Saturday, May 26, 2018

Charity Groups Fighting for Civil, Human, and Environmental Rights

It's Easy: Set Up a Monthly Donation

This morning, my Facebook feed is blowing up over a Huffington Post article about the immigrant kids being separated from their parents at ages as young as 53 months.  For additional information about the situation see here (agency that lost 1500 kids says it is not "legally responsible" for finding them),  here (history of policy),here (Trump blames Democrats for the lost kids), and here (SWOPE's fact check: True).

Many people want to know how they can help support resistance to this and other Trump administration policies affecting civil, human, and environmental rights.

I put together a list of charity groups that support gun law reform.  I post it after every mass or school shooting,  So, in the same vein and with the same purpose,  I am creating this list of organizations that work to protect civil, human, and environmental rights.  If I need to add an organization to the list, please let me know. 

Please donate a monthly amount to the groups of your choice.  I make an automatic payment to five organizations.  Easy.  Put your money where your mouth (or FB outrage) is.   Love all of you.

Here are the donation pages for the leading organizations:

Friday, May 25, 2018

UAE, not to be Out-Done by Qatar, has Finally Passed a New Arbitration Law

More Modern Arbitration Laws for the Arab Gulf

GAR reports that the United Arab Emirates has issued its long-awaited self-standing arbitration law, based on the UNCITRAL Model Law.  The Arabic version of the the law is found here.  In this post, I am reproducing the GAR story with a few edits.

His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the president of the UAE, issued Federal Law No. 6 of 2018 yesterday, after it was approved by his cabinet of ministers in February.

It repeals and replaces the previous UAE arbitration law, contained within a chapter of the UAE Civil Procedures Law No. 11 of 1992.

The new law will apply to all arbitral proceedings, including both domestic and international proceedings.  Its 61 articles include:

  • articulation of the principles of separability and competence-competence; 
  • power for arbitral tribunals and courts to order interim and conservatory measures relating to ongoing or potential arbitrations, with no waiver of the right to arbitrate if they are issued by the court; 
  • clarification of the competent court and its powers; 
  • confirmation that electronic writings satisfy the requirement that the arbitration clause be in writing; 
  • rules ensuring the enforceability of interim and partial awards; and 
  • the requirement that requests for annulment must be initiated within 30 days of notification of the award to the parties, with clarification that they do not automatically stay enforcement proceedings.

The law also says that the UAE's minster of economy will coordinate with the arbitration institutions of the UAE to issue a charter on the professional conduct of arbitrators.

Essam Al Tamimi, senior partner at Al Tamimi & Co in Dubai says, “this state-of-the-art arbitration law will fortify the UAE’s position as the leading seat in the MENA region. It is a landmark law that is the best arbitration law in the region."

Thomas Snider, partner and head of arbitration at Al Tamimi & Co, says that “with this new law, the UAE has achieved a critical milestone in fostering arbitration as a leading and reliable form of dispute resolution for all types of commercial and construction disputes in the country.”

Mohammed El Ghatit, founder and co-managing partner of OGH Legal in Dubai, tells GAR he first heard talk of a new arbitration law in 2006, the year the UAE
acceded to the New York Convention, and that for the country to finally issue one [several drafts later] is a “fantastic achievement.”

He says there have been a few “minor changes” to the draft law adopted by the cabinet in February. For example, in that draft, an order for the enforcement of an award was not subject to appeal, though an order rejecting recognition and enforcement was. In the final version, both types of order can be appealed. The final version also prohibits members of the boards of arbitral institutions, or their administrative staff, from acting as arbitrators in cases administered by their
institution. This prohibition did not appear in the previous version.

Qatar passed a modern arbitration law in February 2017, making it one of the few countries in the Arab world with a modern arbitration law that would be familiar to European and American companies working in the region.  An English version of the law appears here.  I understand some problems may exist with the translation, but I do not know enough about the law to point out the language with possible traps.  Another translation appears here.

