The Levant: From Ancient Gateway to Modern Chaos - The Search for a Regional Order - Regional Programme Political Dialogue and regional Integration in the Southern Mediterranean
The Levant as a region has historically played an important role in international politics due to its geostrategic position, hydrocarbon resources and proximity to Islamic, Christian and Jewish religious sites. Moreover, powerful regional actors and their diverse military, political and economic interests create numerous fault lines and drivers of conflicts. The outbreak of the Arab Spring in late 2010 with popular uprisings against autocratic regimes in the Middle East and North Africa has further unsettled the balances in the region and the crises in Iraq and Syria continue to threaten stability and prosperity all around. The breakup of state apparatuses, oftentimes termed as state failure, has provoked political polarization, sectarianism and occasional civil wars, enabling the emergence of powerful non-state actors in the region. Disagreements between the key regional powers, external interventions and shifting alignments between regional and international actors in a multipolar constellation have added new layers to the already complex and unpredictable situation.
In order to contribute to the discussion on this topic, the KAS Regional Program South Mediterranean and the International Relations Council of Turkey invited a group of 20 international experts and academics to a conference. During the two conference days, the participants discussed the various aspects and actors that influence the formation of a sustainable regional order for the Levant. The different panels addressed topics such as the role of identity politics and non-state actors for regional order, ways in which political system shape regional order, as well as the regional economic framework as important variable in the creation and maintenance of a regional order. Furthermore, the interests and strategies of external actors towards the Levant region were discussed to better understand how regional order is influenced by these actors.