The Confederation of Abraham

A Proposal for a Super-Optimum (Win-Win) Solution for Peace in the Middle East

by

Peter A. Zuckerman


Table of Contents

Confederation of Abraham Proposal

Bibliography

Appendix A: Validating the Super-Optimum Solution

Appendix B: Which World? — Scenarios for the Future of the Arab World

Appendix C: Arab Ideas for Shaping the Future


Confederation of Abraham Proposal

Beyond the Gulf Crisis

The end of the Gulf Crisis marked the beginning of new problems. Ten years after the expulsion of Iraq from Kuwait the region remains unstable. The Gulf war and its aftermath caused massive damage to the economies and infrastructures of the countries involved. The destruction was compounded by the exodus of refugees and the catastrophic environmental devastation of the region. Future threats are continuing to emerge. Particular concerns include the continued lack of economic and social development, and the rise of religious fundamentalism. The breakdown of the previous balance of power in the Gulf region could lead to further destabilization. The only certainty is the need for the emergence of a new Middle East after the conclusion of hostilities in the region.

The implementation of Palestinian self-rule following the agreement between the PLO and Israel is promising. But this favorable event is counterbalanced to some extent by the civil war in the Sudan, and the continuation of fundamentalist violence in Algeria.

All too often wars cause new enmities and hatreds, unless preventive actions are taken. A militant brand of anti-Western Islam threatens to disrupt the needed cooperation with the technologically advanced developed countries. An Islam vs. Christianity confrontation would be very damaging to both parties. The transfer of modern technology and financial aid from the West is essential to the economic and social development of the region. Without leadership and direction to achieve the needed goals, the Arab World is threatened with continued decline. Can the moderate Arab countries, with the United States and its allies win the peace?

The region is remaining unstable, because of the lack of a unified Arab-dominated security organization. Without this desirable structure two other arrangements are in place:

Neither of these alternatives are truly beneficial to the Arab World. American influence may be the least harmful, but will still be resented. In the past Iran, Turkey and the former Soviet Union pursued policies that tended to dominate or disunite the Arab Nation. For the Arab World to regain fully its dignity, self-esteem and confidence, it is imperative that a New Human Order for the Middle East be established on Arab terms. It is essential that the Arab World to be fully in control of its independence and destiny. The moderate Arab governments can provide the moral and political leadership in reaching this highly desirable goal. President Hosni Mubarak's proposal, offering to make the Middle East a zone free from all types of weapons of mass destruction, is an example of the type of leadership needed.

The trend toward successful peace negotiations between the Arab countries and Israel may remove some of the tensions of the region. However, peace negotiations only tend to be fruitful when the parties involved can visualize an outcome where their long-term interests are mutually satisfied. The results of the peace process to date do not offer much hope for reaching true peace. No simple formulas -- like "peace for land" -- are likely to bring enduring peace, if they do not also solve or alleviate the numerous other problems of the Arab World.

It is vitally important to convert the aftermath of the disaster in the Gulf region into a new beginning for a restored Arab World, finally able to come to terms with its past and shape its successful future. A long-term, carefully thought out solution must replace short-term expedients. The time will be ripe for new, imaginative political and economic initiatives in the region. Moderate Arab leadership will have an opportunity to gain great credibility by solving the problems that hampered progress in the Arab World. But partial solutions are not likely to succeed. Only a comprehensive approach to the numerous political, economic, social and other problems of the region will be effective. With the proper leadership, a new beginning could emerge -- new ideas, new systems of government and new approaches to tolerance and cooperation.

The Importance of Human Development

The recently published Human Development Report 1999 continues to highlight the problems and opportunities of the Arab World. Prepared under the auspices of the United Nations Development Program, the report used a comprehensive set of statistics and indicators that allowed the making of comparisons among the 174 countries listed. A ranking of the countries is based on the Human Development Index, which is a composite of the gross domestic product, life expectancy and educational attainment.

The twenty Arab countries listed generally have a low ranking according to the Index. The oil-producing Gulf states rank from the 35th (Kuwait) to the 78th (Saudi Arabia) position. Out of the 174 states listed only six Arab countries were in the upper half, while fourteen were in the lower half in the rankings of the Human Development Index.

The insufficient attention given to economic, social and political development is the principal cause of the relative low ranking of the Arab countries. But the 1992 Human Development Report also pointed out that at least ten of the Arab states "have a considerable potential to improve their human development levels -- by spending their incomes better and planning their investment priorities more wisely."

The ranking of Israel in the 23rd position validates this statement. The Arabs have the Semitic culture, geographical environment, climate and natural resources comparable to what is possessed by Israel. The economic help given to Israel is matched by the oil wealth of the Arab World. There is no reason why the Arab Nation could not reach a much higher level of economic and human development through the right set of policies and programs.

The Need for an Arab Solution

Arabs speak a common language, most profess Islam as their religion, remember a shared history of greatness and power, and have governments and institutions -- such as the Arab League -- that acclaim the unity of the Arab Nation. But a tendency to enmity creates obstacles to joint action, and generates quarrels among countries that ought to cooperate with each other. The lack of cooperation in coordinating their economies and foreign policies makes the Arab World an area of strife, drawing in foreign powers and destabilizing the entire region.

The problems of the Arab World continue to worsen. A population growth rate of 3 percent annually begins to create shortages of food, water and arable land. The emerging crisis over water resources is especially troubling. Industrial development is lacking. Per capita income in most Arab countries is low. But the low income is further impaired by the wide disparity between the rich and the poor Arab countries. The inadequate rate of economic development is made worse by the continuing brain drain of tens of thousands of professionals.

The attached table "Arab World Economic Development" summarizes these conditions. The ranking of the members of the Arab League indicates that only the six oil producing countries have a Gross National Product (GNP) comparable to the developed nations. The sixteen other Arab countries show low values for the key indicators of GNP and life expectancy of their populations. To reach a reasonable level of economic development the current GNPs would have to increase very significantly.


Concerned Arabs and sympathizers recognize these problems and freely offer the needed remedies. But until recently the mindset of the Arab political leadership concentrated on the wrong solution -- militarism and armaments. Thus the Arab World was the leading importer of military equipment and weapons systems. During the past decades over $750 billion were spent for military purposes. The fear and distrust created by these huge armies contributed to hostilities, and prevented badly needed cooperation among the Arab countries. The longstanding and deeply rooted habits of violent politics is a principal cause of the lack of progress. The development of nonviolent politics -- based on the moral values of Islam that favor peace over war and conciliation over violence -- is needed for the pacification and development of the Arab World.

The Iraq-Iran war, and the destruction resulting from the Iraq vs. United States confrontation clearly prove that militarism and armaments are not the solutions -- they are the problem. The right solution includes the Western European model of creating a common market for cooperation in economic development. In the emerging European Union the component nation-states in the past engaged in destructive wars, until finally they learned the benefits of economic and political teamwork.

Pan-Arabism based on uniting the Arab Nation through violence and force is not workable, as shown by the invasion of Kuwait. But Pan-Arabism based on peaceful and voluntary cooperation is becoming increasingly urgent. The special conditions of the Arab World require the creation of a new mindset of working together for a better tomorrow, through the resolution of ancient enmities and hostilities. The Arabs, as the original followers of Islam, also have a moral obligation to create a peaceful future, where the economic and social development of the Third World -- with its large Muslim population -- can continue and even accelerate.

