Between Shifting Sovereignties and Shifty Actors: Quo Vadis for the Middle East?

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A lecture by Ambassador Efraim Halevy, former Director of Mossad, the Israeli Intelligence Service.Ambassador Efraim Halevy

Ambassador Halevy examines key changes in the Middle East in the wake of the Arab Spring, focusing on those ‘ungoverned spaces’ where national sovereignty is conspicuous by its absence, for example in the Sinai peninsula, south Lebanon, much of Syria and Libya, as well as increasingly large tracts of Iraq. He reflects on the security and political consequences flowing from this phenomenon and assess the impact of upgraded military material flowing into war zones, primarily from Russia and its regional surrogates.

In light of these developments, Ambassador Halevy will offer some tentative thoughts as to the future trajectory of unresolved internal conflicts in such places as Syria and Iraq. He will focus on the impact that the politics of personality is having on shaping the contours of power across the region, with reference to the relationships between key individuals such as Grand Ayatollah Khomeini and President Rouhani, Field Marshal Sisi and King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, and Prime Minister Netanyahu and Abu Mazen.

Ambassador Halevy concludes his remarks by considering the extent to which the presence of radical Sunni Jihadi groups in Lebanon and Syria, now fighting together, pose a threat to Tehran’s regional ambitions. 

Ambassador Efraim Halevy was born in London in 1934 and emigrated to Israel with his family soon after the establishment of the state in 1948. In 1961, after studying law at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, he joined the Israeli Intelligence Service, Mossad, eventually rising to become its Director (1998-2002). He also served as Israel’s Ambassador to the EU (1996-1998) and the Head of Israel’s National Security Council (2002-2003). He is now Head of the Shasha Centre for Strategic Studies at the Hebrew University, Jerusalem and Chairman of the Israel Intelligence Heritage and Commemoration Centre. 

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