Peace in the Middle East:
Actors, Problems, and Quest for Peace
With support from Hasan Kalyoncu University Middle East Research Center
Gaziantep, December 19-20, 2014
Purpose of the Symposium:
The Middle East has experienced developments with regional and global implications in the latest decade, such as the 9-11 attacks, the peoples’ uprisings in the Arab Middle East, the ongoing Syrian civil war, the re-emergence of the religious terrorism, the so-called IS (Islamic State), and finally the exacerbation of the sectarian and ethnic conflicts. These developments impacted the local, regional, and global communities in many ways and at different levels. Locally, these developments have caused internal and international conflicts, such as the American occupation of Iraq, the ongoing Syrian civil war, and the military coup d'état in Egypt. The results have been deaths, mass-immigration, and destruction of historical cities, radicalization, terrorism, and the exacerbation of the ethnic and sectarian problems. In this regard, these developments resulted in severe political, economic, humanitarian crisis. What is worse is that the aforementioned problems did not remain in their origin countries, the crisis in the Middle East started to engulf the surrounding countries as well. This has signalled that the developments in the Middle East will have implications far beyond the region. In this regard, we need international collaboration between governments, international organizations, universities, and civil society organizations to develop an effective response, initially to reduce the conflicts, and then to settle them.
The shared geography, culture, history, and most importantly, the shared threat factors, such as ethnic and sectarian issues, increase the sensitivity of Turkey in the region. In addition, before the people’s uprisings in the Arab Middle East, Turkey had developed substantial economic and political ties with the countries in the region. Therefore, the waves of change and the internal conflicts in the Middle Eastern countries have threatened both Turkey’s security and economic interest. As a result, Turkey has been compelled to intervene in the developments in the Middle East to protect these interests. For example, United Nation’s statistics indicate that the number of Syrian refugees crossing the Turkish border already exceeded 1.6 million. Considering that a large amount of non-registered Syrian refugees cross the borders illegally, it is safe to claim that Turkey host to an estimated over 2 million Syrian refugees in Turkey at the present. In this respect, Turkey experiences all the troubles, such as increasing crime rates and prices and ethnic and sectarian tensions, related to the ongoing crisis in its Southern neighbours first hand. Therefore, the resolution of recent conflicts in the Middle East is crucial first of all for Turkey’s national security and its economy. Not to mention the interests of the people of the countries undergoing these crisis.
Our goal as Hasan Kalyoncu University Middle East Research Center is to bring a select group of scholars, politicians, activists, and civil society representatives with international recognition to discuss the root causes of the chaos in the Middle East and make suggestions to policymakers, CSOs, and international organizations about what needs to be done for the settlement of the conflicts. We believe that although the ongoing political turmoil impact locals of the countries undergoing these crises the most, these developments have necessarily had regional and global implications. Therefore, it is in all of ours’ best interests to come together and search for solutions for the settlement of these conflicts. Consequently, we kindly invite you to give a shoulder to these efforts by participating in our symposium, “Peace in the Middle East: Actors, Problems, and Quest for Peace.”
The symposium will be held in Gaziantep, a historical Southeastern Turkish city established on the Silk Road. Stability, economic development, and its strategic location turn Gaziantep into a center of attraction for the local and international actors interested in countries, such as Iraq and Syria. Gaziantep has transformed into a center of operation for international organizations, such as Mercy Corp and Norwegian People's Aid, which are interested in the Syrian crisis. UN has also opened an office in Gaziantep to control their efforts on Syria from this city. Gaziantep has progressively being transformed into a major hub for international scholarly symposiums, conferences, and panels related to the crisis in the ME. Furthermore, the existence of over 400 thousand Syrian in Gaziantep makes it a crucial laboratory for research and humanitarian relief efforts related to them.
The participants of this Symposium include a diverse set of individuals including well-known politicians, journalists, civil society representatives, and internationally recognized academics are among our participants.