A Super-Optimum (Win-Win) Solution

Super-optimum solutions are innovative alternatives to political, economic and other policy problems, where the contending parties come out ahead of their initial best expectations.

There are several techniques available for reaching super-optimum solutions. Higher goals can be set than what was considered previously the best, while still preserving realism. Resources available can be expanded. Arrangements can be made for one side to receive big benefits, while the other side incurs only small costs. Alternatives that are not mutually exclusive can be combined. Sources of conflicts among the parties involved can be decreased or removed. Ultimately a set of superior alternatives can be developed that can satisfy the several sides of a complex conflict. The Appendix provides additional explanation of this new approach to overcome conflict among nations, organizations and even individuals.

There is already a successful super-optimum solution that benefited some of the countries of the region. The Camp David Accords of 1989 was a classic super-optimum solution, where Egypt, Israel, the United States and everybody involved came out ahead of their original best expectations. An even better super-optimum solution is feasible with the right attitudes of the countries and ethnic groups that stand to benefit from the new ideas.

Needs of the Super-Optimum Solution Participants

The needs of the various parties involved must be met. Since we are looking for a comprehensive solution, all the countries in and around the Arab World must be considered. This involves not only Israel, but also the industrialized world and the developing countries that need a reliable source of oil from the Gulf.

The Arab World. The people and countries of the Arab World need political and economic independence, and gradual social development toward democracy and human rights. Especially it is important to replace enmities and animosities with a spirit of cooperation and sharing. Only then can the problems be addressed with sufficient energy and resources. The tendency to war and violence must be checked and reduced.

The Saudi Arabian policy of partially demilitarizing the country and avoiding the creation of a large army must be extended to the entire Arab World. The resumption of the previous arms race must be prevented. The Western and other arms suppliers must be stopped from selling their armaments and weapons to the countries in the region. The economic resources of the Arab World instead must be used to develop the economies and infrastructure of the countries involved. By giving up the reliance on armaments and militarism, vast resources will be available for industrial and agricultural development, expansion of water supplies, improvements to the educational and health systems, and other needs of developing countries. Equally important for the Arab World is the reaching of a balance between the conflicting claims of an "Arab Nation" and the claims of the more localized loyalties of each country based on geography and history. Finally, the newly emerging Arab Nation must feel that it is in control of its own destiny, and does not need superpower support, except at its own terms.

The Palestinians need their own state, to eliminate their powerlessness, and enable them to have the needed improvement of their living standards. Fortunately, this process has been initiated with the self-government of the West Bank and Gaza.

Israel needs to be relieved of the crushing burden of defense expenditures. The economic development of the nation will require cooperating with the neighboring countries on the common problems of the region.

Non-Arab Minorities. Such non-Arab minorities as the Kurds, Berbers, Black Sudanese, Lebanese and Coptic Christians must retain their cultural identity, while they remain part of the new Arab World.

A Peace Confederation for the Arab World

Armies and weapons are weakening the Arab World. The endless flow of armaments to the region merely served to create fears and hatreds, and war after war. After the flow of vast petrodollars to the Arab World most of the ordinary Arabs are no better off than before. Meanwhile, much of the world continues to improve its economy and society. The industrial powers of Europe and Asia are bypassing the Arab World. In another 20 years the petroleum reserves will be exhausted, or will be made superfluous by new energy technologies. If present trends continue, there will be 300 million Arabs occupying a depleted agricultural base, perennially short of water and food.

Since war and militarism are not the solution, then peace must be the answer. A new social invention is proposed, designed to overcome the problems and take advantage of the opportunities of the Arab World. The idea of a "peace confederation" is especially appropriate for the countries of the Middle East -- the Arab countries and Israel.

A Peace Confederation is a decentralized union of countries related culturally, religiously, geographically or economically, for achieving political and economic cooperation. Such confederations could established for reducing the danger of war and the burden of armaments, and for securing the benefits of cooperative economic and political development. The European Union has emerged as a successful example of such a union.

Because the proposed Peace Confederation is to embrace all the countries within the Arab World -- including Israel -- the name Confederation of Abraham is proposed, to symbolize the common spiritual ancestry claimed by Muslims, Christians and Jews living in the area.

The Confederation of Abraham would not only bring peace to the Middle East, but could also initiate the change of the fragmented Arab World into a new Arab Nation. Israel, with its Jewish population culturally and biologically closely related to Arabs can serve as a catalyst in this process.

Following the European Union Model

The currently fragmented Arab World should follow the example of the European Union. For centuries such countries as the United Kingdom, Germany, France and many others engaged in continuous economic, political and military warfare. The terrible cost and ultimate futility of these actions finally led to an institutional framework of economic and political cooperation.

A peace agreement between Israel and Palestine could be the start of establishing the Confederation of Abraham. The issues of territorial boundaries, the status of the Palestinian refugees, Israeli settlements and Jerusalem can be resolved more generously within the framework of a peace confederation. Because of its large Palestinian refugee population, Jordan would have to be involved in the peace process. Accordingly the Confederation of Abraham would be started as a trilateral confederation among these three nations -- Israel, Jordan and Palestine.

Following the establishment of the Confederation a mutually satisfactory peace treaty between Syria and Israel could be achieved. Then Syria and Lebanon would join the Confederation. The European Union similarly started with only six countries. Gradually other nations joined, and the process is continuing.

The next phase would have the participation of Egypt and some of the Gulf states, after meeting the conditions of participation. Ultimately all the countries of the Arab League would participate, transforming the fragmented Arab World into a great Arab Nation, similar to what existed many centuries before.

This restored Arab Nation would accept Israel and other ethnic groups existing within its existing boundaries. By definition a great nation (similar to the United States, for example), has the following characteristics:

The Confederation of Abraham, once established, would ensure the economic and social development of its members. The Confederation would also become a major force for human development and progress.

Structure of the Peace Confederation

Governmental powers will belong to the component countries. Only those powers specifically delegated will be under the jurisdiction of the Confederation. The governing institutions would follow the example of the European Union, modified to meet the special conditions of the region.

There must be a sharing of oil income, to reduce the differences between the rich and the poor states. As much as 25% of the oil revenues should be set aside for a development fund for the needy countries of the Confederation. A Middle East development bank could be established for this purpose. Similarly, water resource development and sharing agreements must be established, to make a just allocation of this vital resource. A "peace water pipeline" to carry water from Turkish rivers to the Arabian Peninsula would offer a real opportunity for regional cooperation. Building and improving the transportation and communications infrastructure would facilitate economic cooperation. Opening up markets and increasing trade exchanges would consolidate economic interdependence. Tourism and the tourist industry could bring increased revenues to the region.

The industrial and agricultural development programs, water supply and irrigation projects, and the general development of the economy -- including the service sector -- will gradually solve the problems of insufficient jobs and unemployment. The stabilizing of the societies involved would also significantly increase investments in the economy by the United States and Europe. Conditions will be created to reverse the brain drain, and make the needed progress in the scientific and technical fields.

The improvement of the economy will be favorable to political and social development as well. A gradual process of democratization -- under constitutional monarchies or republican forms of governments -- will take place. The status of women will gradually improve, as the expanded economy will require the participation of women in the professions and in the work force.

