A Review of Ditchley Conferences on the Modern Middle East: From the Six Day War until the War on Terror

by A. D. Aaba Atach

This review has been written by A. D. Aaba Atach. She is a Clarendon Scholar at the University of Oxford, reading Asian and Middle Eastern Studies and researching digital anthropology of the region.

References: the month and date cited in brackets throughout the text refers to the month and year of Ditchley conference referenced. The full list of referenced conferences is given at the end of this review.  It should also be noted that the Director’s Notes are the personal reflections of the various Ditchley Directors and explicitly do not commit conference participants to their content or expression.


The Middle East is unquestionably one of the most discussed regions in the history of the Ditchley conferences, with appoximately 100 discussions since 1962 that either directly address issues or topics that concern the region. This paper focuses on a handful of relevant conferences between 1967 until 2001.

Few issues have been considered more significant to the Anglo-American foreign policymakers than the Arab-Israeli dispute since the mid-20th century, which is what this review primarily concentrates on. It also briefly touches upon the critical but divisive decision to initiate the United States’ global military campaign against terrorism following the September 11 attacks, better known as the War on Terror. There have been a number of other urgent disputes and upheavals, posing threats to Western national security or national interest, such as the 1979 Iranian Revolution and the 1991 Gulf War. However, it is not within the scope of this review to delve into those events in detail. The present study should be regarded as a glimpse into much larger conversations that have taken place at Ditchley conferences about the Middle East, influenced by ongoing domestic and foreign political events, public opinion and morale, as well as economic and financial priorities that exist with each institution and country that has participated in these events.


When in the late 1950s Sir David H. Wills offered Ditchley Park as a permanent centre for discussions and meetings that were to further Anglo-American collaboration and understanding, the first suggested yearly programme proposed that Ditchley begin operations by discussing British and American policies in the Middle East (this conference then materialised a few years later in 1964). There were good reasons for this: the Second World War had been a significant turning point for the British Empire, and nowhere was this more evident than in the Middle East.

Whether it was the 1956 Suez Crisis, the 1958 Iraqi revolution that noticeably undermined Great Britain’s strategy in the Middle East (which had until then concentrated on Iraq), or the increasing rivalry between the United States and the Soviet Union over access to resources and strategic positions in the region, British presence in the Middle East had arguably never been so visible up until then.

As the geopolitical and economic realities rapidly changed in the second half of the 20th century, British policymakers wanted to maintain Britain’s political and commercial interests in the Arab world. Ditchley’s discussions reflect the challenges that came to exist in the context of the Cold War, deteriorating Arab-Israeli relations, as well as the critical economic importance of regional oil supplies for Western countries.

It should be noted that the evolution of thought and approach toward the Middle East at Ditchley has been recognisable. For example, in June of 1973, five months before the crucial 1973 Arab-Israeli War (also known as the Yom Kippur War), Ditchley hosted a conference titled “Choices for Europe and America: The Middle East and the Energy Situation 1973-1985”. Despite the fact that this conference was sponsored by four well-known institutions and discussed important developments in relation to Middle Eastern oil, there was zero representation from the region. In fact, the conference was deliberately made exclusive to the participants from main ‘oil consuming’ countries, namely European countries and the United States, excluding what could have been key insight from oil producing countries.

However, throughout the 1970s, Ditchley’s perception of the Middle East changed noticeably, and more Arab, Israeli and Iranian representation was made possible. As it turned out, Ditchley was one of the few Western institutions to invite a senior member of Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), Dr. Issam Sartawi, to represent Palestine at one of its international conferences discussing the prospects for reaching an Arab-Israeli settlement (May 1981).

By February 1997, in a conference named “Security and Stability in the Middle East,” chaired by a respected British career diplomat Sir John Coles GCMG, it was reported that the Middle East had historically been a “British mind-construct” and that the participants would have to consider whether that construct still coherently fitted the reality of the region where the balance of power had shifted so dramatically, particularly in the wake of the U.S.-Iran-Saudi tensions since 1979 and after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. It was also acknowledged in the conference summary that “The Middle East was bedevilled by misperception and demonisation, and more objective mutual understanding ought to reduce conflict risks […] which must in the long run offer the best hopes for internal stability and peace.” From thereon, the 21st century conferences followed this lead.