A summary of its key points appears here.  More commentary about the Qatari law here, here, and here.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

The 12th Al Jazeera Forum: Session 7 - Where is the Gulf Headed?

Political Stability or a New Wave of Change?

On April 28-29, 2018, Al Jazeera held its 12th Forum providing an opportunity for leading scholars and other experts to discuss a variety of topics affecting the Arab world.  The website for the forum, @aljazeeraform, provides additional information and links to the videos of each session.  You can follow the Twitter coverage at #AJForum.

As I noted in my first post in this series, I am working from my notes, so I apologize in advance if I incorrectly paraphrase the remarks of any speaker. I was also reliant on the quality of the translation services and their audibility. Therefore, I am happy to make any needed edits to this summary.

For summaries of the other sessions see:
Session 7: Prospective Scenarios Facing the Middle East

Session focus:

This session will review the key ideas discussed in prior sessions from a futuristic perspective.  Where is the Gulf Crisis headed to?  Could the "deal of the century" be a fair solution to and permanent settlement for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?

On what basis will the countries destroyed by wars and internal conflicts -- like Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and Libya -- be rebuilt if the current regional and international enterprises persist?  Could the countries that witness crisis and social tension maintain their political stability or are we headed toward a new wave of change?

How can the expected scenarios be dealt with?  Will the region develop its own vision for the future or will the region continue to be directed by foreign interests and agendas?

  • Moderator: Mohammed Cherkaoui, Professor of Conflict Resolution and Peacebuilding at George Mason University's School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution and member of the Center for Narrative and Conflict Resolution.
  • Basheer Nafi, Professor of Middle East History and Senior Researcher at Al Jazeera Centre for Studies.
  • Mohamed Jemil Ould Mansour, Chairman of the National Rally for Reform and Development in Mauritania (Tawassoul).
  • Abdul Aziz Al Ishaq, Qatari journalist at Al Rayn and Columnist at Saqr Magazine.
  • Saif Eddin Abdel Fattah, Professor of Political Science specializing in Political Theory and Islamic Political Thought.
Key points:

Basheer Nafi:  The blockade of Qatar by Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain, and Egypt will end, but perhaps not until the end of the year. Created a crisis of trust and confidence.  Reflects US policy in the region.  Iran remains a central concern.

Three factors in play in the region:
  • The regional backlash or counter-revolution is at a stalemate.  It stopped democratization of regional governments. 
  • The Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  No one expected this move by the Trump administration and the Palestinian factions did not plan for it.

No one can lead the region through effective alliances.  They are waiting for a new system.  But, it will lead to conflict and instability.

Countires untouched by the Arab Spring have tried to find alliances among themselves and launched counter-revolutions.  But, they could not provide solutions for the people, so the underlying grievances remain.  So, Egypt, Yemen, and Syria are worse off than before the Arab Spring.

At no time previously has the region been this volatile.

Mohamed Jemil Ould Mansour:  Agrees that the region is volatile.  We cannot predict the future.  Nonetheless, the speaker says:
  • The Gulf crisis did not achieve the goals of the countries starting the blockade.  Qatar found options and created new alliances.  The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) is now form over content.
  • The "deal of the century" promised by Trump for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict may unfold in stages.
  • The crisis in Yemen, Libya, and Syria reflects the interference of outside actors with complicated solutions.
  • The counter-revolutions were a failed response to the Arab Spring revolutions.
  • The Arab world is "empty."  Instead, you see the influence of Israeli [?], Iran, and Turkey.  Creating a "triangle" of influence.

Abdul Aziz Al Ishaq:  Until April 2017, a diplomatic process existed among the countries of the Gulf.  Will the blockade persist?  If it does, then the "gloomy triangle" of influence evolves into a square with the fourth side now represented by the interference of other countries.

Qatar/Iran relationship exists, but is not as strong as the Qatar/Turkey relationship.   

