Syria, sectarianism to top Manama Dialogue agenda

October 19, 2013

Some 20 ministers have already confirmed their participation in an international security conference in Bahrain later this year.

The Manama Dialogue, to be held on December 6-8, is an inter-governmental summit held annually that allows national security leaders from the Gulf, wider Middle East, North America, Europe and Asia can consult bilaterally and multilaterally on key security and foreign policy challenges.

The meeting will be the ninth to be co-organised by the Bahraini foreign ministry and the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) since 2004 when it was launched.

“Senior governmental delegations will assemble to address key themes such as Syria, Egypt, sectarianism and extremism, GCC integration and military cooperation,” Mark Allworthy, Managing Director of IISS-Middle East, said. “With some twenty ministers already confirmed to participate, the Manama Dialogue continues to strengthen the international security architecture.”

IISS said that the Manama Dialogue would also “convene analysts, business leaders, former officials and prominent members of the media to ensure open and transparent discussions, and to offer support and understanding in influential circles of evolving government policy.”

The widening international security relationships of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) will be among the top themes to be discussed at the conference.

Other issues include sectarianism and extremism in politics, the geopolitics of energy security in the Middle East and GCC military cooperation and regional security.

The GCC, made up of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, was established in 1981.

The shifting military balance in the Middle East and the Arabian Gulf, the global security priorities for the US, Syria and the regional impact, intervention and mediation in defence diplomacy, and international interests in Middle East security will be discussed at the plenary sessions of the event.

The Manama Dialogue has been regularly used by diplomats and national security leaders from the Gulf, the Middle East, North America, Europe and Asia to consult on the key security and foreign policy challenges at the time.

“The Manama Dialogue offers an opportunity for public policy statements and private strategic debate,” IISS said.

“The engagement of responsible members of the analytical community, business leaders, former officials and influential media ensures open discussions, and can offer wider support and understanding in influential circles of evolving government policy,” IISS Director-General and Chief Executive John Chipman said. “The Manama Dialogue is a crucial pillar of the regional security architecture. It is independent, fair and transparent.”

Last year, the main speakers were William Burns, US deputy secretary of state, John McCain, ranking member of the US Senate Committee on Armed Services, Shaikh Khalid Bin Ahmad Al Khalifa, Bahrain’s foreign minister, Khalid Bin Mohammad Al Attiyah, then Qatar’s minister of state for foreign affairs and Prince Abdul Aziz Bin Abdullah Al Saud, Saudi Arabia’s deputy minister of foreign Affairs.

Other speakers were Abdul Lateef Al Zayani, the secretary general of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), William Hague, UK secretary of state for foreign and Commonwealth affairs and Nasser Judeh, Jordan’s minister of foreign affairs.



About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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