The following review, divided up according to the events that were pivotal to the politics of the region, highlights how Ditchley discussions engaged with the aim of supporting general peace and stability in the Middle East and ultimately leading to a new state of affairs ushered in by unexpected agreements such as the Iran Nuclear Deal (2015-ongoing) and the Abraham Accords (August 2020).

1970s-1980s: A Decade of War and (Attempted) Peace

1967 Six Day War

The 1970s in the Middle East began under the troubling shadow of the 1967 Six Day War. Though the war itself was brief, it ended in Israel’s decisive victory and capture of the Sinai Peninsula, Gaza Strip, West Bank, Jerusalem, and Golan Heights. The status of these territories subsequently became key points of contention in the long-running Arab-Israeli tensions. After this point, the Arab-Israeli issue came to occupy a level of prominence in both British and American Middle East policy so that both governments had to adopt new measures to sustain what was in their respective interests, particularly after the Israeli gains that altered British objectives of regional peace settlement unobtainable.

Despite continued frictions, the British government was deeply involved in the drafting of the UN Resolution 242, which called for Israeli withdrawal from territories occupied in the 1967 war and every peoples’ right to live in peace within secure and recognised boundaries free from threats or acts of force. While Egypt and Jordan accepted the resolution, the PLO criticised the resolution and believed that the question of Palestine had become an inconvenience for the West and reduced to a refugee problem. Why hundreds of thousands of Palestinians had become refugees was not, it seems, interrogated rather what the refugees meant for Israel, dominated the discussions. Even many years later, in a June 1982 conference when Palestinian aspirations for having their own state was addressed again, it was concluded that such an objective could potentially achieve reality if, for example, it could be agreed that only a specific number of Palestinians could resettle inside Israel.

Where Resolution 242 was to guarantee lasting peace, the 1967 Arab League summit produced different results. In the aftermath of the Arab defeat by Israel, the famous Khartoum Resolution was drafted (also known as the “Three No’s: No to peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, and no negotiations with Israel”). However, in the wars that followed since 1967, the pressing issue was no longer about the State of Israel’s right to exist but rather a matter of its territorial dimensions. For the British government, a new war in the Middle East meant serious economic consequences, and this was a topic of intense discussion as early as July 1971 in Ditchley. In this conference, it was acknowledged that unwavering Western alignment with the Israelis would alienate the Arabs into the Moscow camp, and should the Arab-Israeli peace negotiations fall through again, several raw materials, notably oil, would grow dearer and harder to attain for dependent countries in the West (July and November, 1971). This sent alarm bells ringing.

1973 Yom Kippur War and the Use of Oil as a Political Weapon

Nine months prior to the 1973 surprise Egyptian-Syrian attack on Israel, Ditchley hosted a conference to talk about the oil question. Chaired by a seasoned diplomat, Lord Humphrey Trevelyan, who had previously served as an ambassador to Egypt (1955-56) at the time of Suez, ambassador to Iraq during the 1961 Kuwait crisis, and also an ambassador to the Soviet Union before taking up a directorial role on the board of the British Petroleum (BP), it was conceded that, by 1980, some 70% of all the world’s imported oil was expected to come from the Middle East. This meant that the consuming countries, which included Europe, U.S. and Japan, would depend on the region for oil, granting the Arab states immense financial win and political bargaining strength.

