Nunn School Holds Panel on Middle East

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On September 16, 2014, the Center for International Strategy, Technology, and Policy presented a panel discussion titled “Is the Middle East Burning.” This panel discussion focused on regional turmoil in the wake of the Arab Spring, with emphasis on the 2014 conflict in Gaza, the rise of the Islamic State (ISIS), and the condition of statehood and borders in the contemporary Middle East. Discussants included Assistant Professor Lawrence Rubin, Associate Professor Mikulas Fabry, and Assistant Professor Jenna Jordan, all of the Sam Nunn School of International Affairs. The panel was moderated by Nunn School Associate Professor Adam Stulberg.

Professor Rubin scoped out the security dynamics of the Middle East. He highlighted the need to view the region’s politics through a regional lens rather than through the lens of U.S. interests. He went on to describe the Middle East’s varied rivalries and alliances as a tangled, heavily interconnected nexus of interests, and reminded the audience that what happens in theaters like Palestine or Cairo has implications for the rest of the region.

Professor Jordan discussed the rise of ISIS. She described how the group evolved from the chaos of the Iraq and Syrian wars, its severance from al Qaeda, and its impressive territorial gains in 2014. She also provided insights on ISIS’s makeup, strategy, and the motivations of its members.

Professor Fabry spoke about the condition of statehood and international borders in the contemporary Middle East. Focusing on liminal states like Kurdistan, Palestine, and the Islamic State, he argued that the Middle East’s statehood challenges are not a function of artificially-drawn boundaries in countries like Iraq, as a theory commonly used to explain the region’s varied conflicts dictates. Instead, Professor Fabry argued, the issue stems from the Middle East’s inability to establish broadly representative central governments.

These panelist remarks were followed up by an extensive Q.A. session. Audience engagement was keen, with the event continuing almost an hour past the scheduled end time.

The event drew an impressive crowd of approximately one hundred twenty people, consisting of students, faculty, and community members. 


  • Workflow Status: Published
  • Created By: Jenilee Trew
  • Created: 10/29/2014
  • Modified By: Fletcher Moore
  • Modified: 10/07/2016

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