Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Ninth Annual U.S. Mideast Policymakers Conference

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Ninth Annual U.S. Mideast Policymakers Conference

Article excerpt

NINTH ANNUAL U.S. MIDEAST POLICYMAKERS CONFERENCE

For the ninth consecutive year, the Virginia Military Institute (VMI) at Lexington was the site of the U.S. Mideast Policymakers Conference, sponsored jointly by the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations (NCUSAR) and the U.S.-GCC Corporate Cooperation Committee, as well as corporate sponsors Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Bryan Cave, General Dynamics, Northrop Grumman, Parsons, and SAIC. The 100 or so participants from about a dozen countries included government, academic, and business officials and representatives. This year the theme of the conference, held Sept. 9 to 11, was "Globalization and Regional Realities in the Middle East: Issues, Interests, and Implications."

Once again, VMI, located in Virginia's beautiful Shenandoah Valley, spared no effort to assure the success of the conference. Several VMI faculty members and cadets participated in many of the functions and substantive sessions. At the conference's conclusion, the entire 1,200-strong Corps of Cadets, including the VMI band and bagpipers, performed a full-dress parade and retreat in honor of the conference attendees.

Keynote speakers at the opening dinner were Omani Minister of Information H.E. Abdulaziz bin Mohammad Al-Rowas, and U.S. Ambassador-nominee to Bahrain H.E. Ronald E. Neumann. The closing luncheon keynote speaker was Gen. Tommy Franks, the recently appointed commander-in-chief of the U.S. Central Command.

Minister Al-Rowas said that globalization implies the need for greater cooperation, and he emphasized that the Qur'an calls for cooperation, mutual recognition, and tolerance. Both Neumann and Franks made the point that, even as some of the current problems and issues in the Middle East become resolved over time, some will remain and other, new issues and problems will arise. Neumann expressed his concern, however, about how Washington's attention and resources will be affected when the Middle East peace process finally succeeds, Iraq begins to change once Saddam Hussain leaves the scene, and Iran continues its process of reform. …

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