Crisis will end.  The GCC should persist to:
  • support US security.
  • counter Iran.
  • resolve small problems with unity among six countries. 
  • increase relationships between people in affected countries.
  • prop up rulers' legitimacy.

Formal solution to the blockade:  International pressure that focuses countries on the Iranian threat through:
  • a summit.
  • GCC sub-committee creating outreach.
But, the countries will compete perpetually. 

Real solution needed that restore the status quo ante that existed prior to the blockade.  International guarantees from the US, Russia, Europe, or Turkey to ensure a lasting solution.  Should prevent re-occurrence of the blockade.

Saudi Arabia sees Qatar as threat to its legitimacy.

Gulf countries have no real integration, like a common currency.

Inter-GCC conflict may lead to war in Lebanon or Jordan.  Splits conflicts in the region.

The Arab Spring started in Tunisia and will end in the Gulf.

Saif Eddin Abdel Fattah:  A need exists to shape the future.  Three changes have affected the region.  First, the Arab Spring revolutions.  People waited a long time for those events.  Second, the counter-revolutions or backlash occurred.  Third, the underlying factors that led to the revolutions still exist.  Thus, change is inevitable.

Speaker notes that "The Middle East" is not an Arab term.  It reflects the position of the region in relationship to other parts of the world, especially Western powers.

Regional systems are experiencing conflict.  This conflict is evidence of the ongoing move towards change.

After the Arab Spring, "regimes started to tremble."

Speaker calls for a "strategic vision."

"Deal of the century" is not in the interest of the region or its people.  Will meet with strong resistance.  Currently, Palestinians are staging protests every Friday.  The deal sets a bad precedent for other groups subject to colonization.

The Qatar blockade represents "big countries trying to smother a small country."


Arabs have a hard time seeing the Iranian invasion of Iraq and Syria and its support for Houthi rebels in Yemen as innocent.

Iran expanded into Iraq without any cost.  US bore the cost.

West cannot constrain Iran with military intervention.  But, it can limit the flow of dollars into the country.

Turkey is "manufacturing" status by identifying foreign policy opportunities.

Turkey cannot act as a balancing factor to those who opposed the Arab Spring.

Qatar and Turkey can be the center of an alliance that protects the will of the Arab people.

Monday, May 21, 2018

The 12th Al Jazeera Forum: Session 6 - The Media During Times of Crisis

Responsibility of Combatants: 
Don't Kill Journalists!

On April 28-29, 2018, Al Jazeera held its 12th Forum providing an opportunity for leading scholars and other experts to discuss a variety of topics affecting the Arab world.  The website for the forum, @aljazeeraform, provides additional information and links to the videos of each session.  You can follow the Twitter coverage at #AJForum.

As I noted in my first post in this series, I am working from my notes, so I apologize in advance if I incorrectly paraphrase the remarks of any speaker. I was also reliant on the quality of the translation services and their audibility. Therefore, I am happy to make any needed edits to this summary.

For summaries of the other sessions see:
Session 6: The Media During Times of Crisis and Transitional Stages

Session focus:

While the media covers crises, conflicts, and wars; narrates events and puts their developments and trajectories into frameworks; and relays the perspectives of parties involve[d] in them; it also sheds light on the human dimension.  This is the core of humanitarian work.

The politicization of media usually exacerbates crises and conflicts, especially if news fabrication is applied to create an artificial political situation that conflicts with reality in order to impact political positions, decisions, and courses.  This in turn threatens security, peace and stability, and negatively affects human conditions.

What are the key purposes of the media during crises, conflicts, and wars?  What are the relevant values that govern media and humanitarian work?