Not only was this dependence on the region consequential on the oil consuming countries individually, but it also “offered the greatest scope for cooperation and, if this was not achieved, the greatest danger of conflict” (January, 1973). However, the U.S. believed that the Middle East had largely stabilised by the 1970s, particularly after the War of Attrition, 1969-1970. Gamal Abdel Nasser was also out of the picture, and there had been a truce between Egypt and Israel. This proved to be an important time for the Americans to provide stability for the Israelis. In a follow-up conference in June 1973 it was made evident that the Arab suppliers had indicated a willingness to supply future European demands of oil as a favour because West European governments did not follow the unequivocal support that the U.S. was offering to Israel. The participants of the June 1973 conference agreed that the failure to cooperate in the context of oil could most likely be detrimental to the bilateral relations shared between Western countries. There was an urgent need for a Middle East policy in Europe that would complement the attitude of the U.S. in order to appear as a united front. It was agreed that the solution for such a situation was to either seek to form an international cooperating body to conduct a comprehensive energy study, or to consult the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) as an effective consultative forum (June 1973) for this purpose.

However, more urgent measures were called upon once the October 1973 war began. Not only did the war spur an oil embargo against the West and put a halt on the ongoing U.S.-Soviet détente, but it also sparked a rift between the U.S. and its North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) allies, as Ditchley had earlier anticipated might happen. The use of oil as a weapon, done explicitly with the political objectives of altering U.S. policy toward Israel and the Israeli policy on territories captured in the 1967 war,contributed to a global recession. In a February 1975 conference, the immediate measures to promote peace and stability were discussed, as well as the tactics the West could and should employ to prevent an economic strangulation. There were also fears that the Soviets might establish their military presence in the region in order to pursue a ‘nuisance’ policy (June,1973), which only meant that speedy cooperation and effective action were needed without delay.

1978 Camp David Accords

Throughout the 1970s, Ditchley discussions emphasised Western interests in doing “everything possible, especially through American pressure on Israel, to defuse the situation by bringing about a political settlement at least between Israel and Egypt” (June 1973). Jimmy Carter’s inauguration as the 39th President of the United States in January 1977 coincided with the Egyptian President Anwar El-Sadat’s trip to Jerusalem and an agreement between Egypt and Israel seemed more likely now than in decades before.

In October that same year, Ditchley held a conference with the objective of intensifying the urgency for peace negotiations, alerting that, if a settlement was not reached, there may be renewed use of the oil weapons, a new round of war, or even use of political terrorism (October 1977). This conference was one of the most prolific conferences, attended by many senior politicians, diplomats, and renowned academics, including historian Roger Owen (St Antony's College, Oxford) and Bernard Lewis (Princeton). Echoing President Carter’s statements on Palestinian rights in the first half of 1977, Ditchley participants recognised how the Palestinians had been “more wronged than any of the other parties” and the participants unanimously recommended that the West Bank should be demilitarised as soon as possible.

With the U.S. as intermediary, the Camp David Accordswere concluded in September 1978 and a peace treaty was signed by Egypt and Israel a year later. This was opposed by the other Arab states and the PLO, but it saw the Israeli forces withdraw from the Sinai as demanded by Egypt. This represented a milestone in the history of the modern Middle East, a product of gruelling negotiations, obstacles, and clashes of distinct personalities of Carter, Sadat, and Menachem Begin.

Carter had been determined to employ peace in the Middle East, and while he had initially and partially succeeded in his efforts, the unforeseen 1979 Iranian Revolution had caught him—and the whole world—by surprise. The Shah, who had been a close ally to the U.S. and an eager purchaser to Western military hardware, was unceremoniously overthrown by a sea of frustrated Iranians and an unexpected Islamic rule of governance was brought to power by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. When in November 1979, only months after the revolution, Iranian militants took 66 American citizens, mostly American diplomats, hostage in the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, President Carter’s public image and popularity suffered heavily. He was unable to free them until moments after Ronald Reagan was sworn in as the new President of the U.S. in January 1981. This marked a new, much darker era for U.S.-Iran relations, which are yet to improve.

