Asan Plenum

Session: Session 6 / Grand Ballroom III
Date/Time: May 1, 2013 / 15:30-16:45

Panel Description

Two years since the “Arab Spring” first began, the Middle East and North Africa remains leaderless. The old sources of power and influence at both the domestic and international level are waning. The United States, worn down by a decade of intervention and attempted state-building, is pulling back from the region. Meanwhile, the region’s major powers appear unable to take the initiative. Egypt has been politically paralyzed ever since President Muhammad Morsi and his fellow political Islamists took power. Turkey’s Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan may have bitten off more than he can chew concerning the Syrian civil war. Iran is caught in a stand-off with Israel and the West over its nuclear program, even as it tries to support its Shiite allies across the region. Lastly, Saudi Arabia has nervously watched events unfolding around it while lacking a coherent regional policy. The region requires regional and national leaders capable of meeting the urgent political, economic, security and environmental challenges at hand.

Guiding Questions

  1. What will fill this leadership vacuum? Who will emerge to take charge and shape developments in the region?
  2. Will it be the political Islamists that have so spectacularly risen to prominence or perhaps the often-cited but ever-contested “Arab Street”?
  3. What of the tiny Gulf monarchy of Qatar? With his ambitious intervention during the Libyan civil war and support for the rebels in Syria, does Sheikh Al Thani offer the best hope for regional activism and leadership?