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Shifting sands: The UK’s role in the Middle East and the changing international order

This seminar, organised by the FPC and the SEPAD (Sectarianism, Proxies and De-sectarianisation) project at the Richardson Institute for Peace at Lancaster University, aims to look at the evolving picture across the region, looking at the key challenges on the ground, the continuing geo-strategic tensions and the impact of the Biden Administration’s policy agenda. The diplomatic dynamics are becoming increasingly complex with traditional Western allies – such as Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE –  under increasing scrutiny over their human rights records and conduct in Yemen, at the same time as the new Administration steps back from the Trump-era ‘maximum pressure’ on Iran as it seeks to revive the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Conflicts across the region still roil whilst COVID-19 has pushed already fragile governments, such as in Lebanon, to the brink.

The UK is seeking to reshape its role in the region following the launch of the Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy, making important decisions about deployment of its resources and diplomatic focus. Britain has a long history in the region, which provides both opportunities and challenges. The discussion will look at how the UK balances its strategic, security, humanitarian, human rights and trade priorities across the Middle East and where it can most effectively promote British interests and values in the region.


Listen to an audio recording of the event here and you can watch the video of the event here.

When June 16, 2021 5:00pm-6:30pm (BST)

The event will take place on Zoom.


Rt Hon Alistair Burt, Pro-Chancellor at Lancaster University and former Minister of State for the Middle East

Professor Simon Mabon, Director of the SEPAD project and Chair in International Politics at Lancaster University

Dr Edward Wastnidge, Deputy Director of the SEPAD project and Senior Lecturer in Politics & International Studies at the Open University

Dr May Darwich, Lecturer in International Relations of the Middle East at the University of Birmingham

Chair: Baroness Northover, Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson on Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs

Listen to an audio recording of the event here.

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