The Role of Israel

Special attention has to be given to the role of Israel in the Confederation of Abraham. An independent Palestine must emerge in the Occupied Territories and coexist with Israel. In exchange, Israel will provide valuable "unity services" to the new Confederation:

Resolving Territorial Disputes

The establishment of the Confederation will be followed quickly by the resolution of the major territorial disputes. Israel's participation in the Confederation of Abraham ensures that an independent Palestinian state will be established on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The Golan Heights will be returned to Syria. The civil war in the Sudan can be resolved by granting cultural autonomy to the non-Arab minorities. Other conflicts in countries such as Algeria can be resolved by the mediation of the Confederation.

The status of Jerusalem needs to be readjusted. The City of Peace will become not only the capital of Israel and Palestine, but also will offer extra-territorial privileges to the Islamic, Christian and Jewish holy places, and some Confederation and United Nations activities.

The Problem of Non-Arab Minorities

The existence of the several minorities in the Arab World also requires special attention. Millions of Kurds, Black Sudanese, Berbers and others want to have their culture and traditions maintained. Many Palestinians now living as refugees will be allowed to return to Israel under plans for family reunions. Many others may be unable to return to Israel and will have to be settled in the new Palestinian state. Other Palestinians may choose to be absorbed in the economies of their host countries, still retaining their identities as Palestinians. (Of course, financial and other compensation will be given for loss of properties.) The legal establishment of dual citizenship will solve the problem of cultural or ethnic identification.

Dual Citizenship

The Confederation will formally establish the idea that adherence to a culture or civilization may be separated from living in a country and participating in its economy. In the Confederation anyone can claim dual citizenship. Thus Kurds living in Iraq can choose to have a Kurdish cultural citizenship, but must have Iraqi economic citizenship. They will have the privilege of gaining a Kurdish education and culture, and full participation in the Iraqi economy. Essentially, they gain the benefits of independence, without disrupting the existing borders of the countries through unacceptable secession. Culturally they would form a union with their fellow Kurds in Syria, and eventually also those in Iran and Turkey.

Palestinians will be able to gain a similar cultural unity. A common Palestinian culture and education will be available to Palestinians who live outside Palestine, whether in Israel, Jordan or elsewhere.

The problem of the settlements in the West Bank could also be solved through dual citizenship. Israelis choosing to live in the West Bank would be required to have Palestinian economic citizenship, but can enjoy the cultural citizenship of Israel.

Besides the Palestinians and the Kurds other minorities, such as Coptic Christians, African Sudanese, Berbers, the Druze, and others may want to have separate, non-Arabic cultural citizenship within the Confederation. This will ensure the position of the Arab majority, and simultaneously reduce inter-cultural rivalries and conflicts.

Benefits of the Peace Confederation

Establishing the Confederation of Abraham will bring substantial benefits to all concerned. These benefits make this into a true super-optimum, win-win solution.

Bringing About the Confederation

A time of crisis and upheaval often provides opportunities for radical, but beneficial change. The resolution of the Gulf Crisis may offer a similar occasion to make progress in the affairs of the Arab World.

The Confederation can be established when the major Arab countries involved accept it as the basis of the future relations of the region. A time table of specific actions can be prepared. The total withdrawal of the allied military forces from the region can be completed at the earliest possible time. The various institutions and agencies can be set up and funded. Israel can be invited to join the Confederation in the roles suggested above. While outside powers must not be involved in the setting up of the Confederation, they can be requested to guarantee the eventual territorial settlements. Within one year the Confederation of Abraham can be a functioning entity.

A cultural and spiritual revival of the restored Arab Nation would be the natural outcome of the Confederation of Abraham. The Confederation also would serve as a model for overcoming the futile struggles and hostilities that hamper human progress throughout the Third World. The evolution of a more tolerant and peaceful world would be facilitated, where the now wasted resources on excessive armaments could be applied to the meeting of human needs.

Downsizing the war institution and abolishing militarism would enable the shifting of resources to economic and social development, and the solving of environmental problems that now begin to threaten human survival. Scientific and technological progress promises a continuing improvement of the human condition, provided we move from a mindset of hatreds and enmities to that of amity and cooperation. The countries within the Confederation of Abraham -- the place of origin of several of the world's great religions -- could provide the moral force needed to achieve this vital objective of human survival.


Bibliography

Halim Barakat, The Arab World: Society, Culture and State (The University of California Press, 1993)

Steven J. Brams and Alan D. Taylor, The Win-Win Solution, (W.W. Norton & Company, 1999)

Allen Hammond, Which World? — Global Destinies, Regional Choices (Island Press/Shearwater Books, 1998)

Arieh Hess, Trilateral Confederation: A New Political Vision for Peace (Israel/Palestine Center for Research and Information, 1999)

Immanuel Kant, Perpetual Peace and Other Essays (Hackett Publishing Company, 1983)

Geoffrey Kemp and Robert E. Harkavy, Strategic Geography and the Changing Middle East (Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 1997)

Stuart S. Nagel, Policy Analysis Methods and Super-Optimum Solutions (Nova Science Publishers, 1994)

Peter Stalker, Oxford Handbook of the World (Oxford University Press, 2000)

Peter A. Zuckerman, Beyond the Holocaust: Survival or Extinction? (Human Progress Network, 1996)


APPENDIX A

Validating the Super-Optimum Solution

The idea of resolving peacefully the many problems of the Arab World has much emotional appeal. In the past, the mindset of Arab culture tended to resist solutions based on mutual cooperation and the full acceptance of the Christian and Jewish minorities -- dhimmis -- as equals. In the aftermath of the enormous losses suffered -- in human lives, physical destruction, uprooting of populations -- the Arab political system needs to be infused with new ideas, based on a realistic view of the Middle East and the rest of the world. Ultimately, a change of the Arab mindset toward full cooperation and acceptance of minorities will achieve the revival of the Arab World.

The Confederation of Abraham is an attempt to reach a feasible super-optimum solution, where most parties of a dispute come out ahead of their best expectations. To prove the validity of the proposed solution, it is necessary to compare it to the other likely alternatives, in a standard and quantifiable way. Such a comparative model should list the major objectives to be achieved, the most likely political alternatives, and probability measurements of achieving the major objectives under each alternative system. Following this approach, the peace confederation option -- the Confederation of Abraham -- gains by far the highest total value, because it would resolve most of the problems that hinder the progress of the Arab World.

The attached table "Middle East/Arab World -- Policy Alternatives" is constructed as follows:

A. The various political and security systems that are emerging after the Gulf Crisis are listed. These include the following possibilities:

B. The eleven goals represent the most significant objectives of the inhabitants of the region, and of the other countries that have economic and political relations with the Arab World:

Domestic tranquility is essential to the resolution of differences and the development of the economies and societies of the various countries.

Peaceful external relations are needed for economic development and the reduction of military expenditures.

Preventing outside domination is to ensure that the development of the region will benefit its inhabitants instead of outsiders.

Reduction of military expenditures will provide the funds for economic development.

Increasing religious observance is needed to counteract trends toward excessive materialism that may result from prosperity.

Increasing economic development is crucial to satisfying the unmet human needs of much of the Arab world.

Increasing social development is needed for gaining political stability and the elevation of the status of women.

Developing water resources is essential to satisfy the need for a growing population and the industrialization of the region.

