poses immense challenges for the years ahead. The seminar will also look at what the emergence of the protest movements across Lebanon and Iraq that are challenging the role of sectarian identities and the political status quo means for the ordering of political life in the region. It will examine how the demands of these protesters and the public across the region might shape the politics of the coming years and discuss what this might mean for regional players and the international community.

Watch the event here:


When July 7, 2020 4pm-5.30pm

The event will take place on Zoom.


Wayne David MP, Shadow Middle East Minister

Dr May Darwich, Lecturer in international relations of the Middle East at the University of Birmingham

Dr Simon Mabon, Director of SEPAD and the Richardson Institute for Peace Studies at Lancaster University

Dr Edward Wastnidge, Deputy Director of the SEPAD project

Chair: Bel Trew, Middle East Correspondent of the Independent

Listen to an audio recording of the event here.

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