1980-1990: the First Intifada and Questions for Israeli Democracy

Lessons from the 1970s awakened a sense of caution in Western leaders. June 1980 Ditchley conference, chaired by Professor Hermann Eitls, who had previously served as the U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia and Egypt, and who had assisted Henry Kissinger’s ‘shuttle diplomacy’ efforts leading up to the Camp David Accords. The conference discussion emphasised the urgent need for oil consuming countries to “regain control over their destinies, a control which has been weakened by increasing dependence on oil imported from unstable areas” (June 1980). Observations of how unforeseen the revolution in Iran had been, and how unhoped for it had been for the Western powers, was another example of why cooperation and harmonisation of foreign policy and intelligence among the Western governments was necessary: it was to prevent further unanticipated upheaval and instability and whatever ramifications that may bear for the West (December 1980).

The talks in search for a lasting peace returned to the topic of Arab-Israeli settlement again in May 1981. The U.S. President Reagan called for a ‘fresh start’ in the Middle East peace process and did so by endorsing the Palestinians “full autonomy” in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip. In a 1981 Ditchley conference, however, it was realised that there lay multiple challenges to achieve this: for one, this ambition required Israel to acknowledge the Palestinians’ right to self-determination. Similarly, the PLO needed to publicly state its willingness to accept the state of Israel. This meant engaging in talks with the PLO, and while the Europeans were willing to do this, the Americans were not.

Although the U.S. encouraged progress in negotiations, its support for Israel was unconditional and this put the broader Western interests in the Arab world in jeopardy. One of the participants cautioned that the 1973 oil weapon could be employed again if the political climate demanded so, especially if the Saudi Royal Family were to ask for a solution for the Palestinian question. In June 1982, Ditchley held a conference to discuss the Israeli withdrawal from Sinai and to emphasise the necessity for, according to the conference summary, a “unified or at least a nonconflicting policy for the Middle East within the Western Alliance”.Europeans and Americans each felt the other should do more: the Europeans to convince the Arabs forward and the Americans to bring the Israelis (May 1983). If an allied front and coordination over policy was not to be achieved, it would have been understood that the political pressures on Riyadh would have increased from radical Arab states and the likelihood of acts of terrorism and assassinations in the Gulf would have grown (December 1983).

These series of conferences, titled “The Search for an Arab-Israeli Settlement” were hosted three times throughout the early 1980s. They were attended by a number of recognised politicians, business professionals, journalists, and peace activists, and fostered a greater sense of intercultural and cross-political dialogue between participants that flew in from various parts of the world. One of such person was the late Uri Avnery, who was a renowned Israeli writer, politician and peace activist. After the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982, Avnery became known as the first prominent Israeli to have met with the leader of the PLO, Yasser Arafat, representing a rising tide in Israel’s peace movement. 

In a June 1982 Ditchley conference, it was suggested that there was a need for “a unilateral Arab recognition of Israel”. The same year, this partially materialised; Arab leaders met in the Moroccan capital of Fez and agreed on a joint Middle East peace plan that effectively recognised the state of Israel but equally demanded that a Palestinian state is created with its capital in East Jerusalem. The Israeli government protested against this and continued to increase their number of settlements in those territories. It was argued by some that the Israelis sought to isolate the Palestinians from their lands by, for example, making it mandatory for them to carry an identity card on them at all times or to ask for permission from the Israeli authorities prior to holding meetings. These policies aggravated the Palestinians, and this eventually erupted into violent riots in 1987, also known as the First Intifada, and lasted until the 1993 Oslo Accords. One of Israel’s New Historians, Professor Avi Shlaim, who attended a number of Ditchley conferences throughout the 1990s on the topic of Arab-Israeli conflict, wrote that the photos of the Israeli soldiers ill-treating Palestinian protestors during the Intifada rocked Israel’s image internationally and made the Palestinian question relevant on the headlines once again.

