By Mehmood-Ul-Hassan Khan
Three day 16th Annual regional security conference “Global Strategic Developments: A Futuristic Vision was organised by the prestigious Emirates Center for Strategic Studies and Research (ECSSR). It was held at the ECSSR Abu Dhabi from 21-23-March 2011. Ministers, high officials, business tycoons, prominent research scholars, think-tanks, heads of the research institutes, politicians, strategists, and intelligentsia rigorously contributed and actively participated in the conference.
Many thoughtful speeches were delivered. Purposeful interaction was also made in the answer& question session throughout the conference.
Shaikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE Foreign Minister, said that the Arab world was experiencing exceptional circumstances that would have significant and long-term implications for the region as a whole.
In his remarkable critical analysis H.R.H. Prince Turki Al Faisal Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud Chairman King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, emphasized to build closer socio-economic ties with the emerging economies i.e. BRICS, EU, and GCC etc. Prince Turki called for members to reconsider the goals of the GCC, saying that the Gulf bloc should be transformed like the European Union. He endorsed the paradigm shift in the power politics of the world. He warned about the increasing ratios of climate change around the globe. He summarized the emerging socio-economic, geo-political and geo-strategic changes in the Middle East and MENA region. He narrated the struggle for change in the Sudan, Tunisia and Egypt, Libya and even in Bahrain. He urged to have a common Gulf Armed Forces and mutual cooperation in peaceful nuclear power.He stressed the need to have greater security arrangements in the GCC. He talked about the importance of strategic dialogue in the region to resolve the conflicting realities. He also narrated the nuclear threats in the region and presented workable solutions to avoid this crisis in the days to come. Collective security for collective sovereignty in the GCC must for further marching of socio-economy and strengthening of geo-politics. He strongly reaffirmed the importance of socio-economic and military block within the framework of the GCC. He considered rigorous socio-economic reforms for achieving equitable governance system.
In his excellent speech H.E. Abdul Rahman bin Hamad Al Attiyah ongoing Secretary General Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Kingdom of Saudi Arabia he evaluated the different socio-economic, geo-political and geo-strategic scenarios in the GCC, Middle East and MENA region. He compared the Arab political change similarities to that of Eastern Europe, where protests moved from one country to another.
The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries need to push the pace of political reforms so that they will match the pace of social, cultural and economic changes he added.
He analyzed the achievements of socio-economic and security stability of Tunisian government. He summarized that denial of a fair and free market competition, concentration of wealth in few influential junta, lack of transparency, corruption were the few reasons of its debacle. In case of Egypt, he was of the opinion that the dominant role of the presidency in decision-making institutions, rampant corruption and lack of freedom of speech played havoc with the political articulation of the country and ultimately economy burst and collapsed.
He stressed the need to have active political participation for achieving development and stability. Increasing population immediately demands high ratios of employment generation opportunities in the GCC. Al Attiyah said the population of the GCC countries is expected to reach 53 million by 2020. This requires creating more jobs for an increasing numbers of young graduates.
He advised to initiate the strategic planning system, give citizens priority in the labor market, and promote public participation in decision-making. He added that despite the different approaches to political modernisation adopted by different GCC countries, they have a common political will to achieve harmony between the pace of reforms and political and social stability.
Dr. John Duke Anthony President and CEO the National Council on US–Arab Relations USA presented his well prepared paper on “Uni-polarism and Superpower Politics”. He talked about the salient features of US foreign policy in the past, present and future. He divided the US foreign policy in to six parts i.e. a grand strategy dealing with issues of war and peace; economic interests, including energy; political interests; increasing commercial interests; defense; and the quest to apply ‘soft power,’ particularly the promotion of the English language and political reform. He tried his level best to defend the US vested interest in Iraq and Afghanistan. Moreover, he suggested some meaningful strategies to counter anti-American sentiments in the Muslim countries.
H.E. Ambassador. Dr. Nassif Hitti Head of the League of Arab States Mission in Paris Permanent Observer of the League to UNESCO read his paper “the Role of Rising Powers in the Global System in the said conference. He narrated the drastic changes in the international power status quo. He briefly talked about the uni-polar moment; the ‘end of history’ and the ‘clash of civilizations’ models. He talked about the importance of soft power in the international relations. He compared the significance of uni-polar, bipolar and multi-polar world.