Reliable oil supplies will provide much of the resources needed for economic development. Further benefits will be obtained through participation in a growing world economy fueled by the petroleum energy source.

Assistance to the developing world will be secured through continuing growth of the world economy made possible by reversing the arms race.

Reducing terrorism is required to eliminate the negative image caused by this counter-productive activity.

The table organizes the policy options and goals. Each goal is assigned a percentage weight factor based on the perceived importance of the goal. For example, increasing economic development gets a high weight of 20, while the weight of only 2 assigned to reducing terrorism reflects the minor importance of the activity.

A subjective value is assigned to each combination of policy option and goal. For the sake of simplicity only the values of 1 to 4 are assigned, with 4 being the best value for the goal, and 1 the worst, with 2 and 3 in between. For example, the rivalries of the existing political system give a low value of 1 to the reduction of military expenditures. In contrast, the peace confederation option would eliminate the rivalries, and yields a high value of 4 in the reduction of military expenditures.

The next step involves the adjustment of each percentage weight assigned to a given goal by the subjective value of reaching that goal under a given policy option. For example, an increasing economic development value of 2 results in a 40 adjusted weight of that goal.

Finally, the individual policy action/goal adjusted weights are summarized, to yield a total measurement for the policy option. Using the methodology, the higher the summarized measurement, the better the policy option. (The highest possible total is 400.) The fundamentalist reform option produces the lowest result, because its anti-West bias would hinder the badly needed economic and infrastructure development of the Arab World. Conversely, the peace confederation option gains the highest total result, because it achieves most of the objectives of the people living in and around the Arab World.

Middle East/Arab World -- Policy Alternatives

Goals------------------> Domestic Tranquility Peaceful External Relations Preventing Outside Domination Reduction of Military Expenditures Increasing Religious Observance Increasing Economic Development Increasing Social Development Developing Water Resources Reliable Oil Supplies Assistance to Third World Reducing Terrorism Summary
Weight Factors----->

8

10

10

10

10

20

8

8

8

6

2

100

Policy Options

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

1. Existing Political System

3

2

2

1

3

2

2

2

3

2

2

24

----Adjusted weight

24

20

20

10

30

40

16

16

24

12

4

216

2. Fundamentalist Reform

2

1

3

1

4

1

1

1

2

1

1

18

----Adjusted weight

16

10

30

10

40

20

8

8

16

6

2

166

3. Secular Reform

2

2

2

2

2

3

3

2

3

1

2

24

----Adjusted weight

16

20

20

20

20

60

24

16

24

6

4

230

4. U.S. Security System

2

3

1

2

2

2

2

2

3

2

2

23

----Adjusted weight

16

30

10

20

20

40

16

16

24

12

4

208

5. Peace Confederation

4

4

4

4

3

4

4

4

4

4

3

42

----Adjusted weight

32

40

40

40

30

80

32

32

32

24

6

388

Note: Numerical values of 1 to 4 are assigned to each combination of Policy Options and Goals.

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

/\/\/\

Estimated value ratings: 1 = Poor

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

Best option

- 2 = Fair

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

- 3 = Good

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

- 4 = Excellent

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-


APPENDIX B

Which World?

Scenarios for the Future of the Arab World

The recently published Which World? -- Scenarios for the 21st Century by Allen Hammond provides strong support for the establishment of the Confederation of Abraham. The book is one of the results of a five-year research effort, the 2050 Project (organized by the Brookings Institution, the Santa Fe Institute and the World Resources Institute). The summary of the research is available on the Internet at http://www.hf.caltech.edu/whichworld.

Scenarios about the future are based on the emerging and anticipated interactions of demographic, economic, technological, environmental, social, cultural, political and other factors that are likely to shape global trends. The 2050 Project was an attempt to forecast likely outcomes of major global trends by the middle of the 21st century. Extensive unbiased intellectual contributions and statistical data were obtained from scholars and international organizations.

Three conflicting world views were summarized in three scenarios for the world as a whole. Nine major continental regions were also identified, and provided with the three scenarios modified for their special conditions. One of these regions is "North Africa and the Middle East," which contains most of the Arab World.

Following are the three scenarios:

Market World reflects a vision of the future that is widely held today. It assumes that free markets, private enterprise and global market integration are the best way to increase prosperity and improve human welfare. Economic reform, privatization and deregulation are, in this view, the key to the future.

Fortress World, on the other hand, focuses on the potential of unattended social and environmental problems and the growing gap between rich and poor to diminish social progress and doom hundreds of millions of people to lives of poverty and deprivation. It foresees the likelihood of widespread degradation, social instability, rising conflict -- and the possibility of violence and chaos, of a world divided against itself.

Transformed World is an optimistic vision of the future, one in which social and political -- as well as economic -- reforms create a better life, not just a wealthier one. It assumes that human ingenuity and compassion can extend opportunity to all of humanity. And it points to tentative changes, already underway, that may presage such a transformation.

Which of the three scenarios will dominate our world depends on two factors: critical trends and the actions of concerned individuals and organizations. The critical trends include demographic, economic, technological, environmental, security, social and political. But ultimately human and social development, shaped by governments and their populations, will determine which world will be inherited by future generations.

Chapters of the book summarize the critical trends and potential scenarios applicable to the nine regions. The industrial regions of North America, Europe and Japan are anticipated to continue their world leadership under the Market World and the Transformed World scenarios. But the Fortress World scenario would result in their decline.

Five of the other regions -- Latin America; China/Southeast Asia; India; Sub-Saharan Africa; Russia/Eastern Europe -- are likely to experience similar scenarios. Improvement of their conditions under the Market World and Transformed World scenarios, and decline with the Fortress World scenario.

The North Africa and Middle East region has only two options: decline under the Fortress World scenario, and progress under the Transformed World scenario. Following are the summations of the options:

North Africa/Middle East: Market World

No Market World scenario exists

For most of the North African and Middle East region, a Market World scenario would stretch plausibility, as things now stand. Too many governments fear the loss of control that might come from opening their countries to the West and joining the global economy. Fundamentalist Islamic factions would oppose such policies. Yet without such a global link, countries in the region will find it very difficult to modernize their economies, gain access to advanced technology (other than weaponry), and create enough jobs for their rapidly expanding and youthful populations.

North Africa/Middle East: Fortress World

Most governments in the region refuse to engage Islamic groups in democratic processes, reinforcing radical tendencies, but are also doing little to improve economic and social conditions. Islamic culture itself makes difficult the creating of progress in raising the status of women or effecting other social changes that touch the family. Most countries subsidize water prices, encouraging wasteful use. In short, the region is drifting in a dangerous direction. A potential outcome could be the violent overthrow of governments by radical forces, resulting in economic and social decline throughout the region.

North Africa/Middle East: Transformed World

The region could become a dynamic player in the global economy. Combining moderate Islamic beliefs and social traditions with modern economic aspirations and approaches could create an entrepreneurial boom. Such political events as the success of the peace process between Israel and its neighbors and the rapid integration into the Israeli economy of the new state of Palestine and of Jordan are also feasible. With the welfare and income of Palestinians skyrocketing, even Syria would abandon its hostility and with Lebanon join what would became the Middle East common market -- and one of the world's centers of high-tech startups and innovative technology.

