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RSC Talk: A Century of Order and Disorder in the Middle East: Who’s to Blame? What to Do?


On Thursday, May 23rd, 2024, the Renaissance Strategic Center (RSC) hosted a talk titled “A Century of Order and Disorder in the Middle East: Who’s to Blame? What to Do?” with Dr. Rami Khouri. The talk was held under the Question of Palestine Program, one of the Renaissance Strategic Center’s thematic areas and Dr. Khoury is a member of ARDD Global Network on the Question of Palestine (GNQP).

Dr. Khouri, a Distinguished Fellow at the American University of Beirut and Senior Fellow at the Arab Center Washington is a renowned book author and political columnist for Al Jazeera Online.

The session, moderated by Dr. Yusuf Mansur, CEO of Envision Consulting Group and former Minister of State for Economic Affairs in Jordan, provided an in-depth exploration of the historical and contemporary challenges facing the Arab region.

Dr. Khouri retraced the history of the Arab region, starting from the fall of the Ottoman Empire and moving through colonization, decolonization, and the establishment of the nation-state, including military and authoritarian regimes. He emphasized that the past century has been defined by conflict, marked from the beginning by the implementation of the mandate of the League of Nations in 1923, which he described as a significant turning point. Dr. Khouri highlighted various factors that have prevented Arab states from achieving self-determination and validation, including foreign military intervention and Western political influence. He stressed that the unresolved Question of Palestine mirrors dynamics that have shaped both order and disorder in the region. Focusing on the 1980s and 1990s, he highlighted how mass discontent among citizens after the oil boom led to increased immigration, the rise of political Islam in response to socio-economic problems, and a surge in criminal activities and drug abuse. Unemployment and poverty rates have increased significantly since the 1980s, further exacerbating issues related to sovereignty, statehood, and citizenship, which Dr. Khouri identified as critical reasons for the difficulties faced by many Arab states. He examined the impact of the 2000s Arab Uprisings and its challenges due to entrenched power structures.  He noted the ongoing need for sustainable mechanisms for citizen participation and emphasized that further disorder could occur without intervention with the new environmental threat of climate change.

Dr. Khouri’s talk sparked an insightful discussion, highlighting the importance of understanding historical contexts and the need for collaborative efforts to address ongoing challenges in the Middle East.