IPI HomeEventsPanel DiscussionsRød-Larsen: Collapse of the Middle East Tent?

 

print print  |  share share back back

Panel Discussions - Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Rød-Larsen: Collapse of the Middle East Tent?

In a briefing at IPI's Vienna office, IPI President Terje Rød-Larsen warned that the situation in Egypt could have historic ramifications.

"The political landscape of the Middle East is changing, with consequences as dramatic as the revolutions in Europe of 1848 and 1989," he said.

"All countries of the region are different, but they are all being impacted," he said. "The world will also be affected; look at the jump in oil prices, the impact of shipping through the Suez Canal, and the political ripple effects."

Mr. Rød-Larsen, who has years of experience as a trouble-shooter in the Middle East, identified four epicenters of the conflagration in the Middle East: Iraq; Iran; Syria-Lebanon; and the Arab-Israeli conflict.

He also underlined vulnerabilities in Jordan, Libya and Yemen, and the crisis in Tunisia, and described how international relations in the region are based on perceptions as much as facts, and that the perceptions of states to each other and to the West are in a potentially dangerous state of flux.

Quoting a senior official from the Gulf, Mr. Rød-Larsen said that the Middle East is like a tent supported by two poles: Egypt and Saudi Arabia. "If one of the poles breaks, the whole tent will collapse."

Mr. Rød-Larsen urged the international community to take an active role in seeking a peaceful end to the current crisis in Egypt. He noted that the opposition is heterogeneous and lacks leadership. He underlined the need for solving issues through dialogue rather than on the streets.

Participants in the briefing discussed the impact of changes in Egypt on the Arab-Israeli conflict. Mr. Rød-Larsen pointed out that Egypt, under President Mubarak, had been a source of stability in the region for more than three decades. He described his recent contacts with the Egyptian elite and explained their perception of the situation. The timeliness of his remarks was underscored by demonstrations in Tahrir Square.

While in Vienna, Mr. Rød-Larsen held a number of meetings to launch projects that will be carried out by the IPI Vienna office over the next two years, particularly in areas of conflict prevention and transnational threats. IPI’s Vienna office opened in September 2010, and is IPI’s first office outside of New York.

The Global Observatory

Building a Sustainable Future Requires Leadership from State and Citizen
A product of negotiations, the 17 SDGs may not be perfect, but they can serve as clear goals for popular movements, local communities, and all manner of networks.

Key Global Events to Watch in September
A list of key upcoming meetings and events with implications for global affairs.

2014 Top 10 Issues to Watch in Peace & Security: The Global Arena
A list of ten key issues to watch that are likely to impact international peace and security in 2014, compiled by IPI's Francesco Mancini.

The Global Observatory, produced by IPI, provides timely analysis on peace and security issues, interviews with leading policymakers, interactive maps, and more.

Recent Events

September 22, 2014
Kevin Rudd, Former Australian PM, to Chair Independent Commission on Multilateralism
Kevin Rudd, former Prime Minister of Australia, will chair the newly launched Independent Commission on Multilateralism (ICM). The Commission will be co-chaired by Børge Brende, Foreign Minister of Norway, and John Baird, Foreign Minister of Canada.

September 19, 2014
Madani: Extremist Group Actions “Cannot be Associated with Any Religion”
Iyad Madani, the Secretary-General of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), reaffirmed at IPI the Muslim world’s commitment to religious tolerance and human rights and sought to distance Islam from the recent violent actions at the hands of extremist groups across Africa and the Middle East.

September 17, 2014
Abdullahi: To Be “At Peace with Itself,” Africa Needs to Address Structural Flaws
On September 17th, the African Union’s (AU) Commissioner for Political Affairs Aisha L. Abdullahi acknowledged that Africa had come a long way in its quest for democratic governance, but added that it would have to address the structural causes that often plunge it into conflict in order to “be at peace with itself, secure, and corruption-free.”

View More