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Drawing on his years as an Arabist in the Foreign Service and as a Special Adviser to BP, Sir Mark Allen gave his personal reflections on the current situation in the Middle East, the advent of the Arab Spring and considerations about its fall-out. The Middle East has become perceived as an arena of risk and a paradox of political immobility. ‘Notional risks’ are being realised as current hazards. Techniques for measuring risk are proliferating and vary greatly in quality and assurance, confusing risk and threat. Sir Mark Allen will examine broader principles for assessment and judgment, points to watch for the future and repercussions for energy markets.
Sir Mark Allen joined HM Diplomatic Service in 1973. He did further Arabic training at MECAS (1974) and then served as Third Secretary in Abu Dhabi (1975-77), working on internal politics and oil in the aftermath of the Arab oil embargo. He served in Cairo (1978-81), again working on internal politics, and then as First Secretary (Finance and Economic) in Belgrade (1982-86), supporting UK’s role in annual Paris Club rescheduling of Yugoslav debt and relations with the IMF. He dealt with East European affairs in London (1986-90) before returning to the Middle East as Counsellor (Political) in Amman (1990-94). In London, Mark was later responsible for work on countering the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, for operational work in Africa and the Middle East and counter terrorism. Finally he was responsible for Global Issues which included terrorism, WMD and strategic crime. His latest book, Arabs, was published in June 2006.