"Middle East: World Crisis?" Under this dramatic title, the German Foreign Policy Association (DGAP) recently invited to the Middle East Conference in Berlin. The whole spectrum of the Middle East issue was thematized: the civil war in Syria / Iraq and Iran's link to the conflict, the Egypt / Saudi Arabia / Turkey situation and the Israel-Palestine conflict. Among the total of 28 lecturers, Fritt Ord's director Knut Olav Åmås and Unni Wikan from UiO held introductions and lectures respectively. Two important issues that stood out were women's rights in Iran and the civil war in Syria / Iraq, where ISIS's emergence is sadly relevant.
The generous culinary and power-striking architectural frameworks at Rauchstrasse close to the Nordic embassies provide the conference with a peaceful and summery frame, but still fail to hide the lingering conflicts and contradictory opinions that lie in participants' cultural and political heritage – and which during the conference seems to express itself in eruptive actions and expressions of opinion.
Middle East history professor at Mason University Shaul Bakhash talks about Iran's growing influence, involvement and increasingly important position of power in Syria's civil war, Iran's new regional role in the wake of the nuclear deal with the Western powers and opponent Saudi Arabia's growing frustration as "parked" oil power and active supporter .
Already here we recognize how culturally and economically conditional, complex ideological and religious contradictions form historically deep abyss that seem invincible. We face a seemingly insoluble bunch of superpower interests, rival struggles for influence, resources, and religious and ethnic contradictions that go in each direction. Bakhash points out that it is the security service, the Revolutionary Guard and the army in Iran that have the real power – President Rohani's assigned role is first and foremost to attract new investors to the country and boost Iran's strained economy.
Tough cookies. Haleh Esfandiari, director of the Middle East Program at the Woodrow Wilson Center in New York, highlights Iranian women as social trendsetters in Iran and the Middle East, characterizing them as "tough cookies" – women. . .
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