Obtaining huge funding from the oil-producing Arab states, the United States and the European Union could provide the resources for developing the infrastructure and economies of the region. Combining this with political and social development would easily transform the region, including the Arab World, able to meet the challenges of the 21st century.

The attached table "Forecast of Human Development by Regions" is somewhat disparaging to the Arab World. Both the positive and negative scenarios are probable -- but the middle ground of the Market World is excluded as a potential for the future. But, to quote from the relevant chapter of the Which World? it could be changed with the right attitude:

"Admittedly, there is relatively little evidence of enlightened and moderate leadership within the region. Violence regularly stalls the Middle East peace process. But the region has numerous strengths.

Markets are not a new idea: the Arab world has a long tradition of shrewd trading. And if current global trends of supply and demand for oil persist, then prices are likely to rise sharply within a decade or so and the value of the region's oil might easily double or triple. The extra cash, if invested, could become a powerful font of venture capital for the region. Likewise if the technical expertise and entrepreneurial experience of Israel could be tapped throughout the whole region -- to use scarce water resources more efficiently, to create new export businesses -- then rapid growth is not out of the question."

Conclusion

Implementing the Confederation of Abraham proposal would result in the revival of the Arab Nation and contribute to the Transformed World for our entire planet. This successful example for overcoming hostilities and strife would not only restore the greatness of the Arab Nation, but would also considerably advance human survival and progress.

Forecast of Human Development by Regions


APPENDIX C

Arab Ideas for Shaping the Future

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Arab View

The Internet Home of Independent Arab Opinions

Will we grab a ride on the 21st century train?

Khaled Al Maeena, Editor-in-Chief, Arab News

(Source: http://www.arab.net/arabview/articles/maeena62.html)

Today is the last day of the century and millennium. It has been a time of great change for mankind. The world has witnessed forces that have twisted and turned it beyond all recognition.

The last 50 years have been especially astonishing. At the turn of the century there were many skeptics and even those among the most shining intellects, who failed to foresee developments that are now an integral part of modern life. In their early days, the motor car, the radio and the television were all scoffed at by industry experts. Today these seem to be almost old-fashioned inventions when compared to the computer, which many believe is the greatest invention of the 20th century. Add to this a long list of complicated gadgets like the mobile phone, the microwave oven and the CD player, which we all take for granted. Truly the world is now advanced and this century has seen the peak of its advancement.

The digital world has changed our lives. It has brought us into contact with people the world over. Voices met video, met words, met our imagination. We could see, feel and even touch and marvel at the spirit of our fellow human beings. The world has become a truly global village. But it was a painful trip. Almost no century of the millennium went by without being blotted by bloodshed. This was especially so in the greatest of them all the 20th century. Two World Wars, European wars, Asian wars, the dropping of bombs that killed horrifically, were all testaments to man’s inhumanity.

In terms of inventions, events, philosophies, revolutions and ideas, this was truly a remarkable century. During these 100 years, great minds and individuals were produced. Freedom came though in spurts. The Western world, as it was called, moved ahead. Captains of business and industry using brains, wealth and the right people, galvanized the economy. They became more powerful than governments. In America, Bill Gates became a phenomenon. His reach extended further than an empire builder’s domain in history. Some areas went ahead guided by the philosophy of free speech and dialogue. When the mind is free it can unleash forces of change and usher in progress. Other areas were under the jackboots of dictators and tyrants. People simply did not have time to think about anything except survival. The philosophy of terror was transported by force to other areas. Thus we saw the Iron Curtain which effectively robbed whole nations of their freedom.

And even for those countries that got the chance to control their own destiny things were not proper. Mismanagement, chasing foolish dreams, jingoism and a lack of purpose and identity robbed their people of a worthwhile future. The Indian Subcontinent is a classic case. After over 50 years of independence from British rule, all they have to show apart from their grinding poverty, chaos, and corruption are a couple of dozen 1950 model type nuclear bombs. Is this really the top priority of the Pakistanis and Indians?

The Chinese have fared better. Resilient and almost paranoiac to any foreign interference, which included economic assistance, they have forged ahead but at what price? Millions of lives were lost in this process. In Africa it has been a nightmare. Colonialism’s dark deeds have plunged the continent into a never-ending nightmare. There seems to be almost no hope. And at the threshold of the 21st century people are still hacking away each other’s limbs and engaging in the most brutal and inhuman massacres of the century. The Arab world, which was a calm place at the turn of the century, has also gone through turmoil. World War I saw the total collapse of the Ottoman Empire. Then some Arab countries gained independence. Unfortunately, instead of focusing on economic and social development, many of these Arab nations were swayed by revolutionary euphoria. They allowed themselves to get caught up in the Cold War drama and in the end this decision led to tragedy.

Disastrous wars and purges robbed them of some great minds. In several nations, early winds of change turned into vicious typhoons, leaving only carnage behind. Dictators waged wars for personal self-aggrandizement, not caring about empty coffers and body bags.

The Arab world has lost out on many things. Whatever little achievements were made were always being overshadowed by internal strains and external attacks. The Middle East has been slow to respond to global economic conditions. There are, as yet, few economic plans that benefit the area. For how long this will remain the case is unclear. Time waits for no man as they say. Unless continuous efforts are made to push the system forward it will slip into reverse.

There must be a deep political commitment to trade liberalization, privatization, loosening of bureaucratic control and other measures that will spur the economy. Over half the population in the Arab world is under 20 years of age. More and more will soon be joining the job market. But what if there are no jobs? Can we bear the consequences? Arab planners must think about it. The moribund Arab organizations have done nothing to increase the level of inter-Arab trade and economic relations, which are at their lowest ebb. To enhance trade relations in the light of external challenges from various trade blocs should be a priority of Arab economic planners.

The 20th century saw strides in Arab education. But education itself has undergone revolutionary changes around the globe. The introduction of computers, the arrival of the Internet and the focus on new subjects and methodologies have made it imperative for Arab educators to create new plans to provide education to meet the challenges of the 21st century. Knowledge and information will be the basis of power in the new millennium. Arabs need to harness that power to gain strength. The only way to do so is through the effective education of our youth. It is important that our curriculums be shaped to turn out men and women who think and are capable of shouldering societal responsibilities. We do not need parrots.

The world is moving ahead. Everyone is excited. Even the poorest countries are vying to create exports. We have gone far beyond the traditional idea of goods as exports. Many nations export everything from labor to electricity. Other nations look to turning their huge populations into an advantage training their youth in fields from software development to banking. These young people then become part of international service industries that bring in huge amounts of foreign exchange. The Arab countries could do this. What they need is to search for a common ground where all these ingredients and talents can meet and form into a positive structure, thus unlocking a massive potential that will reap benefits not only for their people but for others as well.

There have been rays of hope. Several organizations have formed in the last couple of decades. These include the Gulf Cooperation Council, which in its 20 years of existence has provided cohesion to its six member states. Saudi Arabia, which is itself celebrating its centennial, is the anchor of this organization and has played a pivotal role in its development. The GCC is bound to play an important economic and political role in the next millennium. As a storehouse of energy and an area where others can reap economic benefits because of its stable system, this part of the Arab world will be viewed with increasing importance in the years to come.

