Asan Plenum

A.Leadership and the Legacies of the Arab Spring

The uprisings of the “Arab Spring” dramatically transformed the face of leadership in the Middle East. Today, Tunisia and Egypt continue their struggles to build democracy while Syria remains embroiled in a bloody war between supporters of the Bashar al-Assad regime and a determined opposition movement. Islamist parties have gained significant political influence in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya, while many young Arabs point to Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s government, with its mixture of Islam and modern cosmopolitanism, as a model for political leadership in the Middle East. This panel will explore the legacies of the Arab Spring, including the empowerment of Islamist parties, the varying experiences of democratization and the prospects for future stabilization.

B.The Future of the Middle East Peace Process (Israel-Palestine-Syria-Lebanon)

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict continues to defy attempts at resolution. This panel will take stock of recent developments in the peace process. How has the “Arab Spring” affected the relationship between Palestinian and Israeli political forces? Can the Erdoğan government in Turkey be an effective moderator between Syria and Israel? What are we to make of the tension over Iran’s suspected nuclear weapons program and the ramifications for Israel’s regional relationships? And can the Obama administration’s vision of a two-state solution survive if a Republican administration wins the 2012 presidential election in the United States?

C. Energy and Oil in the Middle East

With international pressure on Iranian fuel exports growing as a result of concerns over its nuclear program, tension is ratcheting up in OPEC, particularly between Iran and Saudi Arabia. What are the important political dynamics in the Middle East and how is U.S. policy developing? How will the prospects for war and escalating political crises in the Middle East impact the price and global supply of fuel? How does the situation bear on the economies of East Asia, and Northeast Asia in particular? What are Asia’s alternative sources of supply? How will the situation impact East Asia’s relationships with the Middle East, with the United States? How does it impact intra-Asia relationships?

D. Implications of Iran’s Nuclear (Weapons) Program

Iran claims its nuclear program is peaceful, but the United Nations Security Council has declared Iran’s behavior to be a threat to international peace and security. Many states suspect that Tehran is intent on developing nuclear weapons, or at least building the capability to do so; Israel has threatened to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities. Iran’s nuclear program is thus becoming a dangerous flashpoint in the Middle East and a conflict could have catastrophic consequences for regional stability. This panel will analyze the unfolding crisis from multiple angles. How is Iran’s behavior viewed from the Middle East and from East Asia? What are the implications of Iran’s behavior for the nuclear nonproliferation regime? How is the crisis affecting oil and gas markets? And what might be the consequences of conflict for states in the Middle East, for the global economy and for American leadership?