Building Cooperation in the Eastern Middle East

Building Cooperation in the Eastern Middle East
A formal framework for communication and cooperation in the eastern Middle East could reduce the risks of conflict and encourage stability and economic development in this tense but critical location.
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As the United States withdraws its forces from Iraq, there will be competition for regional influence by states in the eastern Middle East, including Turkey, Iran, Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and the rest of the Gulf countries. A formal framework for communication and cooperation—similar to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe—could reduce the risks of conflict and encourage stability and economic development in this tense but critical location, according to a paper by Paul Salem. 

Key Conclusions:

  • There is already considerable interaction among Turkey, Iran, and a number of Arab countries, but if these relations are not organized along clear security and political parameters, misunderstanding can easily lead to increased tensions.
  • Regional concerns over Iran’s nuclear program will make progress on developing a framework difficult. 
  • It is in Washington’s interest to support a cooperative framework in the eastern Middle East. Reducing tensions in the neighborhood could encourage Tehran in the long run to pursue more moderate and less paranoid policies.
  • Other outside powers—most notably Europe, Russia, China, and India—should have an even stronger interest in progress toward sub-regional cooperation and stability. They oppose Iran acquiring nuclear weapons and any armed conflict in the region would interrupt energy flow.

“There are escalating tensions in the eastern Middle East today, but this is precisely why the region’s leaders should increase their communication and interaction,” writes Salem. “Even in the context of unresolved threats, working toward such a framework is possible and necessary. The Helsinki Process and the OSCE were launched during the Cold War to build trust and cooperation in the context of mistrust and mutually perceived threats.”

End of document

In Fact



of Brazilian protesters

learned about a massive rally via Facebook or Twitter.


million cases pending

in India’s judicial system.

1 in 3


now needs urgent assistance.


political parties

contested India’s last national elections.


of Egypt's labor force

works in the private sector.


years ago

Carnegie began an internship program. Notable alumni include Samantha Power.


of oil consumed in the United States

is for the transportation sector.


of Chechnya’s pre-1994 population

has fled to different parts of the world.


of oil consumed in China

was from foreign sources in 2012.


of Syria’s population

is expected to be displaced by the end of 2013.


million people killed

in Cold War conflicts.


of the U.S. economy

is consumed by healthcare.


billion in goods and services

traded between the United States and China in 2012.


billion in foreign investment and oil revenue

have been lost by Iran because of its nuclear program.


increase in China’s GDP per capita

between 1972 and today.


billion have been spent

to complete the Bushehr nuclear reactor in Iran.


of Iran’s electricity needs

is all the Bushehr nuclear reactor provides.


new airports

are set to be built in China by 2015.



were imprisoned in Turkey as of August 2012 according to the OSCE.


of the world's population

will reside in cities by 2050.


million Russian citizens

are considered “ethnic Muslims.”

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