In collaboration with the Italian Institute for International Political Studies (ISPI) and the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, the Atlantic Council hosted a discussion on new strategic visions and power competition in the Middle East. The event was organized within the framework of the fifth edition of MED – Rome Mediterranean Dialogues, which will take place later this year in Rome.

The growing power of China and the renewed assertiveness of Russia seem to be a prelude to a new phase of depreciation of Western impact on the rest of the world, if not the opening of a great competition for the redistribution of power and international status. In the context of this global reassessment, the configuration of regional orders has come into question, illustrated by the current collapse of the Middle Eastern order. The idea of a “Russian resurgence'” in the Middle East set against an American withdrawal has captured the attention of policymakers and scholars alike, and warrants further examination of renewed power competition in the region. 

This important event also marked the release of a new collected volume, “The MENA Region: A Great Power Competition,” edited by Karim Mezran and Arturo Varvelli.

9:00 a.m. Introductory remarks

H.E. Armando Varricchio
Embassy of Italy to the United States

9:30 a.m. Update on current US strategy toward the region

Mr. David Schenker
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs
US Department of State

10:00 a.m. Transatlantic foreign policy in the MENA region

Dr. Haizam Amirah-Fernández
Senior Analyst
Elcano Royal Institute

Amb. Barbara Leaf
Senior Fellow
The Washington Institute

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

11:30 a.m. New policies for old actors: Russia, China, Iran, and Turkey

Dr. Jon Alterman
Director, Middle East Program
Center for Strategic and International Studies

Dr. Mark N. Katz
Nonresident Senior Fellow
Atlantic Council

Dr. Aniseh Bassiri Tabrizi
Research Fellow
Royal United Services Institute

Dr. Gönül Tol
Director, Center for Turkish Studies
Middle East Institute

1:00 p.m. Lunch Served

1:20 – 2:30 p.m. Keynote Address: A new strategic vision for the United States

Gen. Joseph Votel
Former Commander
US Central Command (CENTCOM)


Dr. Karim Mezran
Senior Fellow, Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East
Atlantic Council

Dr. Arturo Varvelli
Senior Research Fellow and Co-Head, Middle East and North Africa Center