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Middle East Focus is a weekly podcast featuring talk and analysis on U.S. foreign policy, contemporary political and social issues in the Middle East, and the arts and culture of region. It is produced by the Middle East Institute, a non-partisan think tank in Washington, D.C. For more information visit

Feb 8, 2018

With the absence of multilateral diplomatic forums in the Middle East and the Trump administration scaling back on U.S. diplomatic outreach, the role of backdoor diplomatic channels, known as “Track II” dialogues, has seldom been more important. Randa Slim, director of MEI's program on conflict management and Track II dialogues, and Robert Ford, former US ambassador to Syria, join Paul Salem to discuss the role of these dialogues in addressing issues ranging from the Syrian civil war to the conflict in Yemen and regional tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia.