The session titled "Global players: To leave or not to leave, that is the question" opened the second day of the Valdai Club’s Middle East conference. The Middle East region, which was long under the influence of external players, has entered a new period. Can the external actors cooperate with regional powers under the common idea and what tools they could use to stabilize the situation in the region? Who among of the global players has sufficient clout and influence in the region and whose interests are moved away from the Middle East policy? All these questions the experts discussed at the 5th session of the conference "The Middle East: When Will Tomorrow Come?"
Paul Vallely, Major General, US Army (Ret), Chairman of the Stand Up America and the Legacy National Security Advisory Group, proposed a move away from a politicized settlement of the issue toward more real actions. According to him, the renunciation of political interests and overly bureaucratized non-government organizations will bring much more benefit to the region. A preliminary condition for the stabilization of the situation is the establishment of a "security zone", as well as coordinated actions of Russia and the United States with regional actors in the implementation of the plan for the revival of Syria.
P. R. Kumaraswamy, Professor of Middle Eastern Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, noted that India, being the largest Asian country, has no real political interests in the Middle East. During the Obama administration, US influence in the region has decreased significantly, and the goal is to restore it under the new president, Donald Trump. The sooner action is to taken to strengthen the influence of the United States, the softer will be the consequences for America and for the world.
According to Professor P. R. Kumaraswamy, the EU has also moved away from the Middle East issues, focusing on domestic policy and a series of upcoming elections. Further European policy in the Middle East will depend on the future architecture of the European Union. Russia maintains relations with all Middle Eastern actors, its position is unique, but rather complicated, as it is necessary to take the side of one group or coalition, or another. The only regional player seeking to expand its influence is Iran, which causes has caused dissatisfaction and apprehension among the Gulf States.
Nabil Fahmy, former Egyptian Foreign Minister (2013-2014) and Dean of the School of International Relations and Public Policy at the American University in Cairo, said that it is necessary for regional players to become more active and play a bigger role in the resolution of regional instability and tensions. According to Fahmy, the role of external actors should focused on the organization of states in the region for conducting general negotiations, rather than in making decisions without their participation, as has taken place in conditions of dependence on world powers. The additional complexity for the international community in making decisions and building a new Middle East architecture is the disintegration that arose in connection with a variety of factors, such as globalization and the changing balance of power.
Discussing the legitimacy of Iran's influence in the region and its place in the policies of the new US President was a common theme throughout the discussion. During the session, the role of China and BRICS was discussed, as well as the possibility of the European Union’s renewed interest in playing a greater role in the Middle East.