While this is all fine, and we can bask in glory, we also have to realize that change is important. We have to move with the times. That does not mean we must change our beliefs and ideology, which themselves are catalysts for progress. However, it is important that dialogue be an essential part of our society as it enters the 21st century. The need to focus on issues that are crucial to our existence is vital. We have amongst us men and women who are perfectly capable of carrying on the torch lit by their forefathers. Let us listen to them and respond to their needs.

The world is changing rapidly. We cannot afford to be tied down by procrastination and the setting up of committees to look and review. Speedy solutions must be implemented. In order to do that we have to have a society that is more tolerant of other people’s views. We cannot go on rejecting the ideas of others simply because they do not coincide with ours. The greatness of Western civilization has been achieved due to the marriage of ideas.

Our own Islamic civilization reached its peak when knowledge was the key to one’s character. Ijtihad, or reason, was provided. The student was encouraged to question the teacher. Thus the renaissance that came about was largely the creation of Muslim scholars. The current state of our affairs indicates that we are in need of a new mindset. We need courage to recognize this and the will to change. Both of these we possess.

A study of history reveals that open societies are far more likely to enjoy peace, prosperity and progress. History has also shown us that attempts to turn inward, raise barriers between peoples and cultures, have led to intolerance, resulting in some of the bloodiest periods ever faced by humankind.

What are we to do? Will we grab a ride on the 21st century train, or are we to wait forever at the station? It is time to take action and remember that our success in preserving our identities depends more on what we contribute to human civilization than what we are able to counter. And we have much to contribute.

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Al-Hewar Center

The Arab American Center for Dialogue

The Challenges Facing the Arab Nation on the
Threshold of the 21st Century

Dr. Khalid Abdulla

(Source: http://www.alhewar.com/KhalidAbdullaChallenges.htm)


The end of the cold war, the collapse of the Soviet Union and the emergence of a new power configuration, ushered in the historical end of the twentieth century on the international level. On the more localized Arab level, this historical end was demarcated with the tragedy of the Gulf war and the beginning of the peace negotiations. Although the twenty-first century will assume the challenges of the past, it will approach them with new perspectives and novel options. The symptoms of these changes are manifested in the intellectual discourse and the cultural debates that have sometimes reached the extent of questioning deeply held convictions.

The twentieth century presented the Arab nation with fateful challenges at a time when half of its potential was unutilized and the other half unprepared. In the early part of the century, the Arab people were forced to cope with the shackles of subordination, division and dependency as a result of promises which were never met. There was the pledge by the allies, particularly from Britain during the First World War that in return for the Arab’s active participation in the war efforts against Germany and the Ottoman State, they would be permitted to realize their long sought goal of independence and the formation of a united Arab state. At the same time, Britain, in a classic case of political deception, was also issuing contradictory pledges to other groups of people. A glaring example of that double dealing was the “Sykes-Picot” agreement, which negated its promises to the

During the next few decades, the Arab people were submerged in the struggle for independence and unity; and in 1945 the then seven independent states initiated the League of Arab States to serve as a mechanism to strengthen cooperation among them. Since then, serious efforts have been exercised by the Arab League in a variety of fields, such as assisting in the struggle toward achieving independence for those remaining Arab countries that were still under colonial rule as well as in the area of cooperation amongst them.

Likewise, during the first half of the century, the Arab nation had to confront another major challenge; this time it was the partitioning of Palestine by the United Nations and the creation of the Jewish State. A consequence of the decision to partition Palestine was a continuous, intense and bloody struggle which lasted for decades, costing the Arab nation much energy and great resources.

Peace negotiations were eventually started in 1992 to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict. From the very beginning, it was very clear that if these talks were to succeed and produce a lasting peace, they had to be comprehensive and based on justice. A comprehensive and just peace has been an old Arab demand which the Arab League has worked hard for; one of the League’s most important initiatives in this regard was the 1982 Fez Summit conference resolutions. A lasting conclusion to the Arab-Israeli conflict, it was agreed, must be based on international legitimacy and grounded in the principle of land for peace which means that Israel must withdraw from all the land that came under its occupation in the aftermath of the 1967 war.

It goes without saying that Israel’s respect for its own negotiated commitments and its willingness to accept the adjudication of international legitimacy and the principle of land for peace, will create an environment whereby acts of violence will be no longer tolerated and the march toward a comprehensive peace will be much firmer. And while it may be politically more expedient and rewarding to play to public sympathy, one should not lose sight of the reward of peace in the long run. It is true that peace is a long and arduous process, but it is also true that its many fruits will finally be reaped by the people, all the people. The fruits of political expediency, on the other hand, will always remain the exclusive property and for the sole benefit of the politicians. Israel’s leaders, therefore, are called upon to demonstrate that their concern is more for the well being of future generations than it is for securing their own political hold on power for a few more years.

What then are the challenges facing the Arab nation with the dawn of the twenty-first century? We must differentiate between two levels: There are on the first level those challenges which Arabs face being a part of the inhabitants of this, our only earth. This set of challenges concerns environmental pollution, increasing poverty, arms control, etc. On the second level, there are those challenges which concern the Arab people, and by tackling such issues, the Arabs will have contributed significantly to making our world more peaceful, more just and more humane.

The issues confronting our people at this time are both numerous and complex. They nevertheless can be grouped into three basic categories, all of which have been with us for most of this century, but none of which has been resolved satisfactorily. They, therefore, remain with us and now beg to be investigated and resolved.

The first of these challenges lies in the ability of the various Arab countries to achieve fuller integration. This objective is necessary for two main reasons:

The first is important because the absence of such arrangements as greater cooperation and coordination, and stronger and more reliable ties, could be an invitation for more divisiveness and for sharper contradictions among them. Problems such as borders and water disputes will more likely be aggravated with the lack of a reasonable regional arrangement.

The second reason which makes integration even more necessary is the outcome of the old maxim which says that there is added strength in unity and togetherness. Arab integration will mean much greater power and ability to affect matters around the world than the aggregate sum of the individual Arab States.

The important question to ask, therefore, is this: why has the Arab nation been unsuccessful in achieving this objective? The answer is not an easy one; there are various explanations for that but only a few, particularly the external ones, have been extensively highlighted. I believe that two important variables need to be looked at and investigated.

It was initially believed that many factors such as the historical, cultural and religious factors which have been in existence in the Arab world would play a significant role toward the achievement of Arab unity in the post independence era. There was a failure to realize that independence has led to the formation of new interest groups who, because of their fear of losing their vested interests, will oppose measures leading toward more integration. Therefore, it is no longer sufficient or plausible to rely on those factors mentioned earlier, such as historical, cultural and religious to activate the engine of Arab integration, while at the same time failing to buttress them with the more pertinent ones, such as economic factors.

The other factor is the resolve of Arab countries to protect their independence and their sovereignty which is reflected in many articles of the Arab League’s Charter. This strict and literal adherence to the concept of sovereignty has been, in a number of cases, an obstacle to the carrying out of agreements and has deprived a number of resolutions of their effectiveness since it was stipulated that such resolutions and agreements should not conflict with the prevailing laws and regulations.

