4 October 2018 - 9:30 to 11:15

Istanbul, Turkey

Moderator: Imran Garda, TRT World Presenter

Keynote: Fouad Siniora, Former Prime Minister of Lebanon


Former Lebanese Prime Minister, Fouad Siniora, participated at the 2018 TRT World Forum where he gave a keynote speech about envisioning peace and security in a fragmented world. He mentioned that the world is suffering from a serious phenomenon, known as the trust deficit disorder, such as trust in national and international institutions, trust among states and trust in the rule based global order. Furthermore, he continued to emphasise that people are also losing faith in political establishments where polarisation is on the rise and populism is on the march.

Mr. Siniora described the present world as undergoing a period of transition towards a new global order, or disorder. He linked the destabilisation of the Middle East to the U.S. invasion of Iraq and the dismantling of the Iraqi army. According to Mr. Siniora, the repercussions of the Arab Spring led the Middle East to fall into disarray, and ultimately to a greater interference from the main world players, which is well demonstrated with Russia’s involvement in Syria. Meanwhile, regional players, like Iran and Israel, chose war and violence over peace and did so through direct and indirect interventions, and by that further complicating the political, social and economic problems in the region. Mr. Siniora asserted that the oppression and injustice that have been exerted on millions of innocent individuals in many countries of this region by decades of authoritarianism and authoritarian regimes have led to further marginalisation and turbulences. Unless effective and sustainable reform is not promoted and free, democratic and representative regimes are not established, then the Arab world would continue to deteriorate into further conflict.

Mr. Siniora also mentioned that the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and parts of Syria and Lebanon is creating injustice and instability in the Middle East. He added that the most threatening crisis of modern history is the unresolved Palestinian issue for it remains an important key to unlocking many problems in the Middle East. The Israeli regime continues to inflict on the Palestinians the most merciless displacement policies in an effort to force them out of their hometowns. Mr. Siniora condemned the U.S. decision to relocate their embassy to Jerusalem and their support of laws on the Jewishness of the Israeli state.

Nevertheless, over the past decades, the Arab states have failed to deal with their socio-economic and political issues. These problems have been left simmering for a long time, allowing for a growing interference in the region, most notably by Iran who has been fuelling sectarian rifts in the region, especially in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen and partly in Lebanon. Hence giving the other regional powers and especially Iran and Israel a growing role in fostering the increased destabilisation in the region. All this has been taking place at the time when many Arab governments and leaders are held responsible for mishandling their ethnic and religiously-diverse populations.

The conflicts in the Middle East have mounting negative and damaging effects not only on the region but beyond it as well, which is fuelled by significant waves of migrations towards Europe and elsewhere. Mr. Siniora emphasised that these conflicts in the Middle East have also had a considerable economic impact on neighbouring countries like Turkey and Iran.

He reiterated that the Arab League has to take an initiative supported by the major Arab countries, such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia, to try and fill the Arab void by employing their potentials and capacities to achieve Arab reconciliation. This is essential in order to bring regional reconciliations, starting with neighbouring countries like Turkey, which represents a strategic, political, cultural and economic prospect for the Arab region.

Speaking of Syria, Libya and Yemen, Mr. Siniora stressed that reconstruction requires stability and unity, with the premise of conventional political solutions and national reconciliation that puts an end to foreign interventions. He ended his speech by stating that the Arab world is in urgent need of new approaches that equally promote human development and education. This should happen simultaneously with the promotion and establishment of the civil state that respects human rights and human dignity.