  • Yehia Ghanem, Managing Editor of Al-Ahram International and Supervisor of Arab Reporters for Investigative Journalism Network (ARIJ).
  • Purnaka de Silva, Director of the Institute for Strategic Studies and Democracy (ISSD) in Malta.
  • Elsadig Ibrahim Ahmed Ibrahim, President of the Sudanese Journalists General Union.
  • Abdulwaheed Odusile, President of the Federation of African Journalists (FAJ) and the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ).
  • John Yearwood, Director of the Executive Board of the International Press Institute (IPI) and President and CEO of Yearwood Media Group. 
Key points:

Yehia Ghanem:  Al Jazeera redefined media in the region.  Prior to 1996, all media was state controlled.  From 1996 to 2001, it redefined disasters to include natural and man-made.  Focused on the humanitarian aspects of the disasters.  From 2001 to 2007, it began expressing the feeling of the "world against us (Arabs)."  Began with the Afghanistan war.  Made its resources open to all parties.  Focused on the horrors experienced by the people with field work rather than news room work.  Focused on people away from the power centers. 

Western media depicted Arabs and Africans as people to fear.  But, Al Jazeera looked at the economic, political, and social experiences of people in these regions, while showing the role the West had in creating the situations there.

By having bureaus in these regions, it had more access to the evolving stories. 

Purnaka de Silva:  Media impacts policy-making.  Provides a voice for the voiceless.  Shows suffering and the victims of human rights crimes.

No political will exists to de-escalate and de-militarize in the region.  To humanize.  Absence of diplomacy in the Gulf dispute.  Would hope the GCC family could set aside the disputes.

Media becomes essential to settling these disputes.

Showed a map of the routes for human trafficking.  Spoke of his suspicions that the mafia has seized control of the immigration facilities in Sicily and may be using the vulnerability of the people to force organ donations.  Journalists noticed that immigrants were asked to take blood tests before arrival and that the organ transplant center nearby expanded in 2011. Too dangerous to do further investigation.

Elsadig Ibrahim Ahmed Ibrahim:  East Africa has been given a very dark media image.

Abdulwaheed Odusile:  [I apologize to this speaker and the prior speaker for losing my concentration and having few, if any notes, about their presentations.]

John Yearwood:  In conflict zones, certain responsibilities exist.

For combatants, the rules are:
  • Don't kill journalists!
  • Respect the Geneva Convention on press access.
  • Respect the role of journalists.
  • Don't make journalists afraid to cover a story (e.g. ISIS beheading of a journalist).
For journalists:
  • Don't choose sides.
  • Be fair and accurate.

For public:
  • Push media to report fairly and accurately.
  • When that is not happening, report the gap and demonstrate for better reporting.

The 12th Al Jazeera Forum: Session 5 - Palestine and the "Deal of the Century"

Two-State Solution, Long Dead, is Now Buried

On April 28-29, 2018, Al Jazeera held its 12th Forum providing an opportunity for leading scholars and other experts to discuss a variety of topics affecting the Arab world.  The website for the forum, @aljazeeraform, provides additional information and links to the videos of each session.  You can follow the Twitter coverage at #AJForum.

As I noted in my first post in this series, I am working from my notes, so I apologize in advance if I incorrectly paraphrase the remarks of any speaker. I was also reliant on the quality of the translation services and their audibility. Therefore, I am happy to make any needed edits to this summary.

For summaries of the other sessions see:
Session 5: The Palestinian Cause following the US Recognition of Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel and the "Deal of the Century"

Session focus:

U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to declare Jerusalem the capital of Israel led to a wave of popular resentment, provided a new push in diplomacy and reintroduced the Palestinian cause to debate on the Arab and Islamic fronts and at the level of regional and global organizations and agencies.  The Palestinian cause has always been the central cause for Arabs and has dominated Arab policies and shaped Arab relations with others for decades.  It seemed that interest in this cause had deteriorated amid the Arab Spring and the various regional crises.  However, it has now returned to the surface under the title "the deal of the century."  With it, all of the portfolios that had not been resolved by negotiations since Oslo and Madrid have been reopened.  What are the ramifications of the U.S. decision on Jerusalem?  How will this decision affect the issues of peace, Jerusalem, refugees, and the two-sate solution?  What are the nature and limits of the roles played by the parties involved in the arrangements of this "deal of the century"?

