On March 14 to 15, the Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution and the United States Central Command jointly convened for their annual conference on the Middle East. This year’s conference, “The Middle East 2017,” covered a range of issues relating to both near-term events and long-term trends in the region and for U.S. policy. Over the two days of discussion, the participants focused on the civil wars in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen that are fueling extremism, humanitarian crises, rising sectarianism, and the collapse of socio-political systems, as well as the likely courses of action for the critical competing regional and great powers, including Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Russia. The conference explored how best the United States can safeguard its interests and its allies in the face of these many challenges in the region.
The conference featured a range of experts from the United States government and military, academia, think tanks, and the region. The center was honored that General Joseph Votel, Commanding General, United States Central Command, was able to attend and participate for some of the conference. Together, the speakers and conference participants offered insights that went well beyond conventional Washington wisdom, peered into the future, and provided valuable lessons and ideas for the U.S. military and the broader policy community.
The proceedings from this conference include summaries of the sessions and an overarching essay by Kenneth M. Pollack.
For the past year, you've seen that perhaps no leverage that the US and the West thought it had — aid, sanctions, the freezing of Afghanistan's reserves — has really had an effect on Taliban behavior. The Taliban has essentially done what they had always done. The Afghan people have been in a humanitarian crisis because the Taliban hasn't budged.