The Middle East needs a new collective security system: Former Spanish FM

Alia Soliman , Monday 24 Mar 2014

Spain's Former Minister of Foreign Affairs discusses this significance of the Arab-Israeli conflict with respect to collective security

Miguel Ángel Moratinos lecturing at the British University in Egypt (Photo:Emad El Farouk)

In a lecture entitled “The Middle East in search of a new collective security system” at the British University in Egypt, Miguel Moratinos, former Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs and former EU envoy to the Middle East, discussed the challenges that face the Middle East’s new collective security system.

Moratinos started his lecture by stating that the Middle East needs to move forward and use a new collective security system that could provide a different approach to solving problems, avoiding conflict, and bringing prosperity and dignity to people living in Middle Eastern states.

The Arab-Israeli conflict obstructs the path to collective security:

“In this part of the world, we have many wars, yet people know how to make peace, Middle Eastern states are pioneers in diplomacy and taught the rest of the world what diplomacy really is” Moratinos stated.

 “They have the capacity to work out any kind of crisis, using diplomacy” Moratinos said.

However, since the establishment of the Israeli state in 1948, the complexity and gravity of the region’s issues have changed.

“To be frank with all of you, due to the Arab-Israeli conflict, it is very hard to search for a new secure collective security system that will benefit of all the parties and nations in the region” Moratinos added.

We must also bear in mind the new events that are taking place around the world that have an effect on this conflict, the Obama administration is fading away and with everything taking place in Crimea and Ukraine, significant actors are giving major attention to these states, this leads to a reduction in the attention given to the Arab-Israeli conflict.

The fact that major actors, particularly the US, are losing interest in this part of the world is a direct result of a change in the American “Oil vs. Security” equation.

“We must understand that no single collective security system could be implemented without establishing peace between Arabs and Israelis first” Moratinos stated. He added that international initiatives such as the Barcelona Process will continue to fail in their desire to improve international relations in the Middle East so long as the Arab-Israeli conflict continues.

The Barcelona Process, or the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership, was created in 1995 as an attempt by European countries to improve their relations with their North African and Middle Eastern neighbors.

Where are we today?

“We are in the so-called “Peace Process” that has had no results until today. Countries in this region are just trying to find a better living for themselves.”

Moratinos stated that his assessment is that we must combine the traditional security concept that was in place in the 20th century and that was used in the Barcelona Process with other new security concepts that are much more important today such as global terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, food security, and water scarcity.

“We must realise that the security threat has changed in the Middle East” Moratinos stated.

“We have to look into the future, where we will be left with two options. One is what we use “business as usual” to describe our continued efforts to solve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. This is risky in my point of view, as there is no possibility for a “two-state solution,” we will then continue to wait and wait” Moratinos explained.

“The second option is the traditional way of negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians. This, of course, will lead to nothing, unless the mentality of both the Israelis and the West is changed.”

“If we wait every year for negotiations to change the status-quo; we will fail and the new security system will fail as well”.

“Nonetheless, diplomacy is there to change the world; it is there to stop the war and this on-going conflict” Moratinos added.

“Therefore, I think it is time for the West to recognise Palestine as a state, this is what will make a difference when negotiating, offering some compromises is what will stop the war,” Moratinos stated.

“We, the European Union, would recognise Palestine with the 1967 borders, and I know that such an announcement would change the situation in the West,” Moratinos said.

One of the issues that are of great importance to the Middle East’s security system is Iran’s nuclear capabilities.

Moratinos asserted that the negotiations regarding this issue should not solely involve the P 5+1 members,

 “It is a must to include Iran and Israel in any of the talks regarding the Middle East. In today’s diplomacy one must negotiate with the enemy”

Other than the use of diplomacy in the new collective security system, Moratinos believes that using economic cooperation and cultural exchange is imperative.

“I do understand that many of the things I mentioned regarding the Arab-Israeli conflict negotiations may be considered “Utopian,” yet I believe a leading state such as Egypt could be able to  launch such a new security system in the region, we have to set the new paradigm for the new security in the region” Morations concluded.

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