UNO held conference to reflect on relationship between the U.S. and Middle East


Taylor Timberlake

The University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) held a conference on Sept. 27 for the community to reflect on a part of the world that tends to be misunderstood: The Middle East. The conference, Conflict & Uncertainty: Iran, the U.S. and the Middle East, was hosted by the office of International Studies, Department of History, and the Center for Afghanistan Studies.

The conference had four guest speakers: Eric Lob, a professor of politics and international relations at Florida International University; Kevan Harris, professor of sociology at the University of California Los Angeles; James Clark, instructor of history and overseas director for the American Institute of Iranian Studies; and Ahmad Khalid Majidyar, a fellow at the Middle East Institute and the director of the IranObserved Project. Each individual speaker had either been to Iran, or has extensive knowledge of the government, culture, politics, and even political upheaval.

While the morning discussion differed from the afternoon, both tried to highlight the conflict between the U.S. and Iran, especially since the 1979 revolution; Foreign relationships between Iran and the rest of the world; the economy of Iran and sanctions; the effect of military intervention from the U.S.; Iranian elections; and whether Iran poses a real threat to the U.S. and its allies.

The afternoon discussion focused on “events inside Iran,” Clark said. “In politics as well as in economics and perhaps in society.”

The hour-long discussion focused on these topics starting from the aftermath of the Iranian revolution through all the social, economic, and political changes, ending on where the U.S. and Iran stand after President Trump’s push on harder sanctions on Iran’s imports and exports.

The repercussions of these actions were highlighted by Lob, “my prediction is, Iran survived the previous round because Iran is a landmass surrounded by many countries, it’s not an isolated country, it’s highly integrated with countries, especially in east Asia, south Asia, and the Gulf,” Lob said. “Economics have a way to flow around these barriers and so does Iran, so it will get worse, but it survived before, and it will again.”

Iran and the U.S. will continue to butt heads in the foreseeable future, but people are trying to understand and work with each other towards a better future. Why else have a conference but to inform and keep people in the know, with both sides accounted for. While no one can predict the future, there is hope for peace and understanding between two long rivals.