Recent geopolitical shifts in the Middle East and North Africa have made way for greater destabilizing intervention from emerging regional hegemons and foreign forces. Amid a perceived American pivot from the region, China is increasing its influence by signing key trade agreements with over 18 Middle Eastern states, including collaboration on infrastructure development, technical assistance, cultural partnerships, and trade facilitation. Russia is also attempting to increase its influence by deploying the Russian Wagner paramilitary group, sanctioned by the United States and European Union, which has arguably hindered the political process in Libya, Sudan, and the Sahel. Additionally, Russia’s war in Ukraine is impacting the region by driving up inflation, specifically in the cost of necessities like grains and bread. Amid Russia’s war on Ukraine, a new era of transatlantic cooperation could provide greater opportunities for transatlantic partners to diversify energy imports and increase cooperation to address shared concerns in the Middle East and North Africa. The stability of the region is integral to the security of the transatlantic community, and vice versa.

How can the transatlantic alliance, and specifically the US-Italian partnership, counter Russia and China’s increasing presence and engagement in the Middle East and North Africa? What does this great power rivalry mean for the region’s future? What role can transatlantic allies play in promoting stability and security in the region?

Please join the Atlantic Council for an engaging virtual and in-person discussion at the Centro Studi Americani headquarters in Rome in partnership with the US Embassy in Rome to address these and other questions on Tuesday, June 7, 2022, from 12:00-2:00 p.m. EST/6:00-8:00 p.m. CET.


Welcome & introductory remarks

William Wechsler
Senior Director, Rafik Hariri Center & Middle East Programs
Atlantic Council

Thomas Smitham
Chargé’ d’Affaires
US Embassy Rome

Ferdinando Salleo
Former Ambassador of Italy to the United States

Keynote speaker

Yael Lempert
Acting Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs
US Department of State

Panel discussion

Valeria Talbot
Co-head of the Middle East and North Africa Centre
Institute for International Political Studies

Khemaies Jhinaoui
Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Tunisia; Founder
Tunisian Council for International Relations  

Jonathan Fulton
Nonresident Senior Fellow
Atlantic Council

Dina Fakoussa-Behrens
Associate Fellow
German Council on Foreign Relations

Concluding remarks

Alfredo Conte
Deputy Director General for the Mediterranean and the Middle East
Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs


Karim Mezran
Resident Senior Fellow, Middle East Programs
Atlantic Council

Middle East Programs

Through our Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East and Scowcroft Middle East Security Initiative, the Atlantic Council works with allies and partners in Europe and the wider Middle East to protect US interests, build peace and security, and unlock the human potential of the region.