The arch of crisis stretching across the Middle East and North Africa continues to be characterized by unsolved wars. In Libya, for instance, the recent military offensive by General Khalifa Haftar has further fueled the competition between the two opposing factions, thus hindering any prospects for national reconciliation. In Syria, although the war appears to be approaching its final stages, violence and institutional vacuum remain the norm. To complicate the picture even further, in different MENA crises regional and external players such as Iran, Turkey, the Arab Gulf monarchies, but also the United States and the Russian Federation, are used to back different actors according to their own interests, often ending up with exacerbating internal struggles within specific contexts of crisis. Today, external influences and internal decisions seem irreversibly intertwined, something which might represent an obstacle on the path from military to political solution of the MENA crises.
ISPI, together with the Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC), convened a closed-door meeting in the Russian capital in which international experts from think tanks and universities discussed the role of international and regional actors in two major unresolved crises of the Middle East: Libya and Syria. Further attention was also paid to the interplay between international players and local ones, in order to identify future geopolitical trends and evaluate possible policy options available to the parties involved.