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New lines in the sand?

Published: Tuesday, 12th April 2016

In March, Ditchley hosted a conference on the subject “Change in the Middle East: new lines in the sand?”.
    
The issues could not have been more topical, or more difficult and complex in many ways. Those seated around the table tried to lift their eyes above the immediate turbulence in so much of the region, to look for the longer-term ways forward, and although this was a struggle at times, they were nevertheless able to identify some practical directions. Perhaps above all it was hoped that the region’s leaders would focus more on how to satisfy the economic and social aspirations of their growing populations than on political and sectarian rivalries which promised little for the future.

Meanwhile bringing the current conflicts to an end, countering IS/Daesh effectively and promoting Iranian/Saudi reconciliation had to be top priorities. For outsiders doing no harm was often the best that could be hoped for, at this stage, but in the short term helping the countries most affected by the refugee burden, assisting Tunisia turn political compromise into economic success, and ensuring the Palestinian time bomb was not ignored should be at the top of to-do lists. Should changing borders be on the agenda? Mostly it was hoped not, but reality may have other ideas.
 
To read the full report click here.