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Foreign Affairs publishes written evidence on Middle East and North Africa

18 December 2023

The Foreign Affairs Committee is today (Monday 18 December) publishing written evidence received for its inquiry into the UK’s engagement with the Middle East and North Africa.  

This evidence includes a submission from the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) on its approach to the countries in the region. 

The FCDO calls for a “a political solution to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict: a two-state solution, which provides justice and security for both Israelis and Palestinians”. The Department says it wants to see “both Israelis and Palestinians safe and secure, not living in the fear of terrorism, and in peaceful proximity.”    

The Department says it has “thickened and broadened our defence cooperation with key allies particularly with Israel and the Gulf, in recent years”. 

It says that “this has been focused on regional security, defence collaboration and countering extremism as well as specific issues such as Royal Navy vessels intercepting weapons shipments destined for the Houthis in Yemen”.  

The Committee has also published evidence from a range of organisations and individuals, including:   

  • National Council of Resistance of Iran  
  • The British Council  
  • Redress  
  • Jewish Leadership Council  
  • International Centre of Justice for Palestinians   
  • Amnesty   
  • BBC World Service  
  • Alliance for Middle East Peace   
  • Professor Anoush Ehteshami, Durham University   
  • European Leadership Network UK   
  • Professor Chris Phillips, Queen Mary University of London and Michael Stephens, Royal United Services Institute    

According to the Alliance for Middle East Peace, the “UK could lead in convening donors and allies to discuss civil society peacebuilding at Ministerial level”. The evidence says that the UK can draw upon “its unmatched expertise in the Middle East and conflict resolution in Northern Ireland, as well as its diplomatic strengths as a key convener”. 

The European Leadership Network UK states that “many countries across this region are concerned by perceived American drift away from the Middle East and the fear of being left alone to fight Iran”. The evidence says that “the UK must coordinate actions and messages with its European and American allies... to prevent these countries from turning to Russia or China to fill a perceived void”.  

Meanwhile, Professor Anoush Ehteshami highlights the region’s “profound food insecurity”, saying that “a regime that cannot even feed its own people is dangerously exposed”.  

Academics Christopher Phillips and Michael Stevens say that the UK needs to be “more realistic and less ambitious in its engagement with the Middle East... a recognition of its limited capacity and to be more selective”.  

Further information

Image: FCO