He pinpointed the different stages of emerging socio-economic, geo-political and geo-strategic transformation around the globe. Asia’s economic supremacy, dawn of information technology, free market arena, emergence of prominent regional blocks i.e. ASEAN, China’s continued economic dominance and the last but not the least unjust international trade and monetary system paved the way for rapid changes around the world.
He spoke highly about the BRICS i.e. Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa economic block. He also mentioned Chinese South-North strategic dialogue. He stressed the need to further develop and establish relations with key regional powers in different parts of the world such as Turkey, Argentina or Senegal too in the days to come.
Don Kraus CEO Citizens for Global Solutions, from USA presented his paper on the subject “The Future of the United Nations and the Security Council”. He evaluated the different achievements of the UNO. He termed the 2005 World Summit a major policy shift at UNO which enabled it to develop a small UN police capacity, a central emergency response fund, and an independent audit advisory committee. He forecasted many fundamental changes to the UN in the days to come.
He praised the contributory role of the Internet and social media in the further development of UN reforms. He hoped that in the Security Council, the five permanent members will adopt a new norm: the responsibility not to veto. They will assume the responsibility to respond to mass atrocities and to refrain from blocking others from acting against atrocities. He calculated that the UN would be engaged rigorously in conflicts or natural disasters in the future. He advised to have a well-equipped permanent emergency response service, with expertise in conflict resolution, environmental response, and medical intervention. He warned that increasing the number of permanent members will compound the council’s problems. He said that one proposal put forward would reduce the number of seats to twelve regional seats. These regions would be different from the current ones for example the UAE would be represented by the Middle East region.
He hoped that the UN parliamentary assembly may also become more prominent. This is composed of representatives from national parliaments, unlike other UN bodies. Greater prominence for the parliamentary assembly would decrease the UN’s democratic deficit by giving voice to legislative bodies and opposition parties.
Gen. (Ret.) Colin Powell Former secretary of State, USA briefly shared his childhood, youth and professional life with the audience in a interesting manners. He succeeded to cover all aspects of socio-economic, geo-political and geo-strategic changes occurred around the world. Colin Powell compared the philosophical, political and militarily dimensions of the Cold War Area. Former secretary of State talked about the importance of democracy, rule of the law, freedom of speech, transparency and good governance in achieving the desired goals of socio-economic growth.
He endorsed the importance of merit, education, health, employment and tolerance in the stability and sustainability of any group, society and country. It termed economic growth must for removing all social, civil and political ills from any country. Colin Powell said “the most powerful force shaping the world today is economic development and wealth creation”.
“China has opened up its economic system and normalized its political system. It has lifted 400 million people out of poverty, but 800–900 million remain poor. The Chinese know that their main goal must be to respond to these people’s aspirations” he added.
He summarized the salient features of former Soviet Union Premier Gorbachev’s policies of glasnost and perestroika and spoke about its multidimensional repercussions.
He highlighted the series of continued reforms in the USA which made it land of opportunity. He praised the positive role of media in the history of the USA.
He also compared the emerging socio-economic revolution, geo-political transformation and geo-strategic regrouping in the Middle East and stressed the need to have better life for the marginalized communities and poor people in these countries through poverty reduction efforts, health facilities and employment generation.
Dr. Earl Tilford Director of Research Strategic Studies Institute (SSI) US Army War College United States of America presented his valuable research paper titled “The Future of War”. He compared the pre and post Cold War Areas. He evaluated the demise of the Soviet Union and the success of the 1990–91 campaign to eject Iraqi forces from Kuwait, encouraged the US establishment to emphasis on technological excellence and enhancements of military equipment. Emergence of terrorism as fatal global threat the US military has become so-called icon of universal compatibility and resistance.
He assured the audience that in any future conflict, the importance of avoiding civilian casualties will be a major factor in the tactics used by the United States and its allies. He admitted that widespread of information technology has negated some of the advantages of the US military technology. He rated that cyber warfare would be a big security threat in the days to come. He was of the view that role of media would be important in resolving any conflicting situation in the world.
Jaap de Hoop Scheffer Former Secretary General North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Kingdom of the Netherlands shared his professional experiences in his paper “The Future of Military Alliances”. He asserted the need to have strong political will to put an end to conflicts, and confrontations and the last but not the least conspiracies.
“A military alliance cannot be successful without a firm political foundation. In the 21st century world, collective security is much more than military security” he added.
He compared the increasingly military role of the NATO which he claimed a political–military alliance based on shared values, and the allies have always shared a consensus on where and when to act.