The Ditchley conference, “A Review of Middle Eastern Crises and Prospects” (September, 1987), reflected the frustration of those working on resolving this conflict. One speaker said at the outset that there has not been “much of a peace and not much of a process” in the Arab-Israeli peace talks. If anything, new anxieties had emerged: due to high birth rates, the increasing population of Palestinians in Jordan were perceived to ‘Palestinianise’ the country, while for Israel they signified a threat toward their democracy. The fear was that Israel would lose credibility in its claim to be a democratic state if the Palestinian population dramatically grew without having adequate representation or voice in government. It is surprising that the concept of democracy appeared not to be challenged in this conference, particularly in light of the ongoing Intifada in the background, and the extent to which the Palestinian Arabs in Israel were systematically excluded from wide-ranging areas of Israeli life. While there is no conceptual contradiction between a government being Jewish and also democratic, it should have been made more clear that the state of Israel was established exclusively on an ethnoreligious basis and therefore was an ethnic democracy rather than the type of democracy exercised in the West (which is how it is often portrayed). For example, Professor Sammy Smooha, who attended a Ditchley conference titled “Nationalism in Modern Politics” in March 1986, wrote extensively about this phenomena and published a piece on it a decade later called “Ethnic Democracy: Israel as an Archetype” (1997).

1990-2000: Beyond the Arab-Israeli Conflict

1993 The Oslo Accords and the Aftermath

Following a Ditchley conference held in May 1989, Peter David wrote in an essay that the Intifada had been a source of new-found confidence and self-respect for Palestinians; it had given them international visibility and brought about a global campaign of solidarity. David, who at the time was the Middle East and Africa correspondent, and later the U.S. political correspondent, for The Economist, further stated that the Intifada had solidified what the Palestinians wanted, which was nothing short of a statehood and “all that went with it, a flag, UN membership, citizenship and passport”. While achieving a version of these demands may be acceptable, he wrote, about the Ditchley conference and suggested that only a few in the political circles of Israel saw it as a possibility. This was due to Israeli fears of the PLO’s long-term commitment to “destroy Israel”.

So when the Oslo talks came about and an official Israeli-PLO agreement was put in the formation, the news spread like wildfire and brought much amazement across the world. On 10 September 1993, Israel and the PLO exchanged letters of mutual recognition. On 13 September, in a ceremony held at the White House, in the presence of U.S. President Bill Clinton and Russian Foreign Minister Andrei V. Kozyrev, Israeli and PLO representatives signed the “Declaration of Principles on Interim Self Government Arrangements” (popularly known as the Oslo Accords). Following the signing, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and PLO’s leader, Arafat shook hands. However promising, this peace process suffered a tragic blow when Rabin was assassinated two years later by a Jewish extremist and the chance for a real reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians came to an abrupt end. In May 1996, the election of Benyamin Netanyahu, reversed the trend in Israeli-Palestinian relations.

During this period, Ditchley participants also sought to bring about an understanding of the situation between Americans and Europeans. There had been a long-running effort to create an environment where the Arabs and Israelis could see eye-to-eye, but the reality was that there were many disparities between how the Americans and their European allies perceived one another. When in 1973 Great Britain became a member of the European Economic Community (EEC), it also joined the European Political Cooperation forum, which meant that it played a key role in the collective decisions of Europe, including foreign policy. It was no secret that Britain (and by extension, Europe) and the U.S. had some “fundamentally different approaches” (April, 2002), and for many decades Britain had sought to bridge this by working more closely with international partners and building on the ‘special relationship’ with the U.S.

As early as the 1981, there was a discussion amongst Ditchley participants about whether the European Council should supplement the U.S. diplomacy, though the method and substance were not clarified. A decade later, on the onset of the Gulf War in July 1991, Sir Thomas S. Foley delivered a Ditchley Foundation Annual Lecture and reflected on this special relationship that exists between Britain and the U.S.. Foley, who had served as the 49th speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1989 to 1995, stated that “we can recognise that freedom has had its price and that both countries, with our partners in the alliance, paid a very heavy and important price,” in reference to the emblematic Anglo-American cooperation and coordination in the region in the postwar period. It was also a call for a new undertaking – a need for new coalition – following the Iraqi president Saddam Hussein’s use of force to extend Iraq’s power and invade Kuwait.

