Policy Briefs for the Middle East Conference on a WMD/DVs Free Zone
The series of Policy Briefs for the Middle East Conference on a WMD/DVs Free Zone was launched in late 2011 by the Academic Peace Orchestra Middle East. The goal of this series is to provide ideas, concepts, and background information to shape the debate on the planned Conference at a time when such services are most needed. Addresses include vital decision-makers in the Middle East, United Nations delegations and embassies as well as the representatives of the relevant external powers and the interested public.
The Policy Briefs are the result of the Orchestra's workshops and they are jointly written by the "best and the brightest" in their respective field of expertise. The mix of coordinators and authors from inside and outside the region will make it possible not only to get the first-hand national and regional information, but also to express the more distanced views of extra-regional experts.
The First Two Steps to Cope with Military Asymmetries in the Middle East (II) - Listing Security Concerns and Motives behind Weapon Programs in the GCC States and Iran
Establishing a zone free of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and their delivery vehicles (DVs) in the Middle East requires a cooperative, ‘give and take’ approach to arms control, reduction, and disarmament. Without providing a blueprint, we suggest a strategy for coping with the ‘jungle’ of military complexities by presenting the lists of security concerns of the participating countries at the Middle East Conference as a first step. As a second step, we propose to identify the motives and interests behind WMD and DV programs, which also reflect domestic factors such as historical experiences, military-industrial-bureaucratic interests, and broad domestic power constellations. Taken together, these security concerns and motives behind WMD and DV programs constitute the major stumbling blocks on the gradual way towards a WMD/DVs Free Zone in the Middle East. The dialectical, yet asymmetrical relationship between conflict formations/coalitions and weapons is also relevant for assessing confidence- and security-building measures (CSBMs). Hence, the immediate conclusion is to conceptualize weapon/DV-related CSBMs as the next step along the incremental path towards a WMD/DVs Free Zone. While a previous issue has analyzed Egypt, Israel, and Syria, this Policy Brief deals with the members of the Gulf Cooperation Council vis-à-vis Israel and Iran, Iran vis-à-vis the United States, Israel, and Saudi Arabia, and the U.S. vis-à-vis Iran.
The First Two Steps to Cope with Military Asymmetries in the Middle East (I) - Listing Security Concerns and Motives behind Weapon Programs in Egypt, Israel, and Syria
In order to establish a zone free of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and their delivery vehicles (DVs) in the Middle East, a cooperative, ‘give and take’ approach to arms control, reductions, and disarmament must be found. Without providing a blueprint, we suggest a strategy for coping with the ‘jungle’ of military complexities by presenting the lists of security concerns of the participating countries at the Middle East Conference as a first step. As a second step, we propose to identify the motives and interests behind WMD and DV programs, which additionally reflect domestic factors such as historical experiences, military-industrial bureaucratic interests, and broad domestic power constellations. Taken together, these security concerns, motives, and interests constitute the stumbling blocks on the gradual way towards a WMD/DVs Free Zone. The dialectical, yet asymmetrical relationship between conflict formations and weapons is also relevant for assessing confidence- and security building measures (CSBMs). Hence, the conclusion is to build both upon the lists of concerns and the motives and interests by conceptualizing weapon/DV-related CSBMs as the next step along the incremental path towards a WMD/DVs Free Zone. While this issue covers Egypt, Israel, and Syria, the following one will consider Iran, the Gulf Cooperation Council, and the United States vis-à-vis the Islamic Republic.
