Arabs Need to Take Initiative

  • 1 April 2015

With the many challenges and crises facing the Middle East region, Arab coordination and taking the initiative will be key in confronting and addressing those challenges.

Those were some of the points raised on the second day of the 20th annual conference of the Emirates Centre for Strategic Studies and Research (ECSSR) on Wednesday, which discussed the political landscape and strategic balances in the Middle East.

Professor Abdullah Al Shayji, of the Department of Political Science, Kuwait University, emphasised that Arabs would need to start taking the initiatives, citing Storm of Resolve as one example.

The professor highlighted how failed policies in the region, coupled with the failed policies of international leaders such as former US President George W. Bush, along with current President Barack Obama, were all contributing factors in unleashing several of the problems the Middle East faces today.

He argued that these failures in policies is what led to the weakening of Arab states, allowing other regional powers to come in and take advantage of the situation, and that Arabs need to stand and be counted in order to gain influence and strike a counterbalance.

According to the professor, the unified Arab operation launched in Yemen took many regional and international powers by surprise, and proved that Arabs could coordinate with each other, showing professionalism and dedication, sending a strong message that Arabs are able to handle issues by themselves without the need of American policing.

Sectarianism will also have to be avoided, with moderate Sunnis and Shiites having to work with each other, and to rid extremists of their sectarian narrative, according to the professor. He also added that the sectarian conflict and divisions in the Middle East were the root cause of a lot of the problems being faced in the Middle East, as well as leading to the weakening of Arab states.

Similar views were shared by one of the other panellists, Professor Ahmad Yousuf Ahmad, Professor of Political Science at Cairo University, who said that the worsening situation in the Middle East could lead to opportunities, allowing the Arab League to work together in coming up with better solutions, also citing Storm of Resolve Operation as an example of this.

Military intervention alone, though, would not be enough, according to Professor Yousuf, with the underlying causes having to be addressed and tackled, as well as putting an infrastructure in place that would allow for progress and stability.