REEXAMINING OLD RELATIONSHIPS AND NEW
Doha hosted two back-to-back forums in May, indicative of how the Middle East might in the future end up balancing its relationships with an increasingly reticent US and an aggressively confident Russia.
This year the US-Islamic World Forum hosted by The Brookings Institute saw keynote addresses from US Special Presidential Envoy General John Allen, Colin Kahl, US Deputy Assistant to the President and National Security Adviser to the Vice President, and President Ashraf Ghani of Afghanistan who addressed the attendees via webcast. General Allen pointed out that in this region "the relationship between the United States and the world, and even the nature of the global order, this is a time when assumptions are rapidly changing." The scope of this forum highlighted the fact that though the Arab world's relationship with the US hasn't always been amicable, the two sides are very much invested in each other in the efforts to solve the region's growing challenges. Meanwhile, a few days earlier, at "Russia and the Arab World : Current Transformations of an Enduring Relationship" forum put together by the Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies examined the past, present and future relationship with Russia. Here, the participants were mostly academics and analysts who concluded that, though historically ties between Russia and the Arab world have been strong, through the Cold War and the fall of the Soviet Union these had virtually disappeared, with even trade ties lagging behind. Because of Russia's support of Assad's regime, Arabs viewed the erstwhile superpower with mistrust and the large role that Russia is expected to play in the region is ambiguous.