Geoffrey Kemp, senior director of the Center for the National Interest’s Regional Security Program, has hosted and facilitated the Middle East Updates at Chautauqua Institution since 1993. This year, Henri Barkey, Bernard L. and Bertha F. Cohen Professor at Lehigh University, will join him in delivering the first Middle East Update of the season.
The Middle East Update conversation will be held at 3:30 p.m. Monday, August 12 in the Hall of Philosophy. Kemp and Barkey’s discussion will be centered around leadership and conflicts in the Middle East and how these topics affect the United States.
“There is no real leader of the region anymore,” Barkey said. “The Egyptians obviously are in their own corner. There’s not a single leader in a single country that is essentially leading in the Middle East.”
Barkey said leadership conflicts in the Middle East, as well as wars and a lack of jobs, lead to the ongoing issues in the region.
“So you have a real mess, and none of the problems are being resolved; in fact, they’re getting a lot worse,” Barkey said. “Syria, Iraq, Iran and Yemen are the real big conflicts. So one way or another, you have conflicts beyond the United States.”
Barkey and Kemp have known one another for many years. Barkey said that he enjoys Kemp’s conversation style and is looking forward to sharing the stage with him once again.
“I’ve known Geoff now, I don’t know how many years, but he and I have shared the podium many times, and in fact, once already in Chautauqua,” Barkey said. “I think that it’s going to be a very conversational presentation, and I think we will go to the heart of some of these issues and not in a hardcore academic way, but a much more gentle way, which Geoff is so good at doing.”
Barkey’s area of expertise is Turkey, therefore the pair will be discussing the role that Turkey plays in the Middle East and its relationship with other countries.
The conversation will be interactive; Kemp said he likes to host the discussion in a way that makes it easy for people to understand and encourages the audience to ask questions or reach out for clarity.
“I will do some introductory comments and Henri will do most of the talking,” Kemp said. “The way we organize these meetings is that after I’ve introduced the overall theme and asked Henri some basic questions, he goes ahead and speaks, and I interrupt him with some follow-up questions. This goes on for about 25 minutes, and then we try to have at least 25 minutes for a Q-and-A.”
Kemp plans to address multiple issues that have arisen in the Middle East, such as ongoing wars, crises and challenges that countries all over the world are facing in the region.
“I will sort of recite the list of crises and dilemmas and challenges that the United States and the region of the world faces in the Middle East, and that will include reference to the ongoing civil wars in Yemen and Libya and the semi-resolved but still unpleasant war in Syria, the Iran crisis, the latest updates on what’s happening on the Arab-Israeli front,” Kemp said. “Because it is one of my favorite themes at Chautauqua, I will also mention the water crises that are emerging, particularly in the Middle East, and why this is a telling indicator of horrors to come if we don’t deal with global warming.”