According to him the European Union is a successful but unfinished alliance. He highlighted the economic and financial strong foundations of the EU. But foreign policy and defense, the union lacks the necessary cohesion and credibility he further added. He urged that the EU should have strong political will to make the EU a serious defense or foreign policy actor in the world power politics.
He termed G-20 as new centre of power and socio-economic integration. He briefly narrated the importance of the UNSC Resolution 1973 which may start new era of bilateral relations between the United States, Europe and the Arab world. He was optimist about the further collaboration between the NATO and the GCC in the near future. He admired the prompt role played by the UAE to protect the sovereignty of Bahrain.
Dr. John Chipman, CMG Director General and Chief Executive International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) United Kingdom read his critical paper on the subject “A Strategic Vision for Gulf Security”.
He stressed the need to have a closer cooperation and collective security arrangements in the GCC. He was of the opinion that a unified Yemen, a stable Iraq and a friendly Iran may be instrumental for the further strengthening of GCC block.
He emphasized on good governance, political articulation and true democratic structures for the betterment of the whole region. He urged to achieve sustainable economic development and recognition of the political rights of the governed.
He suggested that the situation in Bahrain can only be resolved through a combination of stability and domestic reforms aimed at enhancing social cohesion. According to him Bahrain’s conflict resolution lies in national reconstruction and reconciliation.
He pinpointed that easy and smooth supply of energy supplies would be vital for the promotion of mutual cooperation and coordination among the member states i.e. GCC. He predicted that that in the future, the relationship between the GCC states and emerging major powers, particularly in the Asia–Pacific, will become increasingly important to the Gulf region. He strongly suggested following the ASEAN model for the GCC. Furthermore, he proposed strategic agenda for the GCC i.e. enhanced domestic resilience; export as well as import security; more diplomatic engagement with both East and West; an improved regional security apparatus; a new emphasis on more formalized diplomacy and less reliance on personal diplomacy; and the formulation of the global and strategic outlook necessary to participate on the international stage.
Dr. Ekaterina Stepanova Lead Researcher Institute of World Economy and International Relations (IMEMO) Russian Academy of Sciences Russian Federation critically analyzed the different conventional and non-conventional security threats to the world in paper titled “Future Threats to National Security”. Rigorous statistical data was used during the presentation. She compared the nature, reasons, outcomes and implications of different conflicts since 1990s. She predicted that instances of internal conflict that provoke external intervention would be on the increase. Most external interventions tend to be initiated in support of a ruling government. She also forecasted that instances of external intervention in favor of insurgent and separatist groups would tend to remain rare.
She said that regarding non-state actors, there was an increasing trend of targeting civilian rather than purely military targets. Out of her research paper conclusion she was of the opinion that violence would increasingly take the form of terrorist attacks, deliberate massacres motivated by ethnic/political disputes, and destructive counter-insurgency operations.
She shared that the future nature of violence was likely to involve both states and non-state groups using violence to generate disproportionately large strategic, political and economic effects. Although the ‘War on Terrorism’ has been in effect for nearly ten years, instances of terrorist attacks have increased she added.
She claimed social media played very important role in the recent turmoil of the Middle East. She further added that high ratios of poverty, unemployment and corruption were the main reasons for ongoing power struggle throughout the Middle East.
Richard A. Clarke Former Advisor the President and National Coordinator for Security and Counter-Terrorism Partner, Good Harbor Consulting United States of America presented his suggestion through his paper “Smart Cities of the Future: Implications for State Security”. He highlighted the importance of immaculate planning, use of most advanced technologies and environmental friendly strategies and apparatus would be important in the days to come.
He considered that integration of all possible installed systems for the managing of different problems such as terrorism, environmental catastrophe, medical emergencies, traffic congestion, street crime or natural disasters essential for a save city.
He highlighted the importance of different electronic gadgetry and home appliances for tight residential security, avoidance of traffic jamming, and inter-city transportation. He mentioned the effective Control System of Singapore which enables individual citizens to travel safe. Richard talked about the institutionalization of a set of mandatory safety standards for the design of buildings. He said that safe cities used software rather than human beings to monitor their sensor networks. He was of the opinion that private privacy of the people must be protected at any cost.