But one has to admit that at the institutional and legal level the Arab League has taken serious steps which could be used as a basis for a new strategy aiming at achieving integration and enhancing cooperation among the Arab countries. Some of the most important aspects which should be kept in mind while pursuing that strategy are the following:

  1. Rebuild the trust and confidence which was shaken as a consequence of the Gulf war episode. This can be arrived at by carefully amending the Arab League Charter, so as to embrace the latest innovations of preventive diplomacy, well tested means to resolve conflicts and peace enforcement mechanisms. Adopting such steps and others like them, will go a long way toward assuring the security of many of the Arab states.
  2. Employing certain mechanisms which are necessary to implement the resolutions and the agreements concluded by the League’s Councils within the framework of acknowledging that integration comes in gradual yet continuous steps but certainly not through dodging or ignoring the prevailing political, economic and social realities.
  3. That integration should come on the basis of shared benefits and common interests and not on the basis of assistance and donations. The experience of the seventies and the eighties during which the rich Arab countries extended loans and grants to the poorer ones, proved that such programs were a burden to the process of integration, if only for creating the impression that such capital flows were a charity from the haves to the have nots. What should be stressed instead are such steps as creating joint ventures and allowing free movement of products and factors of production which could facilitate cooperation and finally integration.
  4. Establishing a proper balance between individual and collective interests within the larger goal of integration. This will require a commitment from the various Arab states to recognize and respect the sovereignty of each of them, which means avoiding intervention, direct or indirect, in the internal affairs of one another. On the other hand, the multilateral institutions should be provided with the proper tools to motivate the states to honor and abide by the resolutions passed by those institutions.

The second major challenge which faces the Arab nation lies in greater economic and social development. In the aftermath of three or four decades of planned development, the results are as follows:

One, that the Arab countries, according to certain studies, come only ahead of the group of African countries south of the Sahara, in terms of human development.

Two, that there is a widening of the income gap between the Arab states and the industrialized countries. For example, the Arab GNP in 1978 was equivalent to 90% of that of Italy. In 1993, that percentage has dropped to less than 60%. In fact, the total national Arab income has decreased from $431 billion in 1980 to $420 billion in 1991. This picture becomes more gloomy when put against the rate of population growth in the Arab world, causing a further lowering of the total per capita income by 30%.

Three, that the per capita income gap in the varying Arab states has continued to be quite wide as well, and now ranges from $300 per capita in some Arab countries to more than $12,000 in other countries.

Four, that the Arab countries now are net importers of food stuff; and the gap between local production and consumption reaches around $12 billion annually.

Undoubtedly there are many reasons which explain the lack of success in development plans. The overarching reason for this failure, however, arises from trying to implement development policies that are solely based on, or inspired by the experience of the industrialized countries. In this ideology of development, the industrialized countries have become both the starting and the ending point for the developing world, including the Arab countries. Those Arab countries, as a result, have come to view their economic and social conditions, along with their intellectual and cultural circumstances through a limited perspective. They also began to assess their development strategy and their prosperity and progress by the prism of their gross national product. In this way, the whole concept of prosperity was tied to the size of commodities and services produced by a nation, regardless of the nature or the cost, both socially and environmentally, invested in the production of those commodities. Furthermore, the concept of development itself has been limited to economic growth rather than to the development of the society as a whole. As a result of these economic policies, many added problems were created for many sectors which relied on that sort of development.

Based on the conviction that development is synonymous with increased national income, many of the Arab economic policies encouraged greater inclusion of the various productive sectors in the market economy. The agricultural sector for example which, by and large, was traditionally geared for producing, for self consumption, a production which was not included in the national income, was now included in the market through the policy of agricultural reforms which forced farmers to produce cash crops, and prompted many of them to move to the cities and merge in the market economy. Such a measure produced a double negative reaction: it hurt farmers and transformed them into importers of food, and caused great congestion in already over crowded urban areas.

While these policies with regard to exploitation of natural resources may have doubled the national income, their outcome will be an early depletion of these resources without necessarily creating a substitute capital to replace them in the long run.

Moreover, the rush by many Arab countries to increase the national income, has forced them to embrace industrial plans which do not correspond to the peoples’ needs as much as they do to the foreign markets.

Obviously, there is a serious need for economic reforms in the Arab world, as there is everywhere else, but what is being championed by international economic institutions deals only with one aspect of the problem. And while it is clear that such reforms are incapable of resolving the existing strains in the Arab world, it is highly likely, nevertheless that they will produce new ones. What is being emphasized in the set of reforms of the international institutions is economic efficiency; included in this set are various steps which aim at ending the distortion in prices, controlling inflation and allowing for free exchange rates. Because of such distortion in the exchange rates and prices, the allocation of resources does not respond efficiently to the needs of the market. As important as these steps are, they are only attempts to match production with the existing distribution of income. But a total and effective economic reform cannot be achieved unless it also achieves equity of distribution and sustainability of development. In the final analysis, it is possible to achieve economic efficiency through equal or unequal distribution of resources within a society. Moreover, the implementation of these reforms will naturally produce winners and losers, which will require taking account of the subject of distribution in such a way as to prevent widening the gap in income and wealth.

The other requirement for economic reforms depends on guaranteeing sustainability of development through a careful balance between development, on the one hand, and the natural resources-carrying capacity, on the other hand. This crucial equilibrium should be considered, based on long-range planning, and should also take into serious consideration cost and returns for all of society and not for part of it only. The success of such planning depends on the capacity of the economy to develop, taking into consideration the balance between the depletion of natural resources, their rate of renewal and, finally, the country’s ability to absorb the refuse produced by such development.

The third challenge is to safeguard the national Arab security. For many decades, this very concept has been understood as defending the Arab nation against armed aggression. This concept of security was based on analysis of the prevailing regional conditions throughout the second half of this century. Consequently, much money and effort were spent on the military aspect. Such expenditures have reached the highest ratio in the world. Suffice it to mention that Arab expenditures on defense and security in 1993 accounted for 29% of the total Arab governmental spending in that year.

The marked changes on the global level require that security be redefined to reflect the capacity of the Arab nation to maintain its independence, enhance its well being and protect its mode of living.

Over-exaggerating the external military threat to a country could divert a greater share than necessary of the nation’s income to the military sector at the expense of other sectors and could cause social upheavals, weakening the country from the inside, destabilizing it and making it much more vulnerable to external threats. Strengthening the home front in the Arab countries relies, to a large extent, on two primary factors: the first is dealing with the widespread problem of poverty, as manifested in high rates of unemployment, which reaches in some countries as high as 20% of the labor force and more. The picture becomes more grim when we include disguised unemployment. The second is creating conditions whereby more people can take part in the political process, the decision making mechanism, as well as in its implementation. The direct involvement of people in the decision-making process, will improve the state of governance, lessen the probability of wrong decisions, minimize the social costs, and bring about more benefits. Regardless of how important these advantages are — and they are important — it is ultimately the inherent right of people to participate in decisions which impact their lives and interests. As the twentieth century draws to a close, the Arab nation finds itself struggling to emerge from many decades of internal conflicts to create proper conditions for reconciliation and mobilize its energies to build a more human and prosperous future.

We Arabs, just like the rest of humanity, have one and only one choice: to succeed so that we can participate in the transformation of our mother spaceship into a place of fairness, justice and cooperation; a spaceship that can develop so that it will meet not only our present needs, but also the requirements of future generations.

Dr. Abdulla is the Chief Representative of the League of Arab States to the United States. He presented the foregoing speech before the Los Angeles World Affairs Council on October 27.

