Manama: The Manama Dialogue, a major international security conference, will this year be held on October 30–November 1 in the Bahraini capital.

The latest developments in the region, particularly Iran’s nuclear programme, the fight against terrorism, and the situation in Yemen are expected to be among the top issues to be discussed at the annual gathering.

“In 2015 the Middle East is going through a period of extraordinary strategic unease,” Dr John Chipman, Director-General and CEO of the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), the co-organisers alongside Bahrain’s foreign ministry, said. “The need for a strategic rather than tactical approach to the many conflicts affecting the region has never been greater. The Manama Dialogue 2015 will offer a unique opportunity for foreign and defence ministers from the Middle East and outside to confer on the major challenges of the day. These include the implementation of the E3 plus 3 nuclear agreement with Iran, the efforts to contain and defeat Daesh and the conflict in Yemen. ‘The IISS expects new policy initiatives to be tested and launched at the Manama Dialogue, which will again attract both leading policymakers from around the world and the best strategic analysts on the region,” he said.

The IISS Manama Dialogue, now in its 11th year, is an inter-governmental summit at which national-security leaders from the Gulf, the Middle East, North America, Europe and Asia consult bilaterally and multilaterally on key security and foreign-policy challenges.

The international gathering will also convene analysts, business leaders, senior government officials and prominent members of the media to ensure open and transparent discussions.

At the 10th Manama Dialogue last year, Bahrain’s Crown Prince Salman Bin Hamad Al Khalifa said the international community was fighting not only terrorists, but also theocrats.

“Our war on terror is a little bit older than ten years, but not by much,” he said. “I think the time has come for us to get rid of that name. It is a bit misleading; it is not the entirety and the totality of our conflict, or of our strategic direction or threats. Terrorism is merely the tool that is used by people. If I think back in the last century, we faced a very different foe; we faced communism and we faced it together. But when we faced communism, we understood it as an ideology. Terrorism is not an ideology.”

Prince Salman said if the international community appreciated it was in a war with theocrats, it could then start to put together the military, social, political and maybe even economic policies in a holistic manner to counter this threat, as it did with communism.

“We will be fighting these theocrats for a very long time; of that, I have no doubt. The question is, do we have the courage and the moral and intellectual integrity to call them out for what they are? These are people who try to govern us here on earth and in the hereafter. These are people who isolate themselves from the rest of the international community. These are people who disregard human life and do not value the social order and the social contracts that we have established among ourselves, in societies and peoples. These are people who oppress women, and these are people who slaughter anyone who does not condone, approve of or subscribe to their own twisted ideology,” he said.

“While politics may drag people into ideology, it is the ideology itself that must be combated. It must be named, it must be shamed, and it must be contained. Eventually, it must be defeated, and we must use all resources to hold accountable those who place themselves above other ordinary human beings and claim they have a divine right to rule. I think, instead of entering into debates about certain political parties, whether they are Islamist or not, faith can certainly be part of any political platform. But what we cannot have is a man, an individual, placed at the top of an ideology, who has the power by religious edict to strip someone of their hereafter and use that for political gains. It sounds very much like the seventeenth century to me, and ladies and gentlemen, the seventeenth century has no place in our modern twenty-first century.”