New year, new direction in the Middle East?

New year, new direction in the Middle East?

Can we expect 2012 to be as monumentally eventful in the Middle East as 2011? Perhaps even more so.

Autocrats have been deposed, killed, put on trial or have been hospitalised. Some of those that remain are under intense scrutiny and pressure - either from revolutionaries, the international community or both. Stability is a word that has been forcibly torn from the region's dictionary.

The indigenous Christian communities across the whole region continue to face challenges and uncertainties. Just two weeks ago, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, His Beatitude Fouad Twal, played host to an international meeting of bishops from North America and Europe in the Holy Land organised by the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales.

In my latest podcast for the Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales I survey the scene and take a look at the elections in Egypt, where religion meets politics.

With an overwhelming Islamist feel to the results, what does this mean for the Coptic Christians in the country? Has the inter-religious solidarity of downtown Cairo, Tahrir Square, been replaced by flashpoints of conflict?

Also, as has been the case for almost a year, it is impossible to analyse the situation in the Middle East without looking at Syria. The interview discusses the withdrawal of the Arab League's monitors and the escalation of violence in the face of a stand-off. Where do we go next in Syria?

The podcast concludes by reflecting on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, its imperatives and choices.

The full podcast can be listened to and downloaded here: http://www.catholicnews.org.uk/mena-16

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© Harry Hagopian is an international lawyer, ecumenist and EU political consultant. He also acts as a Middle East and inter-faith advisor to the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England & Wales and as Middle East consultant to ACEP (Christians in Politics) in Paris. He is an Ekklesia associate and regular contributor (http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/HarryHagopian). Formerly an Executive Secretary of the Jerusalem Inter-Church Committee and Executive Director of the Middle East Council of Churches, he is now an international fellow, Sorbonne III University, Paris, consultant to the Campaign for Recognition of the Armenian Genocide (UK) and author of The Armenian Church in the Holy Land. Dr Hagopian’s own website is www.epektasis.net

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