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Copyright © 1999 Al-Hewar Center, Inc. All rights reserved.

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The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan

Speech By His Majesty King Abdullah II

The World Affairs Council

Los Angeles — 5 June, 2000

(Source: http://www.jordanembassyus.org/SpeechWAC06052000.htm)

Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It really is a privilege to be here with you today, and to address this impressive gathering, of the World Affairs Council in Los Angeles. I am grateful for this opportunity of exchange and interaction, and especially thankful for your advice and for your support. At a time when the world is changing in a direction that is still unfolding, and at a pace that defies both logic and convention, this institution, with its rich talent and grand reputation, will continue to be a pillar in the study and practice of international affairs. Your role in providing advice for policy-makers has in fact become all the more important. In a world that is overtaken by rapid transition, and consumed by deep transformation, your contribution to the mastering of the art of human relations is essential. It is a necessity that was underlined only a few days ago here in California, by Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. In her commencement speech to the graduating class of 2000 at Berkeley, Mrs. Albright eloquently pondered about when we would rise above the national, racial and gender distinctions that divide us, to embrace the common humanity that binds us. The answer depends on the choices that we all make, she said. Her words echo in the ears of responsible leaders, who assume the duty of public service with a conviction and a belief in the need to make a positive and real difference in the lives of their peoples.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Nowhere else is there a need to establish a commonality of human values among different peoples, than in the Middle East. With the conflicting parties finally facing each other to address issues related to borders, sovereignty, security, and peace, our region is heralding a new and markedly different era. In that, it is following a global trend that advocates overcoming the ravages of war to build the pillars of peace. It is finally heeding the call of ordinary men and women in the Middle East, both Arab and Israeli, to find solutions to complex issues that divide, and adopt simple human virtues that unite. We all now realize that we shoulder a great responsibility towards our people and towards humanity. It is an obligation to develop a new code of conduct that would secure the right of all, to live in peace, to belong to stable homelands, and to be free of the burden of military occupations, and the threats of violence. It would give the Holy Land the opportunity to offer the tranquility and tolerance that describe its three monotheistic religions. It would suitably turn the cradle of civilizations into a modern center of excellence and achievement. It would harness the available rich talent in the region, with its enterprise, initiative, and ingenuity, into a success venture, of growth and prosperity for all.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

As it ushers in a new chapter in the history of the Middle East, this third millennium will necessitate the adoption of a new mode of regional cooperation. The new framework would build upon the peaceful resolution of the political and communal conflicts. It would also cement its strength and sustainability. It would emphasize the need for transnational co-ordination in security matters, joint development of valuable resources, and the free movement of goods and services across boundaries. Such cooperation will necessarily address the existing disparities between states in the region, and will encourage an integrated and comprehensive approach to development. It will seek to optimize the use of available resources, and find ways to enhance regional cooperation in the process of their allocation. It will also lay the foundation for implementing projects related to water desalination and conveyance, energy exploration and distribution, and environmental protection. A regional infrastructure for transport, tourism and services can then be conceived. The adoption of this new framework would contribute to the establishment of a viable model in the Middle East. It is a necessary condition for economic and social development in the region and a pressing requirement for its effective participation and integration in the global economy. We can no longer afford to be mere spectators of a rapidly moving international economy. In a world that is increasingly being defined by private capital investments, by free trade, and by state of the art information technology, our contribution can no longer be limited to present levels of output of isolated islands of production. The Middle East has the ability and the potential to be an example of regional development. It can establish a new pattern, where cooperation among states and more importantly, among peoples, can guarantee a more effective role in the shaping and advancement of the world economy. Its available human talents, its natural resources, and its capital assets can be more positively harnessed to the benefit of the international community. In Information Technology, services and many industries, our region can rapidly gain a global competitive advantage. It can contribute to the growth of added value sectors of excellence in Telecommunications, software, data systems and media. More immediately perhaps, it can offer the peoples of the Middle East the opportunity to live, work, and prosper in their own countries, where they can contribute to the development of the region.

Friends,

The model that is being proposed is similar to many other examples around the world. In Europe, North America, and Southeast Asia, regional cooperation and free trade areas allowed for private enterprise to invest, prosper, and sustain the growth of national and regional economies. The political will for cooperation in all these cases is strong and irreversible. Equally important was the establishment of a mechanism to implement the concept and to realize the vision of partnership. At the beginning of this new century, we in the Middle East are still in need of an explicit and clear political decision to pursue this path of collaboration. As the circle of peace widens to become comprehensive and more inclusive, we must venture and collectively agree on the importance of its priority. The peoples of the Middle East, tired of the pain of conflict, and eager to embrace change and modernity, deserve to belong to a progressive world where new horizons are being charted on a daily basis in education, research, technology, medicine, and information. The leaders of the Middle East must respond to such aspirations of peace, security, excellence and ambition. You, ladies and gentlemen, can bring us closer together to end the lingering conflicts, and adopt the new code of conduct of cooperation and of human values. You can help us establish the needed mechanism to implement this concept of partnership for peace. Many initiatives emanating from the peace process that started in Madrid in 1991 attempted to fulfill this task. The Multilateral track of the Peace Negotiations, and the Barcelona Process of Partnership between the European Union and its southern Mediterranean neighbors are two such examples. Still, none of these sincere and institutional efforts has resulted in a viable mechanism for implementation. Admittedly, the impasse witnessed in the peace process during the last few years was not conducive to such a remarkable and ambitious task. The fact remains however that social and economic development in our region cannot remain hostage to the volatility of negotiations or the lack of political vision. It is time to remember the priorities as defined by the peoples of the Middle East. It is the time to embark upon a path of achievement and success, of harmony and prosperity.

Friends,

The world watches the United States and gets a glimpse of things to come…. In the United States, people watch what is happening in California and they predict the model of the future…. This state has set an example in dealing with natural resources, and even catastrophes. It has pioneered the growth of technology and led the growth in the American economy. It offers many lessons in productivity and reward. We in Jordan are closely watching… We are a small country but with big ideas. We are providing a model for our region where political stability, democratic principles and the rule of law are offering Jordanians the opportunity to excel, to contribute to the development of their country, and to be assets for their region. Our domestic reform effort is designed to be a catalyst for building a new Middle East, where social and economic development would replace political struggles, and where peace and coexistence would usher a new reality of cooperation and fulfillment. We have made considerable progress in liberalizing our economic structure, and in allowing the private sector to be a full participant in it. Our export orientation has been enhanced with our admission to the World Trade Organization last year, and with the conclusion of Free Trade Area Agreements with a number of Arab countries, with the European Union, and hopefully soon with the United States as well. Most importantly, we have made the choice to continue investing in the development of our real assets, our human resources. We have made it a priority to secure the necessary resources for elevating educational and training standards. This is the real advantage that will launch Information Technology in Jordan. It is the engine of growth of tourism and services, and most importantly, it is the talent that will provide the building blocs for the new Middle East.

I thank you for your presence and for your attention, and I hope that we can together find the ways to cooperate on how to promote a new set of relations in our region. There is a need for a new reality where the prosperity and well being of people are the central quest of our efforts. Too much time and certainly too many resources have been wasted on war and conflict. Let us devote our efforts now to build peace and stability. Let us work together for the dawning of a new era in the Holy Land. Let it be the sunrise of the new millennium.

Thank you very much.

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