Background and context for readers:

  • General history of conflict: here
  • Trump's decision to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem: here.
  • Palestinian cause:  here.
  • Deal of the century: here, here, here, and here.
  • Oslo accords of 1993: here.
  • Madrid conference of 1991: here.
  • Arab Peace Initiative of March 2002: here.
  • Two-state solution: here.
  • Jewish settlements in the West Bank: here.
  • Recent developments: here.
  • Ilan Pappe, Director of the European Centre for Palestine Studies at the University of Exeter.
  • Mohsen Saleh, Director General of Al-Zaytouna Center for Studies in Beruit.
  • Hani Al-Masri, Director General and Co-Founder of the Palestinian center for Policy Research and Strategic Studies (Masarat).
  • Sari Orabi, Writer and Researcher in Arab and Islamic Affairs (via satellite).
  • Ibrahim Fraihat, Professor on International Conflict Resolution at the Doha Institute for Graduate Studies and Georgetown University.
Key points:

Ilan Pappe:  Anything new in US policy?  If so, how is it significant?  Speaker does not see Trump move as a significant deviation from prior policy.  US Policy is based on three principles:
  • The US is the only possible mediator.
  • The US is a biased broker for peace.
  • Any two-state solution is the one envisioned by Israel.
    • No capital for Palestine in Jerusalem.
    • No right of return.
    • Israeli control. 
US agrees that international law applies, but then accepts colonization of the West Bank. It now recognizes violations of international law, but needs to protect Israel. 

US embassy move is a symbolic burial of the two-state solution that has been dead for many years.  It is OK to bury an idea that does not work.  May end US hegemony of policy.

Is it good?  No, very dangerous.  Will lead to unrest in Gaza, ongoing colonization, and increased Palestinian suffering.

But, embassy move and its underlying policy could create new opportunities.

US policy misinterprets the real reason for the conflict:
  • Zionism underlies the settler colonial movement.
    • Must eliminate indigenous population.
    • Must eliminate their political power.
US has not dealt with the essence of the situation.  Afraid to be called anti-Semitic.

Real solution lies in a one-state system with combined democratic system.
  • Will take time to achieve.
  • Use the South African model against apartheid.
    • 50 percent of Palestinians are younger than 17.
    • Women can play a bigger role, too. 

Mohsen Saleh: "Strategy of reviving a dead horse."  No benefit.  Horse is dead.  Alternative: Dismount; leave.

Oslo accords failed.  Palestinian authority (PA) serves the interests of the occupier.  "Five star colonial rule."  Cannot do anything for the Palestinian people. Israel has control of the West Bank with 800,000 settlers.  Framework lost its value.

Trump move settles the question for all in favor of Israelis.  Reflects weak leadership in the PA and Arab world.  PLO is marginalized.  No development for 25 years.

Helpless against "deal of the century."  Other Arab leaders focusing resources on other issues.  

"Deal" is a revision of prior strategy.  Pathway included normalization of relations with Arab nations.

Marketed as a business deal, but peace without meeting the demands of  Palestinians about sovereignty.  Does not meet minimum demands of Palestinians, so deal must be imposed by force.

240 projects over 70 years tried to be imposed on Palestinians.  They also failed.  This one will, too, without rebuilding of Palestinian leadership role.

Do not expect Trump to impose his will.  Palestinians should stand firm.  Accept sacrifices on long road to social justice. 

Hani Al-Masri:  "Deal" not presented officially.  Is an adoption of the Israeli view.  Does not reflect the needs of Palestinians.

