Analysis and debate at the Frontline Club : making sense of the Middle East

Our discussion on Tuesday looking at Realignment in the Arab World – and what it means for Iran, Saudi Arabia and Israel, is the latest in a series of events this year which have sought to explain and analyse events in the Middle East and North Africa since the governments of Tunisia and Egypt were toppled at the beginning of the year.

Here’s run-through of the events so far this year during which we have examined the seismic events in the region, with links to blogposts, video and podcasts:

Beginning with our First Wednesday discussion on 2 February, we had planned to look at The Tunisian Domino effect and the Middle East but in response to fast-moving events in Egypt, the focus of the event was largely the protests in Cairo.

Later in the month we discussed the Changing Nature of Protest and whether the mainstream media ‘got’ it.  Chaired by Steve Crawshaw, author and international advocacy director for Amnesty International, the 15 February discussion focused on the role of social media in modern uprisings and how the mainstream media  is responding to the use of social media in facilitating and reporting people movements.

The following night we held a First Wednesday special, which asked the question What now for Egypt and its neighbours in the Middle East?  The event was an opportunity to ask questions and discuss what might lie ahead for both Egypt an its neighbours after President Hosni Mubarak stepped down on 11 February. Author and activist Ahdaf Soueif contributed via Skype and visited the Club at the end of March.

At our March First Wednesday in March we billed it as a look at People, Protest and Democracy in the Middle East and North Africa but events in Libya took precedence and the discussion focused largely on what the future held for the country.

Later in the month, our special external event at the Royal Institution of Great Britain brought together some of the key digital activists in the Egyptian protests to discuss Protest, Technology and the End of Fear. There are interviews with Salma Said, Louis Lewarne, Khalid Abdalla and Omar Robert Hamilton on the Forum blog.

In April, our First Wednesday event focused on the question of foreign policy, diplomacy and the new world order – can the West be trusted to support democracy in the Middle East and North Africa?

The following week we looked at the future of Arab state-sponsored media and addressed the question of whehter it could recover from a crisis of credibility as well as at the impact of channels such as Al Jazeera and BBC Arabic.