From Confrontation to Selective Cooperation - Reconciling U.S. Extended Deterrence, Iran’s Security Concerns, and the Goal of a WMD/DVs Free Zone
In recent years, the United States has sought to bolster its regional security arrangements by means of massive arms transfers to its Arab partners and Israel, as well as an increased presence of naval and air forces in the Gulf region. While it would seem that these measures have had a reassuring and restraining effect on Washington’s allies, they have also served to accentuate Iran’s threat perceptions, thus contributing to an increased level of security competition in and around the Gulf. In this Policy Brief, we examine the logic of the United States’ strategy for regional security provision, its main pillars, and its impact on Iran’s security concerns within the overall context of the envisaged Helsinki Process for a zone free of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems in the Middle East. We then highlight opportunities for selective cooperation between the two main protagonists in the smoldering nuclear crisis. By proposing a number of concrete measures designed to lower tensions without alienating the United States’ regional allies or increasing the likelihood of additional proliferation attempts, we seek to outline an incremental path towards a less polarized regional security architecture that is compatible with the long-term goal of a WMD/DVs Free Zone.
Religious Fundamentalism as an Obstacle to Peace in the Middle East - Under What Conditions Might Pragmatism Prevail?
Religious fundamentalists have in several instances served as barriers to the peaceful conclusion of disputes in the Middle East, especially in the framework of the peace process in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. As a consequence and irrespective of the specific definition of fundamentalism, these groups can constitute in various countries a substantial hurdle for any arms control initiative such as the upcoming Middle East Conference (MEC). This gathering, planned for late 2012, is to deal with the establishment of a zone free of all kinds of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and their delivery vehicles (DVs). Achieving a successful and sustainable outcome at the MEC could be hampered by a host of problems, one of which is the difficult role that religious fundamentalism could possibly play in undermining this initiative. Hence, this Policy Brief provides decision makers and practitioners with information on these presumably ‘negative’ actors, drawn from case studies covering various fundamentalist groups within the Middle East and beyond. These recommendations are based on the key finding that, contrary to mainstream expectations, the major players can behave pragmatically, provided they are acting in favorable circumstances.
The Arab Spring - Its Impact on the Region and on the Middle East Conference
The transformations broadly grouped under the term Arab Spring have shaken the foundations of a variety of Middle East regimes. This Policy Brief provides an overview of different cases where changes of and within the regime have taken place, as well as yet unsolved situations, with a view to the upcoming Middle East Conference.
Although the lack of progress in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict as well as the international debate over the Iranian nuclear program are still contentious issues, the Arab Spring uprisings and their aftermath may provide a new context in which arms control initiatives could be more successful.It is too optimistic to think that existing dilemmas can be easily resolved in this new and changing environment, but the Arab Spring may provide strong momentum for change.
For the Facilitator of the Middle East Conference and his team the following factors should form a checklist of issues requiring immediate attention: how domestic events positively or negatively affect the decisions of involved actors; which countries are to take a leading and constructive role in the MEC process; how to benefit from a more visible Arab League; and finally, the Facilitator and his team should not ignore those countries which so far have not been affected by the Arab Spring but which will nevertheless be important for the Middle East Conference process.
Among delivery systems, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) constitute the latest military technology available. They offer new military options, but also new challenges in terms of their implications for politics and confl ict in the Middle East. In this Policy Brief, we argue that the establishment of a WMD/DVs Free Zone in the Middle East is effective only if all regional states agree on restrictions regarding the development and use of UAVs, since they could be capable of carrying nuclear, biological, or chemical weapons. We therefore strongly encourage Middle Eastern states and external powers to bring the issue of the control of UAVs on the agenda of the Middle East Conference. In this Policy Brief, we take stock of various regulations which directly or indirectly address the UAV problématique. We do so by evaluating existing arms control regulations, export controls, transparency as well as confidence- and securitybuilding measures. Based on these insights, we make recommendations on how to deal with armed unmanned aerial vehicles at the Middle East Conference and propose feasible first steps in the field of UAV normbuilding and arms control.
Yemen and the Middle East Conference - The Challenge of Failing States and Transnational Terrorism
Although the debate of the Middle East Conference is dominated by major regional actors, Yemen’s domestic crisis is of concern for its success. Despite not being the focus of significant non-proliferation concerns, it is not clear whether the country has consistently lived up to all its commitments. In addition, Yemen possesses a number of aircraft and missiles which might be used as delivery vehicles for weapons of mass destruction. Moreover, its status as a failing state at a geostrategically sensitive location poses profound challenges to regional and global security. Should Yemen become a failed state, weapons smuggling could increase. The potential access of terrorist groups to chemical weapons could seriously undermine regional and global security. The ongoing tensions in the country’s North also raise the specter of Yemen being drawn into the wider competition over regional influence between Riyadh and Tehran.
