Sara Hassan
11 June 2015

Oxford Research Group (ORG) in cooperation with the Regional Centre for Strategic Studies (RCSS) held a two-day workshop in Cairo on Conflict and Peacemaking in the Middle East in late May. The meeting was supported by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and is part of new work under the Middle East Programme which is focused on Egypt and understanding the view from the region. The project has been developed by Sara Hassan.

The first session of the workshop focused on an exercise which mapped the complex nature of the conflicts that have emerged in the region post the Arab Spring. The session was led by Dr Mohamed Ezz el Arab, Head of the Domestic Transformations Unit at RCSS, and was chaired by Counsellor Hatem el Tahawy, the Deputy Director of the Cairo Centre for Conflict Resolution and Peacekeeping in Africa, an institute affiliated with Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 

The second session focused on Syria and was led by Abdel Halim Mahgoub who was previously with the National Defence Council and Dr Mohamed Megahed al Zayat, the RCSS’s Academic Advisor for Regional Affairs. As part of the session Gabrielle Rifkind, Director of ORG’s Middle East Programme gave a talk on the psychological approach, humanizing geopolitics, while ORG Consultant Professor Oliver Ramsbotham spoke of the links between strategic thinking and conflict resolution.  

Subsequent sessions discussed three active conflicts of particular concern to Egypt: Libya, Yemen and Syria. The third session on Libya was chaired by Former Egyptian Ambassador in Libya Hany Khallaf. The fourth session on the conflict in Yemen was chaired by Egypt’s current ambassador to Yemen Yousef al-Sharkawy with Nita Yawanarajah of the Commonwealth Secretariat discussing the politics of ceasefire mediation and Dr Hamood al Kadmi, a counsellor at the Yemeni embassy in Cairo, discussing the emerging trends in the conflict.

The fifth session discussed the role of regional and international organisations in mediating conflict. The discussion was chaired by Mohamed Abd-Alaal professor of Political Science at Cairo University with presentations by Ambassador Zeid al-Sabban, who discussed the Arab League’s role in resolving conflict, and Nita Yawanarajah who discussed strengths and weaknesses of international and regional organisation’s approaches on conflict mediation.


Image Credit: Regional Centre for Strategic Studies (RCSS).