H.E. Sultan Bin Nasser Al-Suwaidi Governor Central Bank of the UAE, United Arab Emirates shared his diversified expertise in his valuable research paper titled “International Financial Institutions and Global Economic Stability”. He said that global economic recession and financial crunch started in 2008 stressed the need to have a closer global cooperation in handling such crises. He pinpointed that the consequences of such crises could include significant increases in inflation and poverty. He talked that it had multiplier effects even on global financial markets and losses on global stock exchanges reached 30 trillion dollars.
The Governor the central bank compared the different banking and financial crises of the past and praised the contributory role of the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
He mentioned the preferential strategies of the World Bank and IMF. According to him, World Bank is engaged with serious issue of global poverty whereas; IMF is interested/confined to offer allocations to emerging states and markets to help them overcome such crises.
He shared the working efficiency and capacity of the UAE Central Bank which always works to achieve financial stability in the UAE through the creation of a financial system that is capable of handling crises. He mentioned that rigorous banking and financial reforms are being implemented due to which the UAE does not have any liquidity constraints in its markets. He proudly shared that inflation in the UAE remained low during the times of global economic crisis.
Manu Bhaskaran Partner, Centennial Group Senior Adjunct Research Fellow Institute of Policy Studies Republic of Singapore presented paper on “The Global financial Crisis: Implications for Emerging Economies”. He briefed about the bright prospects of emerging markets economies. He considered structural change must for the revival of global economics. He also mentioned the different multiplier effects of the global economic crisis i.e. surging inflation, currency turmoil and misallocation of capital. He predicted that there would be greater regulation and a backlash against rising inequality and “De-globalization” fears would be are exaggerated.
It recommended that collective efforts may be useful to cope with the ongoing global economic crisis and huge infrastructure spending will help. He warned that the unwinding of fiscal and monetary stimulus, the problems in the US housing sector, and higher energy and transportation prices would weaken the global economic recovery drive. He said that the post-crisis landscape would also be impacted by climate change policies and climate change itself. He said that the opinion that global imbalances must be rectified.
He suggested that policymakers in the Gulf and Singapore must be to develop the capacity to bounce back from economic shocks. New economic models must address the implications of currency appreciation he added. He elaborated that the importance of social safety nets has been under-weighted and must be reevaluated. He stressed the need to initiate policies relating to housing and increase infrastructure spending. Moreover, intra-regional trade should be boosted, transportation links within regions should be improved, and labor migration should be encouraged he said.
Dr. Kemal Derviş Vice President, Global Economy and Development The Brookings Institution, USA Senior Advisor, Istanbul Policy Center Sabancı University Republic of Turkey shared his thoughts in his paper titled “The Global financial Crisis: Implications for Emerging Economies”. He talked about the existing international monetary system badly affected with the currency war between the USA and China. Unresolved currency war is bane on international financial system he added. He briefed about the different foreign reserves management systems prevailing around the globe
“65 percent of global reserves are held in dollars, around $4 trillion of reserves are held in unspecified currencies” he further added.
Dr. Kemal mentioned the emerging socio-economic, banking and financial ills of the EU which forced it to seek series of huge economic assistance packages from the IMF. China will be an increasingly important player in the international financial system he elaborated. He predicted that large emerging economies such as Brazil and India, and smaller ones such as the UAE and Turkey, would also exert growing influence.
According to him the Special Drawing Right (SDR) will become increasingly important and might evolve sufficiently to replace the dollar as the world’s main international reserve currency. The development of the SDR as a reserve currency will aid the emergence of a multi-polar system, though we cannot realistically expect such a development for some years Dr. Kemal further added.
H.E. Amat Al-Alim Alsoswa Assistant Secretary-General Director of the Regional Bureau for Arab States United Nations Development Program (UNDP) United States of America talked about the “Prospects for Human Development in the Gulf”. He mentioned that better political system, employment opportunities, sustainable economy, community cohesion and social makeup must for us.
It rated better Human Resource Management (HRM) must for achieving desired goals of socio-economic growth. Health facilities, widespread of education and standards of living should be provided to common people of the GCC. He stressed the need to promote qualitative education instead of quantitative education in the region. He praised women empowerment in the member states of the GCC.
He summarized the diversified achievements of the GCC in free market arena. The rate of internet usage in GCC states, social networking and communications infrastructure in the GCC states has showed complete overhauling in the societies. He also pinpointed the different emerging challenges in the GCC not confined only to sustainable economic growth, water, food security, alternative energy resources and decreasing reliance on expatriate labor.