Every year, the IISS invites nominees from the next generation of strategists to attend the Manama Dialogue as part of its ‘Young Strategists Programme’. Here, one of this year’s Young Strategists – Alexander Vysotsky, Senior Secretary in the Office of the Mayor of Moscow – reflects on his highlight from Saturday in Manama:
‘I’m in the process of preparing a PhD thesis on Democratisation as an element of the US policy in the Middle East in 2001-2008, so I was especially looking forward to Saturday’s Plenary Session on “The US and the Region”.’
Taking part in the session were Deputy Secretary of State Bill Burns, former presidential candidate John McCain and Charles ‘Dutch’ Ruppersberger, who is the senior Democrat member of the US House of Representatives Intelligence Committee.
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Mustafa Sabbagh, the secretary-general of the recently formed Syrian National Coalition, will take part in a special session on Syria that opens the 8th IISS Regional Security Summit tonight. He will be joined by Mike Rogers, the chairman of the US House Committee on Intelligence, Naci Koru, the Turkish deputy foreign minister, and Wu Sike, the Chinese special envoy to the Middle East.
On Saturday morning, US Deputy Secretary of State William Burns and Senator John McCain will debate the US role in the Middle East. Other speakers announced today include British Foreign Secretary William Hague, former Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd and ministers from Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
Senior military and security officials from the US, France and India will join colleagues from the region for sessions on security in the Strait of Hormuz, Syria and regional security and counter-terrorism on Sunday.
By Alexa van Sickle, Assistant Editor
As the presidential campaigns take centre stage, in Washington the conventional wisdom on preventing $1.2 trillion automatic across-the-board cuts (‘sequestration’) is that Congress and the White House will strike a deal on an alternative debt-reduction plan in the so-called ‘lame duck’ legislative session – after the election and before the new year. But as the deadline approaches, this no longer looks like a certainty.
With half of the impending cuts slated for the defense budget, the US defense industry is feeling the tension. In July, Lockheed Martin CEO Robert J. Stevens testified before Congress that ‘the very prospect of sequestration is already having a chilling effect on the industry’. According to a Bloomberg Government report, Lockheed Martin, Boeing and General Dynamics spent $10.3 million on lobbying and spreading awareness on the possible effects of sequestration in the first quarter of 2012.