Welcome, Mr. Facilitator! - The Track II Community Endorses Ambassador Jaakko Laajava
Within the Academic Peace Orchestra Middle East, experts from the Middle East and beyond have explicitly discussed various questions regarding the role and tasks of the Finnish Facilitator of the 2012 Middle East Conference envisaged by the international community. In this Policy Brief we express the expectations, hopes, concerns, and recommendations of the assembled experts to Ambassador Jaakko Laajava and his team. We all join in supporting him in his efforts to create the political will to make the Middle East Conference happen, successful, and sustainable. The Facilitator will have to deal with a variety of challenges and opportunities. To these we propose some options and recommendations. In general, we encourage the Facilitator to take an active and impartial role during the process that we hope will lead to the establishment of a WMD/DVs Free Zone in the Middle East.
Nuclear Weapon Free Zones and the Nuclear Powers - Lessons for a WMD/DVs Free Zone in the Middle East
The proposal to establish a zone free of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery vehicles in the Middle East poses a variety of challenges. One is the attitude nuclear weapon states are likely to adopt towards the prospective zone. In the past these states played a crucial role in ensuring the success of nuclear weapon free zones (NWFZs) as they can provide the parties to those treaties with negative security assurances, i.e. legal guarantees against nuclear attacks.
Building on Experiences of Mediation in the Arab World - Assessing Positive Conditions for the Middle East Conference
This Policy Brief provides a checklist of factors that increase the chances of success for conducting or facilitating mediation in the Middle East. These guidelines are tested by examining six case studies of recent Middle East mediation efforts as well as by asking whether and how the factors on the checklist influenced the outcomes in each case. The analysis suggests that the checklist helps to identify those circumstances which are conducive to successful mediation. It is thus a tool to aid policy-makers and practitioners in recognizing or creating conditions for successful mediation.
The Reconciliation of Hamas and Fatah - Smoothing the Way to the Middle East Conference by Contributing to Peace and Security in the Region
The 2011 reconciliation agreement between the two major Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah could contribute to reviving the fledgling Middle East peace process. This Policy Brief identifies the platform of the future Palestinian government as the key for linking Palestinian unity and the possible resumption of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Progress on this front could help mitigate regional tensions and therefore enhance prospects for success of the envisaged 2012 Middle East Conference. Any political settlement between Israel and the Palestinians requires the presence of a representative acceptable by both Gaza and the West Bank. As such Palestinian reconciliation is a pre-requisite to achieving peace and security in the region.
Getting the Middle East Conference Started - Opportunities for Israel and Iran to Join the Process
The participation of Israel and Iran, two major conflicting parties in the Middle East, is vital for convening a successful Middle East Conference on a regional zone free of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery vehicles. This Policy Brief presents motivating reasons for both states to join this important international gathering. The authors emphasize opportunities included in the mandate for the planned Middle East Conference and identify key national interests on the part of both countries for participating in the event. This Policy Brief argues that the participation of both Israel and Iran would create a win-win situation not only between these two parties but also for the entire Middle East.
How to Make the Middle East Conference Happen, Successful, and Sustainable - A Conceptual Framework for a Track II Expert Group’s Contribution
The Middle East Conference envisaged by the international community for 2012 is meant to discuss the establishment of a zone free of weapons of mass destruction and of their delivery vehicles. For a classical Track II project like the Academic Peace Orchestra Middle East, this is a historic opportunity to provide timely ideas, concepts, and background information for the relevant addressees in the region, the United Nations, and the embassies, and especially for the Facilitator, Finnish Ambassador Jaakko Laajava, and his staff.