A dis­cus­sion at Brook­ings Doha around how the re­newed con­flict in the Mid­dle East goes beyond sec­tar­ian di­vides brought to­gether thinkers from the UAE, US and Qatar for an en­gag­ing 90-minute ses­sion.

Qatar Today - - CULTURE > DOHA DIARY -

Mod­er­ated by Sul­tan Barakat, Di­rec­tor of Re­search at Brook­ings Doha Cen­tre, the evening saw a heated de­bate among po­lit­i­cal sci­ence pro­fes­sor at Emi­rates Univer­sity, Ab­dulkhaleq Ab­dulla; non-res­i­dent se­nior fel­low at Brook­ings Doha Cen­tre and pro­fes­sor at Bush School of Gov­ern­ment and Pub­lic Ser­vice, Texas A&M Univer­sity, F. Gre­gory Gause III; and Mehran Kam­rava, Pro­fes­sor and Di­rec­tor, Cen­ter for In­ter­na­tional and Re­gional Stud­ies at Ge­orge­town Univer­sity, on how fac­tors beyond sec­tar­i­an­ism are fu­el­ing the con­flicts in the re­gion. Pro­fes­sor Gause opened with some in­sights from his lat­est pa­per, say­ing that la­bel­ing the ‘new Mid­dle East cold war' as a Shia- Sunni con­flict over-sim­pli­fies it and it is im­por­tant to take into con­sid­er­a­tion the weak­en­ing of gov­ern­ments in the re­gion and the am­bi­tions of some of the state play­ers. “If this is a purely sec­tar­ian con­flict, Saudi Ara­bia, the Mus­lim Brother­hood, Al Qaeda, Turkey and ISIS would be on the same side,” he said. Pro­fes­sor Ab­dulla said that the re­gion was still ex­pe­ri­enc­ing the “first ten min­utes” of the changes that were kick started with the Arab Spring. Cou­pled with that are the ris­ing forces of ex­trem­ism, he said, in­di­cat­ing that he was pes­simistic about this be­ing re­solved quickly and with­out more blood­shed. Kam­er­ava also pointed out that sec­tar­ian shades were in­tro­duced to emerg­ing up­ris­ings by the pow­ers that may be, as in the case of Bahrain.

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