The Iraqi invasion of Kuwait took place in 1990, only two years after the bloody 8-year-long war with Iran. Nearly a decade after the lengthy Iran-Iraq war, which saw over 1,5 million lives perish, Ditchley participants discussed the ‘self-seeking despotism’ of Saddam Hussein’s rule described as oppressive both toward his own population and his neighbours (February 1999). It is however surprising, if not disheartening, that during 1980-1988 and certainly after 1983 (when Iran notified the United Nations that Iraq was using chemical weapons against its troops), Ditchley conferences did not dwell on Saddam Hussein’s extensive use of chemical warfare against his adversary, Iran, or against the Kurdish population living in Iraq. Instead, some of the American participants appeared to pursue a ‘stop Iran’ line (March 1987) or to periodically emphasise ‘the need to contain Iran’ (June 1982; and September 1987). Despite the Iraqi aggression toward Iran a decade earlier, it was only after Saddam had alienated the U.S. by violating the territorial integrity of Kuwait that the discussions became about ‘dual containment’ of Iraq and Iran (February 1995) and more attention was paid to Saddam Hussein’s disastrous dictatorship.

While it is a known that the relationship between Iran (now Islamic Republic of Iran) and the West transformed categorically post-1979, one cannot help but wonder how the Middle East would have been shaped differently had the U.S. not been directly involved in the Iraq-Iran war in support of the Iraqi regime, bolstering Saddam’s sense of righteousness? One American participant agreed that the U.S. perception of Iran was ‘distorted’ by the long-standing hostility between the U.S. and Iran’s Islamic revolution (September 1987), which meant that their strategic orientation to reinforcing ideological support for Israel and other regional allies was prioritised, for better or for worse.

However, Western Europe, unlike the U.S., believed they could enjoy whatwas described as “a better, privileged, and more stable relationship with Tehran” post-1979. Though it was quickly realised that the dream of a cooperating Iran and a compliant Western Europe would not actualise, a difference of judgement and emphasis – about means, not ends – continued to exist between the U.S. and Europe (February 1999).

9/11 and the War on Terror

The shattering events of September 11, 2001, set in motion major amendments to the U.S. foreign policy, intelligence and counterterrorism practises, and they also altered how Europe, particularly the UK, saw their presence in the Middle East unfolding. In a conference hosted a year before the U.S. invasion of Iraq, in association with the Hauser Foundation, discussion took place over “a need for a substantive dialogue between the USA and the EU” because there seemed to be a poignant gap between “their analysis, perspectives and policies on an issue which affected them all deeply” (February, 2002). Furthermore, having experienced a major traumatic terror attack on its own soil, the U.S. felt alone in that it considered itself “to be at war and Europe did not” (April 2002). The Americans sensed that they were entitled to deal with any further threats posed to its national security, on their own if necessary. However, given the number of high-profile participants at a Ditchley conference in 2002 from Canada, France, Germany, India, Italy, Norway, Russia, the UK, the U.S., and representatives from the UN and NATO, it was evident that the threat of terrorism was not only felt by the U.S.

What happened next was one of America’s most momentous foreign policy decisions in recent history. Britain’s then-Prime Minister, Tony Blair, had been consistent in his outlook that Saddam Hussein should be removed from power, whether or not he possessed weapons of mass destruction. After the 9/11 Al Qaeda attacks, he became even more determined and made a public commitment to stand by Britain’s American allies. Adhering to the NATO tenet that an attack on one member is an attack on all, British forces took part in the U.S.-led coalition to invade Afghanistan, and then Iraq, and turned a new page on the political scene in the Middle East.


The region that is today known as the Middle East has been described as the cradle of mankind where the first human civilizations were born. It is home to numerous cultures, world religions, and also to natural resources, such as oil, that have been fought over for decades. The numerous conferences held at Ditchley on the topic of Middle East, however, were less about the region’s cultural legacy and more about its strategic geographical importance, including what the region meant for the intellectual, political, economic and ideological interests of the West. Ditchley conferences brought together professionals from all walks of life, across the political spectrum, to connect, initiate discussions, and to come up with new solutions to old problems that undermined the universal values of freedom, democracy and human dignity. This was indeed the spirit that Ditchley embodied when in May 1981 the participants agreed that “politics is the art of the possible”, and surely that optimism carried through into the 21st century.