Some settlements will be removed.  But, do not dismiss Palestinian state.  [My notes on the next statements are poor.] Discussing some sort of autonomy with Gaza as the head of Palestinian power.  Ramala and PA imposing will on Gaza and thereby liquidating Palestinian opposition by Hamas.

Need agreement on national agenda for Palestinians.  Need to find reconciliation among factions.

Palestinians in a strategic defensive position, not a strategic balance.

Palestinians should try to benefit from multi-polar situation with Russia and China creating counter-weights to US influence in region. 

All Palestinian factions reject the Trump deal. "Poison in the honey" has no benefit.

Without political partnership, Hamas cannot go further. 

Sari Orabi:  Trump is creating an investment/carrot environment.  

Israel feels heat of Arab public opinion, even if Arab states are normalizing relations.  Public wants to live in dignity in their own countries.

"Deal" will likely fail.

Rejection by the PA likely, but not sure if unity exists among Palestinians.  Gaza can't shoulder responsibility for peaceful protest when Palestinians are divided.  Need national Palestinian reconciliation. 

Ibrahim Fraihat:  Happening at the 100 year anniversary of the Balfour agreement.  Several other countries intend to move their embassies to Jerusalem, including Guatemala, Honduras, Paraguay, and the Czech Republic. 

"Deal" undermines the Arab peace initiative of 2002.  

No point to negotiation over "deal." Israel got what it wanted on a gold tray.

Q&A Session:  Two-state solution assumed a "peace camp" existed inside Israel politics, whose members would negotiate with Palestine.  None existed.  See voting record of Israelis.

Israel has succeeded.  Now need to preserve status quo.

Palestinians would compromise, but it becomes a trap.  

International community does not support a two-state solution, even if its politicians do.

Israel controls all of Palestine.  One-state solution is an apartheid model.  Palestinians face a long struggle to decolonize and democratize region.  A shorter road takes Palestinians to the wrong destiny.

American "deal" does not target Hamas or Fatah, but targets all Palestinians.

Palestinian state can occur with negotiation. 

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Week 14: Completing the Last Sections of the Memorandum of Law

Time with my Students is Coming to an End

We have long semesters at Qatar University College of Law.  It means that we are all very exhausted by the last week of the semester.  This year, the Ramadan fast adds another dimension to the challenges of teaching this last week.

I am trying to make it a little easier for students to complete all the sections of the Memorandum of Law that I have taught them to write this semester. They have analyzed the use of the same name, Azul Marine Supply, and a similar trademark in connection with two marine supply shops.  They have used two Qatari trademark cases and several sections of the Qatari code to complete their analysis.  They have listened to and summarized a meeting with the partner, a client interview, and an interview of a confused consumer.  They have learned to brief cases.   They have also learned to conduct legal research in two databases, including Westlaw Gulf.   I have also required them to keep all the handouts in an organized folder.  

This week we will write the Caption, Facts, and Brief Answers of the memo. 

This course challenges students in many ways.  They work across languages and legal cultures.  They struggle with the shift from description to analogic reasoning.  They test my high expectations.  Some try to cheat.  In the end, we teach a skill set and a mindset that I know they will use throughout their careers. 

To my students with nearly perfect attendance records, thank you for you dedication to the course and to your learning.

To my students who turned in all the assignments, bravo!  That alone is a big accomplishment.

To my students who have earned perfect or nearly perfect scores on all the assessments, congratulations on your progress to earning a high grade in the course.

To my students who managed busy lives filled with a job and a family, I admire your time management skills and your desire to get your college degree.

I hope all of you will stop by my office when you are back on campus, either next semester or after graduation.  I want to hear your stories of success.

Know that I care deeply about you and wish you the very best. 

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

12th Al Jazeera Forum: Session 4 - Changing Alliances in the Region

Where is the Middle East Heading?

On April 28-29, 2018, Al Jazeera held its 12th Forum providing an opportunity for leading scholars and other experts to discuss a variety of topics affecting the Arab world.  The website for the forum, @aljazeeraform, provides additional information and links to the videos of each session.  You can follow the Twitter coverage at #AJForum.

