Politics

What Will Be The UK's Middle East Strategy After Brexit?

As tensions between the US and Iran continue to rise, how might the UK pursue its interest and support allies in the region after Brexit?

Military and security experts have been assessing the likely impact of Brexit on Britain's relationship with the Middle East.

It was top of the agenda at the Middle East conference at the Royal United Services Institute in London. 

Dr Toby Greene, visiting fellow at Queen Mary University, said 'President Trump does not want to commit America to another Middle East war'.

He said: "What we need now, I think, is for policymakers in Britain and in Europe to engage with the US administration, to try and figure out how to turn the acute crisis that they have created - perhaps without a very clear exit strategy from the crisis - but to try and turn that into an opportunity to address both the acute crisis that we face right now but also the long-term challenges that relate to both Iran's nuclear programme and its other regional policies."

Houses of Parliament.
Sir Mark Lyall-Grant: the UK 'will not have a specific Middle East strategy'.

Sir Mark Lyall-Grant, a former National Security Adviser to the UK, said that the UK 'will not have a specific Middle East strategy': 

"I think it will be part of a global strategy where we are wanting to build up our bilateral relations with a whole number of different regions of the world."

"Of course the Middle East will be one of the most important of those, because it's on Europe's neighbourhood and we already have quite strong defence and security links with a number of the Gulf states and with Saudi Arabia, and that's something that the government is going to want to focus on after Brexit."

However, according to Kings College London's Dr David Roberts, 'Iran is a fundamentally multilateral issue': "On one side we have America desperately trying and hoping that if they withdraw from this Iran nuclear deal, Iran will blink first fundamentally and capitulate and acquiesce to US demands. That won't happen, I think really."