This review, as noted in the beginning, is not intended as a final discussion on this topic. The Middle East is a vast area, continuously in transformation, and many more detailed reviews can be written about the efforts of the Ditchley participants to influence policy, politics, and peace diplomacy. With the revival of the Iran nuclear agreement, and the realignment process spurred in the region by the Abraham Accords, one can only anticipate where each country takes their own respective futures, and with what kind of motives and calculations. As written in the Director’s Note following the "Prospects in the Middle East"  conference held in February 2002,Perhaps nowhere is it more true than in the Middle East that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction”, and this certainly remains relevant.

With Russia’s invasion of Ukraine earlier this year and Europe’s subsequent decision to cut off from Russia’s oil and gas, the Middle East has unsurprisingly found itself impacted by these sudden changes. There have been talks to turn to the Middle Eastern petrostates that have enough capacity to compensate, such as Saudi Arabia and the UAE. However, several questions arise from this: Do they have the willingness to do so? What will this ‘return to the Middle East oil’ mean for Western states that have for decades sought to lessen their dependence on the region? What kind of a relationship will this foster between post-Brexit Britain and Europe, as well as the U.S.? What will this mean for the countries of the region that are caught in a balancing act between Russia and the U.S.-U.K.-led Western camp? Last but not least, how will this tie in with the U.K.’s COP26 pledges and its efforts to invest in green, innovative projects that seek to tackle climate change in the Middle East? In order to foster productive, nuanced, and timely debates, and to inspire informed policies, these are salient questions that could be addressed in future Ditchley conferences to come.

Reviewed conferences:

- The Roots of British foreign policy 1929-1965 (November, 1965)

- The Middle East (January, 1968)

- The Middle East (June, 1968)

- The Middle Eastern Theatre (July, 1971)

- The Bases of Foreign Policy (November, 1971)

- The Bases of Foreign Policy (January 1973)

- Choices for Europe and America: The Middle East and the Energy Situation, 1973-1985 (June, 1973)

- The Middle East (October, 1977)

- Access to Middle Eastern Oil (June, 1980)

- The Search for Arab-Israeli Settlement: American and European Attitudes (May, 1981)

- Raw Materials: The Vulnerability of the West (June, 1981)

- The Search for an Arab-Israeli Settlement (May, 1983)

- The Middle East and the Gulf: A Fresh Look at Western Interests and Ways of Safeguarding Them (May, 1985)

- The Gulf War, Lebanon, Palestine: A review of Middle East Crises and Prospects (September, 1987)

- Policy Choices for Israel (May, 1989)

- The Middle East: Developments and Future Trends and Policies (May, 1991)

- After the Persian Gulf: American Politics and Policy in the 1990s (May, 1990)

- The New Face of the Middle East (December, 1992)

- The Gulf: Problems and Prospects (February, 1995)

- Security and Stability in the Middle East (March, 1997)

- Iran and Iraw: Prospects and Policies (February, 1999)

- Prospects in the Middle East (February, 2002)

- 11th September 2001: What Long-Term Impact? (April, 2002)

Timeline – Key Events:

1967 - Six Day War

1973 - Yom Kippur War, “Oil Weapon” initiated

1975-1990 – Lebanese Civil War

1978 - Camp David Accords

1979 - Iranian Revolution

1979 – U.S. Embassy Siege in Tehran, Iran

1980-1988 - Iran-Iraq War

1982 – Israel invades Lebanon

1987-1993 - First Intifada

1990 - Iraqi invasion of Kuwait

1991 – The First Gulf War

1991 – U.S.-led Liberation of Kuwait

1993 - The Oslo Accords

2000 – Second Intifada

2001 – September 11 terror attacks

2001 – U.S. invasion of Afghanistan

2003 – U.S. invasion of Iraq

The author would like to extend her warm thanks to the Ditchley Archives team for their editorial guidance and support. She would also wish to express her deepest appreciation for the Emeritus Professor Avi Shlaim (University of Oxford) for his invaluable insight and knowledge on this topic.