IPI-MENA Hosts Tony Blair on Opportunities and Challenges in the Middle East

Evolution is better than revolution was one sentiment expressed on the future of the Middle East at this Global Leaders Forum with Tony Blair, former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. Successful societies come from an open-minded society that promotes religious tolerance and an economy that is rule-based, according to participants who are of the opinion that it is better for the Middle East if it would strive to evolve.

Reasons behind the Arab Spring range from frustrated youth, rise of social media, mixture of bad politics, weak institutions, and lack of clarity around the role of religion in government, according to participants.

The session, held on March 1, 2016, was moderated by IPI MENA Director Nejib Friji and included representatives from government, ambassadors, various religious figures, businesswomen and men, media leaders, and civil society representatives.

The meeting focused on the recent developments in Syria, Iraq, Palestine, Egypt, Libya, Yemen and other Middle Eastern and North African countries. In this regard, the participants agreed on the need to unite all efforts to tackle violent extremism. The discussion had a wide range of views on attempts to de-stabilize successful countries, arguing they will have unpleasant consequences.

The IPI initiative on regional cooperation and integration was discussed as an important approach to seek an end to divisions, conflicts, and lay the ground for sustainable cooperation for development between the large number of nations in the region and the neighborhood.  Comments went that societies work best when they are pluralistic and there was a need to create a society in which people can tolerate disagreement.

Attention was drawn to the plight of the refugees in Jordan, stressing that one out of five people in Jordan is a Syrian refugee.

The session concluded with the sentiment that religious leaders have a powerful role in promoting peace and tolerance and in educating people of their faith not to be disrespectful to other religions.

The event was part of IPI’s Global Leaders Series.