2017 Plenary 7: Rebuilding the Middle East: From Civil War to Civil Society

In 2012, protests rocked the Arab world. Starting in Tunisia, strongmen leaders who seemed invincible saw their power erode or vanish altogether. But the Arab Spring gave way to the Arab Winter. Political reforms stalled or reversed and instability ensued. How can the Middle East reach the long Arab Summer of peace, democracy and stability? Panelists discussed instability in the Middle East that is due in part to the arbitrary borders carved up by the major powers a century ago. This intervention by major powers continues today. It was noted that political parties that engage in terrorist activities undermine the democratic process and create instability. Western powers need to be more consistent in both their actions and in the values they hope to instil in the Middle East. There was consensus that a democratic election does not simply make a state free and democratic. Whether it’s Egypt, Libya, Iraq or Syria – it’s about values, education, investment and planning for the day after.