As I noted in my first post in this series, I am working from my notes, so I apologize in advance if I incorrectly paraphrase the remarks of any speaker. I was also reliant on the quality of the translation services and their audibility. Therefore, I am happy to make any needed edits to this summary.

For summaries of the other sessions see:
Session 4: The Middle East Amid Changing Regional and Global Alliances

Session focus:

The crises and conflicts that erupted during the past numbers of years -- with the Gulf crisis being the most recent -- cover almost the entire Middle East, creating a high level of political and strategic liquidity.  Accordingly, relations between the region's countries have witnessed great changes, thus reshaping the features of the general scene and forming regional and global alliances that will not settle on a final form in the near future.  Rapid changes rocking the Middle East hinder stability, increase sources of threat, and make current regional and global alliances temporary and fragile arrangements open to all options.  Where is the Middle East heading amid these transformations and changing alliances?


  • Abdullah Al Shayji, Chairman of the Department of Political Science at Kuwait University.
  • Galip Dalay, Research Director at Al Sharq Forum and Senior Associate Fellow at Al Jazeera Centre for Studies.
  • Mohamad Hosam Hafez, Assistant Professor at the College of Law at Qatar University.
  • Elahe Kolaie, Professor of Political Science and the Director of the Central Eurasia Research Department Centre at the University of Tehran.
  • Leonid Issaev, Senior Lecturer at the Department of Political Science at the National Research University Higher School of Economics, Moscow. 
Key points:

Abdullah Al Shayji:  Even though 400 million Arabs exist, power does not reside in their hands.  They engage in little joint action.

America's retreat from the region during the Obama administration was very disappointing.  It allowed the increasing role of Russia.

A cold war between Iran and Saudi Arabia started when the Saudi embassy was attacked in 2016.   [See here and here for more information. And, this video does a good job explaining the cold war and the proxy wars in the region.  It suggests this rivalry began much earlier than 2016.]  

Iran claims to control the capitals of four Arab countries. 

Some people hope that Salman's rise to King of Saudi Arabia, Trump's election, and the formation of a 40 country Arab union could be a new beginning for the region.  But, that hope was dashed when members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)  turned on Qatar and imposed a blockade. 

Until recently, the GCC served as a model for Arab unity.  It served as a leader.  But that is no longer true and its diminished situation is "very painful" for Arabs.  

Turkey, Russia, and Iran, rather than Arabs, are controlling the future of Syria. 

Trump has made the situation more complex.  He is the first American president outside the political establishment.  He is "moody" and "transactional."  He creates a lot of concern among regional political leaders.

The US presence in the Gulf costs American taxpayers nothing.  But, Trump wants the region to pay more for its security.  

In comparison, Israel costs US taxpayers $3 billion [a year].  Moving the embassy to Jerusalem adds insult to injury.  

The US is now producing more oil than Saudi Arabia.  But, the world still needs stability in the Arab world.

It is not likely that North Korea will denuclearize.  Iran is watching.  Where is the nuclear deal heading?
  • US withdrawal from the deal could be the "best, worst option" because it does not cover ballistic missiles, geopolitical expansion, or Iran's support for terrorism.
  • Alarm bells should ring in the Arab world. War is possible. 

Turkey and Iran both have national ambitions that extend beyond their borders.  What about Arab ambitions?

A new Middle Eastern order may emerge, but Arabs will be weaker.  Many Arab countries are fragile or failed states not capable of delivering services to their people.  

Galip Dalay:

Speaker has seen a shift to discourse about "national security," but it covers a "regional or network security," too. 

Yet, this push creates regional insecurity because by imposing demands on a neighbor to bolster a country's security, the second country impinges on the sovereignty of the first country.

