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Here is an extract from a report based on an FCO-led conference back in October (Wilton Park Conference 580: 25-29 October 1999) - "How Best to Bring Lasting Stability to the Gulf?". The report was written by Richard Latter. It provides an insight into the diplomatic perspective, and discusses various suggestions which have been put forward for 'resolving' the situation. Interestingly, it acknowledges that "the view that their [the Iraqi population's] suffering is due to the behaviour of the regime and to misappropriation of resources available under UN-sanctioned oil-for-food arrangements is increasingly contested." However, emphasis on the ethical implications of the sanctions, or recognition of the scale of civilian suffering, is noticeably absent. If anyone would like an electronic copy of the whole 12 pages please let me know today or tomorrow. It includes more discussion of relations among other Gulf States and the US, the US' role in the region, projected economic and commercial developments, implications of political instability, etc. (extract) THE FUTURE OF THE GULF AT CENTURY'S END Richard Latter, November 1999 1 Introduction At the end of the last decade of the Twentieth Century the Gulf region is enjoying a period of stability and relatively low tension which is based upon a system of deterrence established after the 1991 Gulf War. Problems associated with the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), terrorism, and the activities of aggressive regimes have been met with containment policies against Iraq and Iran, forged by Western powers and broadly backed by the governments of the Saudi Arabian peninsula. This 'containment approach' is, however, increasingly criticised internationally not least because related policies are not able to deal with many of the problems which are generating public discontent in the region: the breakdown of Iraqi society and the suffering of Iraq's population; economic problems and a lack of economic reform; a growing mismatch between resources and burgeoning populations; the problems of urbanisation; increasing environmental pollution. There is concern that stability will become increasingly precarious if governments fail to deal with the root causes of continuing inter- and intrastate tensions. While policy adjustment is already occurring, for example the United States' commitment to 'dual containment' has eroded in recent years, many argue that such adjustments need to be made more quickly. There is a growing chorus of comment and advice urging a redirection of Western and US policies and a greater dynamism in Gulf Cooperation Council states' (GCC) deliberations; the nature of the US presence in the Gulf is subject to increasing debate, although it remains broadly supported except in Iraq and Iran. Many urge the West and GCC to adopt a more positive attitude towards change rather than 'continuing their traditional resistance and suspicion'. They also call for efforts to increase the stake of local populations in the process of change. Relations between the region's states will need to be stable if the region is to advance from a balance-of-power paradigm to a more cooperative, collective security-based approach. Indeed, even if this may be desirable and there are those who disagree, the difficult question remains: how to move from the existing situation to a better and more cooperative future? Part of the answer lies in improving confidence and developing perceptions of mutual interest and benefit, not least in the economic arena. Leadership elites in the region need to develop an understanding that security is not an absolute but something which is relational and involving perceived threats; there has to be a recognition of different interests and an acceptance that related accommodations will be required. Many call for a 'vision of transition' to be forged and shared by the region's states; too much policy has been reactive in the past. For the first steps to be taken in this direction, it will be necessary for leaderships to accept that future stability can no longer be rooted in the existing status quo. What are the prospects for this type of adjustment in governments' thinking and consequent policy development? Are there signs that the Gulf region is moving in a new direction as it enters a new century? 2 Interstate Relations Any change of attitudes in the region will not occur at a uniform pace in all countries. History, the nature of states' regimes and their national interests influence both the direction and pace of intellectual debate and of policy-making. Those deciding how best to persuade regimes to be more flexible in their approach to changing circumstances must be mindful of important national differences. Opting for flexibility will pose particular difficulties where states and regimes are perceived by their neighbours to constitute a genuine security threat; Iraq provides the obvious example. Iraq Given the significant US military presence in the region, many argue that Iraq does not constitute an immediate conventional military threat to its neighbours, although concern remains about the country's possible chemical and biological weapons (CBW) capability. In the Arab world, indeed, many perceive Iraq to have been badly treated as a defeated power, pointing to over ten years of economic sanctions and their severe impact on Iraqi society. This said, the regime remains isolated and there are few illusions as to its repressive nature. Nevertheless, the UN sanctions' regime against Iraq is under pressure because of its adverse humanitarian impact on the Iraqi people; the view that their suffering is due to the behaviour of the regime and to misappropriation of resources available under UN-sanctioned oil-for-food arrangements is increasingly