Institute of World Affairs

International Programs since 1924

Side By Side or Together?

SIDE BY SIDE OR TOGETHER?

Working for Security, Development & Peace
in Afghanistan and Liberia

A Report on the March 30 & 31, 2007 Workshop “Coordinated Approaches to Security, Development and Peacemaking: Lessons Learned from Afghanistan and Liberia” held by the Centre for Military and Strategic Studies (CMSS), University of Calgary and the Institute of World Affairs (IWA), Washington, D.C.

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Dr. Michael Lund Presents Findings in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

IWA Senior Associate, Dr. Michael Lund, gave two talks recently at a high-level conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The conference was attended by two hundred influential Ethiopians from the government, political parties and civil society. The conference was held to discuss how Ethiopia can build on the Prime Minister’s initial reforms to transition from its top-down political system to a more pluralistic and stable democracy. Lund presented findings from his recent research on how multi-ethnic developing countries can avoid the possible hazards of attempted political transitions, such as political violence, repression, civil war, mass atrocities, and state breakdown. The new President of Ethiopia, Sahle-Work Zewde (the first woman to hold that position), gave the opening speech, and former President of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki, was the conference keynote speaker. Several follow-up activities are planned to build momentum behind the reform effort. About this unusual opportunity, Lund noted, “I’m very grateful I could apply my research on peaceful transitions to help this great and beautiful country of 103 million people at this immensely critical moment in its history!”

Rising Tension in the Gulf Could Have Dire Consequences

There is real fear that the current face-off between Iran and the United States in the Persian Gulf can lead to war. While seemingly unthinkable, as was war in the heart of Europe roughly a century ago, many of the same ingredients are present. The mistrust and hate each side harbors inevitably lead to fear, which can lead to violent confrontation. All that’s necessary is a spark to ignite a destructive conflagration.

Do not underestimate the potential for disaster in the region.  Once again, the antagonists are at it accusing one another of violations of treaties and agreements and finger pointing in all directions. Despite all the reporting about recent events, we still don’t know for certain who is behind the attacks on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman. The US and Israel accuse Iran, who in turn accuses them. The Iranian downing of a US drone has just raised the tension level several degrees.

Perhaps we should examine which countries stand to benefit and which stand to lose from mayhem and escalation of tension in the region.

The list of usual suspects is long, and includes the United States, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Russia, the United Arab Emirates, Israel and France, and to a lesser degree Iraq. These are all key actors with vital strategic, political and economic interests in the Gulf region. They all stand to gain, to a certain extent, from escalating the tension and possibly even going to war. Yes, one more war in the Middle East, regrettably, is a possibility.

Some in the region believe that another war might well provide the American president with a golden opportunity to escape his ever-growing problems at home and deflect attention from the issue of Russian interference in the 2016 elections. Iran too might find that going to war with the ‘Great Satan’ will allow the mullahs to clamp down on those calling for greater reform. Additionally, with substantial war fighting experience in Iraq and Syria, hawks in Tehran might be tempted to put hard learned lessons to the test.

When asked by a reporter on Monday if he thought the United States would be going to war with Iran, President Trump replied, “I hope not.”  Both sides have good reason to be wary.

Anyone with knowledge of the region can guarantee that another violent conflict will be highly destructive and very costly.

Saudi Arabia has been telling anyone willing to listen about the dangers that Iran presents to the stability of the Gulf. The Saudis, along with the United Arab Emirates, see themselves as the only real deterrent to Iranian aspirations in the region, albeit with the US playing a central role.

Russia would like to see the US embroiled in another Mideast conflict because it would further drain US resources and ultimately weaken Washington’s standing in the Middle East, leaving the field wide open for Moscow to step in, as was the case in Syria.

The regime in Israel can only benefit from a US war with Iran because it would relieve political pressure on the current leadership and potentially boost its standing among voters in a new round of elections. And, finally, France is making a killing selling arms to Saudi Arabia and to the UAE, amongst others. According to figures released this week, France’s weapons sales to Saudi Arabia rose 50 percent in 2018 despite the government calling for an end to the “dirty war” in Yemen.

As happened in the Balkans a little over a hundred years ago, a seemingly small incident can set off an unanticipated chain of events with calamitous consequences.

 

Claude Salhani is a regular columnist with The Arab Weekly and a senior associate at the Institute of World Affairs

 

 

Erdogan Looks At Cyprus to Boost Standing In The Polls

There is always potential trouble when rulers sense their position weakening, given the possibility they will resort to drastic measures to divert the public’s attention and boost their standing.

In Turkey’s case, where President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s popularity has been declining for several months, there is a fear among Middle East observers that he may be looking at intervention in Cyprus to serve just such a purpose.

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Tehran Tangled in Web of Disinformation

When the mullahs took control of Iran, they banned dancing, music and much of the social contact between the sexes, among a slew of other activities that are generally considered normal behaviour in the rest of the world.

Since then the situation has somewhat improved, though the country remains very much under the control of the theocracy, which, though somewhat more lenient, continues to frown on anything even remotely resembling what they refer to as “Western decadence.”

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IWA President Hrach Gregorian and Senior Associate George Irani present study on Lebanon’s displaced at ISA meeting in Toronto

IWA President HG and Senior Associate GI present study on Lebanon's displaced at ISA meeting in Toronto.

Peace Through Commerce: Tourism and Development in Eritrea

Forward

Tourism is increasingly becoming recognized as one of the assets towards promoting diversified economic growth and contributing to poverty alleviation efforts, particularly for developing countries. In 2015 alone, the UNWTO also registered that 1,186 million international tourists generated $1,260 billion in the consumption of entertainment, food and drink, accommodation, shopping and other services. Combined with the travel and transport services utilized by nonresident passengers, tourism exports accounted 1.5 trillion in 2015, approximately $4 billion/day. Tourism also accounted for 1 in 11 jobs worldwide, and is recognized as a leading sector that promotes women and youth employment.

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Alliance for Peacebuilding 2017 Annual Conference

Join the Alliance for Peacebuilding from October 11 to 13 at their 2017 Annual Conference in Washington, DC! Each year, the Alliance for Peacebuilding’s Annual Conference gathers together a diverse network of peacebuilders and provides them with the opportunity to share their achievements, insights, and, most importantly, visions for the future of peacebuilding. Early-bird registration for the conference is NOW OPEN through June 30; click here to register for the event. For additional information on the 2017 Annual Conference, including sponsorship opportunities and the opportunity to submit a workshop proposal for consideration, visit the Alliance for Peacebuilding’s website here.

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Off Script with Bruce Johnson: Dr. Gregorian on the chemical attack on innocent civilians in Syria

Children are among the dead following a chemical attack on innocent civilians in Syria. Prof. Hrach Gregorian, the Director of the International Peace and Conflict Resolution Program at American University, weighs in during Off Script with Bruce Johnson.

http://www.wusa9.com/opinion/editorials/off-script/-offscripton9-trump-administration-blames-obama-for-syrian-chemical-attack/428628319

US-Iran Relations in the Trump Era: Back to Confrontation? – Dr. Trita Parsi

“US-Iran Relations in the Trump Era: Back to Confrontation?”

The Institute of World Affairs @ RESOLVE is pleased to invite you to the first in its 2017 program of briefings, featuring:

Dr. Trita Parsi, President, National Iranian American Council

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Michel Aoun: Lebanon’s New President

At last, and after more than a two year wait, the Lebanese parliament has elected former Army General and disputed Prime Minister, Michel Aoun, as the country’s next President.

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