Labour Middle East Council hopes to shape Britain’s regional policy

Peace, stability and prosperity set out as aims for the movement

Sir William Patey as ambassador to Afghanistan in Kabul, in March 2012. EPA
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A new forum has been launched to enhance the Labour Party‘s engagement with the Middle East and improve the party’s relationship with the region.

With the opposition riding high in the polls before this year's general election, the Labour Middle East Council seeks input into future British foreign policy that enhances the UK’s engagement with the Middle East and North Africa.

“The geopolitical significance of the Middle East is immense,” said Sir William Patey, co-chair of the Labour Middle East Council and former British ambassador to Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan.

“The region is a mosaic of diverse cultures, religions and political landscapes, each with unique challenges and opportunities.

“From the delicate sectarian balance in Iraq, the intricate tribal dynamics of Afghanistan, to the evolving social reforms in Saudi Arabia, each country presents a unique set of challenges and opportunities."

Labour says it is keen to achieve regional stability to protect Britain’s national security and immigration policies during the Israel-Hamas conflict, Syrian civil war and Iran's regional ambitions.

“The future of British foreign policy, especially in relation to the Middle East, is more than a matter of international relations – it's a reflection of our global commitments and values,” Sir William said.

“Re-establishing the UK as a leader in global diplomacy and co-operation under Labour is not just a strategic necessity but a moral imperative.”

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In line with shadow foreign secretary’s David Lammy's vision of a “Britain reconnected", the approach recognises the interdependence of nations and the importance of constructive engagement in shared global challenges.

UK policy to the Middle East extends beyond conflict resolution to include partnerships in emerging sectors.

“Acknowledging the region's strides in technology and climate innovation – exemplified by the UAE's ambitious space endeavours, Saudi’s 2030 Vision, and Morocco's renewable energy projects – is crucial,” Sir William said.

Recent Cop conferences in Cairo and Dubai also underscore the region's potential in addressing climate change, offering opportunities for collaborative, sustainable development, Labour said.

Sir William said that by aligning Labour's commitment to social justice and equality with these progressive projects, the UK can play a significant role in global challenges, contributing to prosperity domestically and internationally.

“By fostering informed dialogue, nurturing strategic partnerships and advocating policies rooted in mutual respect and shared progress, we are committed to turning this vision into a tangible reality, reinforcing the UK's role as a dynamic and responsible leader in international relations,” he said.

Updated: February 01, 2024, 10:55 PM