Who is a terrorist?
  • In some countries, including Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Syria, the term covers political opposition.  Thus, the war on terror is problematic.
Alliances driven by fear rather than a shared vision:
  • The authoritarian group: Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain, Egypt, Israel, and US via Trump.
    • Drive for a new regional order because the Arab Spring created regime anxiety.
    • Political Islam is deemed an intolerable "other."
    • But, national security depends on US.
  • Iranian network:  Asad's Syria, Hezbollah, Iraqi government, and Houthi government.
    • More coherence.
    • More network security.
      • But creating more regional backlash with more instability.
  • Turkey & Qatar:
    • Supported Arab Spring.
    • Qatar must now focus on its own national security instead of its foreign policy.
Each group is exclusive of the other groups.  So, they create more instability with counter-responses.

They are all trying to maximize their own national security or network security.

The challenge is to turn network security into regional security.

Mohamad Hosam Hafez:  When the post-World War boundaries of Arab countries were drawn, the Arab people were not consulted.  These boundaries laid the seeds of conflict.  Most of the state boundaries are not validated by international law.

  • New way of dealing with existing countries.
  • Non-state actors.
Alliances between countries are fragile and prone to change.
  • Temporary understandings.
  • Not creating long-term alliances to serve joint interests.
  • Even though GCC was a promising model, current events undermining it to the point of breaking it up or marginalizing its role in the region. 
Democracy should support people and allow them an easier way to change leaders.  But, post-Arab Spring, we saw governments blocking the actions of the people seeking change.  Cannot ignore people's desires.  They were political actors, despite counter-revolution. 

Even alliances in Syria seem short-term with Russia exploiting resources of oil and phosphate. 

Non-state actors:  If a strong security alliance had existed in Syria, ISIS would not have found a weakness to enter.

Elahe Kolaie: Arms race has occurred in the Arab region.  It has become an important purchaser of weapons in the last decade. 

States in the region do not use soft power effectively through dialogue and direct interaction.  Enhancing diplomatic actions would benefit everyone.

Democratization is an important issue.  Could change the dynamics of power politics.

US policy deprives Iran of the mutual benefits of the the region through expanded relationships with neighboring countries on both Eastern and Western borders.  It could serve as a stabilizing force, but that has been a missed opportunity. 

Iran seeks a regional dialogue. 

Leonid Issaev: The region is undergoing a reconfiguration.  The previous order collapsed after the 2011 Arab Spring.

New rules of the game and security architectures exist.  Question is whether they are created within the region or by outside actors.

Regional actors need to create agenda for region.  Policy now is very personalized. States tend to solve problems in most radical ways.

Global actors are not that interested in solving the problems of the Middle East.  That's a problem.
  • See Yemen humanitarian crisis.  Just try to organize an event about it, and the room will be empty.
  • Russians are not interested in discussing Middle East problems unless they have a nexus with US policy or actions.

Instead, global actors will use Middle East conflicts to serve their own interests.

No focus exists on reconciliation or disarmament.

Russians achieved short-term gains for Syrian regime, but no long-term gains for Syrian people.

No one outside the region has any solution for the Middle East problems, and they cannot create order in the region. 

Q & A:

Mood now reflects Iran's move towards hegemony at the expense of Arabs.  Iran is playing a negative role in the region.  May put other countries at risk.

In the absence of political leadership and a robust civil society, who can solve problems of the region?

Summary: Disorder.  Iranian intervention. Turkey's ambition.

Iran quickly sent snipers and weapons into Syria.  Hard to see Iran's interventions in Syria as enhancing regional security.

In the middle of a big turmoil, can we produce a new generation of problem-solvers?  Probably not.  They are raised by expat maids, [over]use technology, and have no dreams or aspirations. [Ouch.]

US is trying to impose tough diplomacy in connection with the Iranian nuclear deal.  

Syria is now split in four zones:  American, Russian, Iranian, and Turkish.  Does this represent the new paradigm in the Middle East?