It wasn’t all about Syria in the Q&A at the end of the First Plenary Session – but it certainly led the discussion. Senator John McCain was critical was critical of US inaction: ‘In Syria … everything that people said would happen if we did not intervene has now happened because we have not intervened,’ he said. Fellow panellist Charles Ruppersberger, on the other hand, was optimistic about the role Russia could play not only in Syria but also in negotiations with Iran. ‘Sometimes negatives turn into positives and I think this relationship that we can work with Russia will help us,’ he said.
Participants also spoke about various wider regional and geopolitical risks generated by the Syrian conflict. The discussion provided a remarkable insight into the current situation and of US thinking on the processes taking place in the Middle East.
Energy issues were not forgotten. David Butters of Chatham House provocatively asking the panel: ‘How long are the American people prepared to continue to bankroll the security of Chinese oil supplies?’
Read the first part of Alexander Vysotsky’s account of the session: Day 1 at Manama: view from the floor