February 2, 2016 │ 10:00 am - 11:00 am
The National Press Club, 529 14th Street NW, Murrow Room - 13th Floor, Washington, DC 2004

With Russia’s intervention in the Syrian conflict and Iran’s return from global isolation, the year 2015 was a watershed for the Middle East. Today the situation remains in flux, with renewed tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia and Turkey’s increasing clampdown on Kurdish fighters.

Following the start of the latest round of Syria peace talks, the Center on Global Interests hosted a discussion that that presented a clearer picture of the major players and their respective interests in the Middle East. What are the goals of the Western and Arab Coalitions in Syria? How will Iran’s engagement shift the balance of power in the region? How many wars are actually going on in Syria, and what are the motivations of the belligerents? And, ultimately, what are the long-term trajectories of U.S. and Russian foreign policy in the region?

The discussion was moderated by Karoun Demirjian, defense and foreign policy correspondent for The Washington Post. 


Mark Katz, Professor of Government and Politics, George Mason University; author of The Third World in Soviet Military Thought (1982), Russia and Arabia: Soviet Foreign Policy toward the Arabian Peninsula (1986), Gorbachev’s Military Policy in the Third World (1989), and Leaving without Losing: The War on Terror after Iraq and Afghanistan (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2012), among others.

Michael Kofman, Public Policy Fellow at the Kennan Institute, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars; adviser to military and government officials on Russian/Eurasian security issues.

David Ottaway, Senior Scholar in the Middle East Program, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars; former Middle East correspondent, The Washington Post, and two-time finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.

Jean-François Seznec, Managing Partner of the Lafayette Group LLC and Senior Adviser to PFC Energy, Washington DC; current Visiting Associate Professor at Georgetown University’s Center for Contemporary Arab Studies.