Two years after the start of the Arab uprisings, the Middle East remains as tumultuous as ever. Despite the uncertainty and flux, a number of emerging trends will influence the region in the post-revolutionary period and well into the future.The first trend is a marked uptick in sectarianism and sectarian violence. The second trend is a crisis within political Islam and a widening rift between secular and Islamist political forces. And the third trend is the gradual disengagement and declining influence of the US in the Middle East.
This paper, by Lydia Khalil, looks at the road to revolution, the polarised politics of Islamists vs secularists, and sectarianism’s grip in the region. The events in Egypt and Syria illustrate the difficulties faced by policymakers around the world—options for intervention are limited. However, the international community continues to look for ways to encourage stability. Australia's role is considered including its role on the United Nations Security Council, particularly when it comes to the Syrian crisis and dealing with Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Australia should do what it can to assist this desperate humanitarian situation and bolster the norm against chemical weapons use. It’s important to do so, not only as a reflection of Australian values, but also because Australia’s actions and involvements on the international stage in relation to Syria will also have an impact at home.