contested. Falling population numbers, healthcare and malnutrition problems, possible economic and social breakdown, and the eventual collapse of the state are unlooked-for adverse consequences, many argue, of continued sanctions. Too few incentives are being offered to make cooperation with the United Nations more attractive to the regime. Indeed some argue that continued pressure serves merely to increase the regime's interest: in aggression against its near neighbours, in terrorism, in WMD acquisition. Current policy, they argue, merely fuels current and future radicalism in Iraq. This view is vigorously contested by others who insist that military pressure in combination with sanctions offers the only means to contain an Iraqi regime which is inherently aggressive and revisionist. For them, significant policy change must only occur when the regime in Baghdad changes. Compromise serves only to enable the regime to strengthen its position and to prolong its hold on power. Others believe this policy to be counterproductive; the public hardships caused result in an increase in support for the regime, do not affect the regime itself or key groups which support it. They urge the negotiation of a reintegration of Iraq into the international and regional systems. For this to occur, however, a change in Iraqi leadership attitudes will be required, for example, regarding the future position of the Kurds, cooperation with UN agencies, and indeed the future nature of the country's political system. The Iraqi regime must be committed to normal economic exchanges with its neighbours, to maintaining correct relations with neighbouring states and, in the longer term, to accepting democratic principles and human rights norms. There is little evidence that such change is seriously contemplated in Baghdad. Some observers argue that, notwithstanding a lack of progress on these issues, sanctions should be lifted and diplomatic relations normalised in order to begin to rebuild 'normal' relations with the Iraqi state. These actions would be complemented by a clearly-stated commitment to resort to military action if and when Iraqi actions merited a military response. Another variant of this approach is to lift sanctions while maintaining stringent border monitoring and controls to prevent the import of weapons and WMD-related materials by the Iraqi regime. Arguments have also been advanced in favour of making sanctions 'smarter'; introducing a more selective regime which would reduce the discomfort of the civil population while continuing to restrict the military and other aspirations of the regime itself. Few of these proposals seem likely to be adopted in the near future given the continued opposition of the United States to such proposals, an attitude which is unlikely to change during a US presidential election year. There is little interest in the international community in taking military measures to promote the Iraqi regime's overthrow. Faced with the evident resilience of the regime, more support is being offered by the United States to opposition groups which are committed to Saddam Hussein's overthrow. However, the levels of support made available thus far seem unlikely to bring change in the near term (see below). Many observers expect current UN policies to be continued, notwithstanding the evident unease in the Arab world and the concerns of humanitarian agencies. Few are pressing for radical efforts, whether military or economic, to change the situation. A gradual erosion of sanctions may well occur, but Iraq will remain a pariah in the region for as long as the current regime remains in power. To some degree, the current situation suits neighbouring states which are not threatened by a severely weakened Iraq. Furthermore, international criticism of ongoing policy is generally directed at the United States and has had, as yet, few political consequences for governments in the Gulf region. Only when a regime change occurs will serious consideration be given to other available options. The United States In recent decades the United States has been concerned to maintain a balance-of-power in the Gulf region in order to protect access to oil, a perceived vital US national interest. The dual containment of Iraq and Iran was deemed to be consistent with these goals. Some now take the view that the US needs to focus less on balance-of-power considerations because it is able to deal with regional problems unilaterally. Increasing concerns around the globe about perceived US unilateralism have a particular resonance in the Gulf. This said, the strategic situation in the region has changed: while the regime of Saddam Hussein remains in place in Iraq, Iran is proving to be increasingly moderate as well as taking a more 'nationalist' approach in its foreign policy; the GCC states are threatened more from within than from without; and oil is less of a 'strategic' commodity. For some, it is increasingly unclear whether protection of oil flows from the region continues to be a US 'vital' national interest, given the international nature of the oil industry and multiple sources of supply. Less positively from a US perspective, South Asia has become a region with two newly-emerging nuclear powers, and the success of the Taliban in Afghanistan is regarded as potentially destabilising. Israel appears to be an increasingly important military factor in the region, given the development of long-range air and missile capabilities in states with which it has antagonistic relations. US arms sales in the Gulf remain important but they are falling. In these circumstances, US policy regarding Iraq and Iran is becoming more differentiated. US support for sanctions against Iraq remains firm despite the adverse effects on the country's population and their failure to bring political change