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Building a Future of Unity in Middle East

The recent war in Gaza has not only rekindled the international focus on the Palestinian issue but has also highlighted a shift in the political dynamics within the Middle East.

The United States, traditionally a key player in the region, seems to wield less influence, prompting regional powers to take the lead in mediating and coordinating policy responses. This newfound unity among key players presents a unique opportunity for the Middle East to establish more permanent regional institutions and arrangements, particularly in the realm of security.


While episodic summits and ad hoc groupings have defined the regional landscape, the absence of a permanent forum for regional security remains a critical gap. In contrast to other parts of the world, the Middle East stands as a global exception. The pressing need for coordination and de-escalation in the region, especially in the aftermath of the Gaza war, underscores the urgency of establishing a dedicated regional security forum.


The proposed Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Forum could serve as a platform for comprehensive regional dialogue. Initially focusing on cross-cutting issues such as climate, energy, and emergency responses to crises, the forum could provide a mechanism for broader cooperation.

While the resolution of specific conflicts, like the Israeli-Palestinian issue, may require separate initiatives, the MENA Forum could coordinate positions on postwar Gaza through its emergency response agenda, including humanitarian support and reconstruction aid.


A MENA Forum, centered on cooperative security dialogues, could prove instrumental in improving communication and coordination among regional powers. Though not directly mediating conflicts, the forum would offer a platform for regular contacts and trust-building.

This process could support conflict resolution in various arenas, including the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and potentially even foster dialogues between historical adversaries such as Israelis and Iranians on noncontroversial issues.


While leaders have historically been skeptical about embracing a forum encompassing the entire region, a phased approach could be adopted. Beginning with a smaller group of key states, including those with existing relationships with both Israel and Iran, the MENA Forum could gradually expand its membership. This inclusive approach would enhance the forum's credibility and effectiveness over time.


Establishing a Middle East security forum requires political will at the highest levels. Announcing the initiative at a meeting of foreign ministers, possibly on the margins of an existing regional gathering, could provide the necessary momentum.

The involvement of neutral regional champions and support from middle powers in Asia and Europe would further strengthen the initiative. Limited roles for external powers, such as China, Russia, and the United States, would prevent the forum from becoming a platform for great-power competition.




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