A New Agenda? Debating the Middle East and Central Asia
Early Career Researcher Conference
CAIS graduate research scholars were congratulated by attendees of their conference held on 3 and 4 July. The conference - A New Agenda? Debating the Middle East and Central Asia brought together a number of young scholars presenting their high quality and contemporary research.
The opening address was given by Mr Ric Wells, Deputy Secretary, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (pictured left with Amin Saikal). Mr Wells stressed the importance of Australia's relationship with countries in the Middle East. He focused on recent events in the Middle East including the Arab Spring and the security challenges faced across the region.
The keynote speaker was Professor Shahram Akbarzadeh, ARC Future Fellow, Centre for Citizenship and Globalisation, Deakin University. His lecture was entitled: 'The Natural Order in the Middle East:Stumbling from one crisis to the next'. In this paper Prof. Akbarzadeh outlined the factors he believed had been at play as the hope of the Arab Spring turned to despair. The first factor he discussed was the nature of states in the region, the gap between the ruler and the ruled, and the absence of political and state legitimacy. The second factor focused on state rivalries, with Iran, Saudi Arabia and Turkey each trying to claim a leading role, and taking advantage of state weakness in their neighbourhood. And the third factor was the role the United States played in regional politics over the last two decades.
Conference speakers included: Dr Farhang Morady, University of Westminster presenting on Iran–US relations and the Nuclear Framework Agreement; Haian Dukhan, University of St Andrews, presenting on Hafez al-Assad and the Arab tribes in Syria; Natalya Hillme, Humboldt University, presenting on regime stability in Central Asia'; Azamjon Isabaev, University of Hamburg discussed security in Central Asia and Harout Akdedian, University of Armidale presented his research on Islamic Radicalization in Syria.
CAIS scholars Shuhrat Baratov, Jessie Moritz, Dirk van der Kley and Elisabeth Yarbakhsh also presented papers on their research.
The conference attracted a substantial audience which included policy-makers from the Department of Defence and DFAT as well as scholars from Australian universities and think-tanks.