or the return of an UNSCOM-type inspection regime to ensure that Iraq is not developing WMD. Continued containment is being supplemented by an overt support for the external Iraqi opposition and by the robust prosecution of no-fly zones and related air attacks against Iraqi military installations. Military training is being given to the opposition, although this does not include combat training; the relatively modest amount of $96 million draw-down on existing DoD funds is involved. The United States is also seeking the indictment of Saddam Hussein and his clique as 'war criminals'. The US insists that while the current regime remains in power, Iraqi oil income must remain under UN control. US forces are likely to remain in the Gulf region at least until the Saddam regime has been replaced. Despite criticisms of these policies in the Middle East, they attract little attention or criticism inside the United States itself. There is some concern about the suffering of the Iraqi people and a recognition by the Administration that something will have to be done, or seen to be done, to alleviate their situation. Foreign criticisms of US policy are likely to persist, based upon various lines of argument, for example: that training of Iraqi opposition groups could generate problems akin to those associated with the 'contra scandal' or the training of forces which were to emerge as the Taliban. Others are concerned that any indictment of the Iraqi regime simply precludes any possibility for their cooperating with the international community. Others contest this view, arguing that such action is consistent with an evolution of international law which reflects a growing unwillingness to accept gross abuses of human rights by leaders against their citizens. Greater urgency is required in considering how best to address the internal problems affecting Gulf states. Even if interstate relations continue to be manageable, economic, social and internal political pressures may yet give rise to instability in the region. 4 Conclusions At the end of the Twentieth Century much is occurring which is positive in the Gulf region. Relations between most Arab states and Iran are improving and the atmospherics of regional politics have greatly improved since the 1980s and early 1990s. Two striking problems remain: an isolated Iraq, whose eventual re-emergence as a regional actor will have profound implications, for good or ill, for regional security; and the changing demographic, economic and social conditions affecting the region which will affect fundamentally the region's future political evolution. How these problems will be resolved will become clear only as the next century progresses. They cast a veil of uncertainty across the region's future. What can be said today, with confidence, is that they must be resolved successfully if a more peaceful Twenty-first Century for the Gulf is to follow the tumult and violence of the Twentieth Century. List of Participants AL-AKKAS, Abdulmuhsin: Saudi Research and Marketing Group, Riyadh AL-MALKI, Moza: University of Qatar, Doha AL-MANI, Saleh: King Saud University, Riyadh AL-MASKERY, Saif Bin Hashil: Consultative Council of the GCC, Muscat AL-SHEHABI, Saeed: Gulf Cultural Club; Al Aalam Publications Ltd, London AMNEUS, Henrik: Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Stockholm BAABOOD, Abdulla: University of Cambridge, Cambridge BORG, Erik: Swedish National Defence Radio Institute, Bromma DOYLE, Chris: Council for the Advancement of Arab-British Understanding (CAABU), London EL-SAYED SAID, Mohamed: Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, Cairo ELLEHĜJ, Martin: Royal Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Copenhagen FARAH, Geili: Embassy of the State of Qatar, London FUNDER, Nanna: Danish Defence Staff, Copenhagen GOZNEY, Richard: Cabinet Office, London HARARI, Michael: Embassy of Israel, London HARRIS, Anthony: Robert Fleming & Co Ltd, London HETHERINGTON, Martin: Foreign and Commonwealth Office, London HOGSBRO, Christian: Danish Defence Staff, Copenhagen HOLLIS, Rosemary: Royal Institute of International Affairs, London HORAK, Dennis: Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Ottawa JOHAR, Hasan: National Assembly of Kuwait, Safat KAPISZEWSKI, Andrzej: Jagiellonian University, Krakow KHONSARI, Mehrdad: Senior Research Consultant, Centre for Arab and Iranian Studies, London KLOMP, Marije: Ministry of Foreign Affairs, The Hague LATTER, Richard: Wilton Park, Steyning MABRO, Robert: Oxford Institute for Energy Studies, Oxford MALEKI, Abbas: International Institute for Caspian Studies, Tehran McDONNELL, Jonathan: I B Tauris & Company, London MOOSA, Hassan: Gulf Cultural Club, London ORHUN, Ömür: Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ankara PAN, Wei Fang: Chinese Embassy, London POLLOCK, David: Department of State, Washington DC RATHMELL, Andrew: King's College, University of London RAZOUQI, Ahmad: Embassy of the State of Kuwait, London REMBE, Malena: Swedish National Board of Police, Stockholm SAKR, Naomi: University of Westminster, London SAYYAR, Waheed Mubarak: Bahrain Embassy, London SHABANI, Reza: BBC Monitoring, Reading SICK, Gary: 'Gulf 2000', New York SINGH, Jasjit: Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, New Delhi SUNDE, John: Department of Foreign Affairs, Pretoria van BOSHEIDE, Henk: Ministry of Defence, The Hague YAPHE, Judith: National Defense University, Washington DC ZANKL, Peter: George C Marshall European Center for Security Studies, Garmisch-Partenkirchen -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------- This is a discussion list run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq For removal from list, email firstname.lastname@example.org Full archive and list instructions are available from the CASI website: http://welcome.to/casi