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Manama Dialogue 2020: In wake of peace deal, Israel's participation increases

The Manama Dialogue conference in Bahrain began on December 4 and lasts through Sunday, December 6. The IISS Manama Dialogue is a "unique forum for government ministers, as well as members of the expert, opinion-forming and business communities, to debate the Middle East’s most pressing security challenges," organizers say.

The officials speaking virtually include Israel’s Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi, for the first time, the conference website said. The conference comes in the wake of the Abraham Accords. In the past the event has signaled support for more openness to Israel, especially after Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu flew to Oman in 2018. Bahrain played a key role in the Trump administration's push for economic incentives for peace.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo opened Bahrain’s premier security summit in a virtual address, GDN Online notes. "The 16th International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) Regional Security Summit: The Manama Dialogue 2020 will be held from today until Sunday at the Ritz-Carlton Bahrain." See the video.

It took place at the Ritz Carlton, which recently partnered with the OU to offer kosher cuisine. Read our interview about how the hotel made the decision. On Saturday Oman's Foreign Minister noted "We truly believe in the GCC and its structure; I am hopeful that we can have a GCC summit and start a new chapter in its history. To build confidence, we need a critical dialogue about issues upon which we disagree." GDN Online also reported the the JCPA's Dore Gold was be at the event. It marks the first public high profile attendance by Israelis at this event and comes in the wake of the peace deal.

The International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) organizes the event every year. Read the list of participants: The opening virtual address will be delivered by the US Secretary of State, Michael R. Pompeo. The President of the International Committee of the Red Cross, Peter Maurer, will deliver the keynote speech. Ministers and senior government officials who will gather in Bahrain over the weekend to make policy statements and to engage in multilateral and bilateral meetings will include: the Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs, HH Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud, the South Korean Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr Kang Kyung-wha, Bahrain’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani, Iraq’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Fouad Hussain, Oman’s Foreign Minister Sayyid Badr Al Busaidi, Jordan’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates, Ayman Safadi, the State Secretary of the German Federal Office Miguel Berger, the UK Chief of the Defence Staff General Nick Carter, the Governor of the Saudi General Authority for Military Industries Ahmed Al Ohali, the GCC’s Secretary General Dr Nayef Al Hajraf and Afghanistan’s National Security Advisor Dr Hamdullah Mohib. The officials speaking virtually include Israel’s Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi, Canada’s Minister of Defence Harjit Sajjan and China’s Special Envoy for the Middle East Ambassador Zhai Jun.

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