RE­EX­AM­IN­ING OLD RE­LA­TION­SHIPS AND NEW

Qatar Today - - AFFAIRS -

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.

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