The 9th Al Jazeera Forum: Conflict and Change in the Arab World

Four years have passed since the Arab Spring broke out in Tunisia, but the region is still limping in the path towards democracy. Syria’s civil war has shaken the region’s stability; Yemen has disintegrated and is heading towards an unprecedented sectarian struggle; Iraq is in turmoil and its very existence as a state is threatened; Libya is torn apart by rivalries between various political actors and armed groups. The rise of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant has sent shockwaves across the Middle East and beyond.

Elsewhere in the region, the counter-revolutionary movements have flourished, stemming the democratic drive of the revolutionary wave. Countries that were not sucked into the Arab Spring turmoil have been slow to implement reforms or have abandoned them altogether. At the same time, there has been little progress on the Palestinian issue, as Gaza suffered yet another destructive war.

Instability clouds the future of the region. There have been calls for the return of the authoritarian regimes to restore security and fight the threat of terrorism. Many in the region are questioning the benefits of revolution and whether democracy in the Arab world is possible.

Nonetheless, the movement for freedom and democracy has not been stamped out in the Arab World. The walls of fear have crumbled and the return of the military regimes of the past has become impossible.

Rapid change is what now defines the Arab context, for the region stands at a crossroads: Either the movement for change will start on a path toward reform, democracy and the rule of law, or the region will head towards more conflict, disintegration and the socio-economic failure of the nation-states.

In this context, Al Jazeera Centre for Studies is organising the 9th Al Jazeera Forum, “Conflict and Change in the Arab World”, to address the current developments and discuss the future of the region. The forum will convene 4-6 May 2015, bringing together political leaders, intellectuals, journalists, and activists from the Arab world and beyond.

The following topics will be addressed during the forum:

  • Conflict in the Middle East: Regional and international implications
  • The role of the media in conflict
  • Future trends of democracy and authoritarianism in the Middle East
  • Regional divisions: National identity, political realities and sectarianism
  • The socio-economic aspect of conflict
  • The Palestinian cause and the prospects for peace
  • Politics and the military in the Middle East