Toward a Secure Middle East

Category: Middle East, World Affairs Topics: Arab League, Arab World, Foreign Policy, Middle East Channel: Opinion Views: 3213

In my opinion a secure Middle East requires full appreciation of the past, a full understanding of the present and a vision for the future.

It is a vision of a Middle East that links up with the world as a stakeholder in the establishment of global peace, security and prosperity - not as a battlefield or a playground in which conflicting international and regional interests confront each other and consequently produce an environment conducive to tension, violence and terrorism.

Today there is a trend in the international politics of the Middle East to regard crisis management as a goal in itself rather than a means of making the region a stakeholder.

This is especially evident in the Arab-Israeli conflict. Currently, efforts are under way to bring the two parties to the table "without conditions," without a deadline or threats to impose sanctions. But this situation has occurred repeatedly in the past, resulting in major losses for the Arab side as the Israelis manipulated the endless negotiations while altering the demographic composition and geographical character of the occupied Arab territories. Therefore, "crisis management" - at least as it prevails today in the Middle East - has acquired a negative connotation.

This is exacerbated by the lack of depth and objectivity in the calls for reforms in the Middle East, particularly in the Arab World. The Palestinian decision to conduct elections in 2006 was greeted by fanfare everywhere. When the election results were not to the liking of those who were preaching democracy, they decided not to recognize them. Some even went further, calling for rescinding aid to the Palestinians. This episode has only served to undermine the calls for democratic reforms across the region.

Moreover, there is an explicit double standard in dealing with other serious problems. The most glaring is the Iranian nuclear program.

We all agree that the Middle East should not tolerate any nuclear military program. The Arab countries are uncomfortable with any such programs, including the reported Iranian activities. But to ask the Arab states to take a collective tough stance against Iran requires tackling the issue of the Israeli nuclear program as well. Western countries have to clarify their position on the Israeli nuclear situation if they want their policies on nuclear nonproliferation to gain credibility in the region.

Selective policies have become a pattern in dealing with security issues in the Middle East. One glaring example is Yemen, which has been plagued with a menacing civil war poverty and other problems common to the world's least-developed countries.

Very early on, the Arab League called for a national reconciliation process, but we were not supported by any foreign power. It was not the actual situation in Yemen but the war with Al Qaeda that finally provoked the international community to act.

Al Qaeda is an unacceptable, criminal organization that should be combated. But the situation in Yemen is more complex than just the Al Qaeda dimension. Until the real causes of the multifaceted crises in the Middle East are recognized, international policies in the region will not gain credibility.

Western policies are based only on how to deal with the violent trends in Muslim society. If we really want to be effective in containing and combating such trends, we must also emphasize efforts to advance economic and social progress in the Middle East.

I urge Western governments, public-opinion makers, NGOs and development institutes to follow closely the new emphasis put by the Arab League on issues of development in the Arab World with a view to launching a "partnership in development." We need a cooperation partnership, not policies of hit-and-run, propose-and-forget, divide-and-rule.

The Arab world today is in a high state of frustration. Yet we have decided to move on. Here is what the future requires:

A developed Arab world. The money is available. Intra-Arab investment, trade, tourism, a labor movement, transportation and communications are progressing, though not at the speed we would like to see. Electricity grids have begun to link several Arab countries. Gas grids are under construction. We are building links with Turkey, Italy and Spain. We are working toward an Arab customs union by 2015.

A regional cooperative security structure. We must build a region free of nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction, and free of foreign occupation. The Arab League is considering the establishment of an Arab peacekeeping force to regain regional ownership of the resolution of its conflicts.

A developed regional system. We should reinvigorate the Arab League as a full-fledged regional organization after the model of the European Union.

I would also like to emphasize the principles embodied in the Arab Peace Initiative. The Arab-Israeli conflict needs to be resolved through the establishment of a viable Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza strip with East Jerusalem as its capital. If such scenarios as expressed by the United Nations, the United States, the European Union and the Arab world are accomplished, a new Middle East will emerge, bringing a new era of peace and stability.


Amr Moussa is secretary general of the Arab League. This article is adapted from his address at a forum held by the Academie Diplomatique Internationale and the International Herald Tribune.

  Category: Middle East, World Affairs
  Topics: Arab League, Arab World, Foreign Policy, Middle East  Channel: Opinion
Views: 3213

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Older Comments:
On the article "Toward a Secure Middle East" by Amr Moussa my opinion is different. In this case, Arab countries position is weak due to not capable to fight for the reason that this clash is not come to the end point. If you have self defense capability, nobody will continue keep you in struggle situation. That's why everyone has the right to build up nuclear technology. For this conflict, defense capability, particularly in the nuclear technology and weapon field, only have the solution.

The vision of Sec. Amr is good. But he seems to be missing the point or in a state of denial.

No progress is being made in the Palestenian issue. Since the time Obama (the black gentile)asked Natanyahu (the jew) to stop settlement activities and true as stated in the Quran, the 'jew' refused the gentile (the ummiyin) and even went ahead to proposed building 500 more settlements; even though they consider each other as 'friends'.

The truth is that the Palestenians are on their own and by extension the ME is a non issue. The only available option is for iran to continue with its nuclear objective with a view to forcing the Israelis and the Americans to come to a particular stand on peace. But wait a minute, i had the iranians also changing their minds for agreeing to the UN=US+Israel's proposal. So we are still back to square one.

Israelis are having their way gradually and i'm seeing them dictating the end results of ME with or without US's intervention. It is a fearful and abominable proposition but it is the truth.