The Gulf Research Center will host the third annual Think Tank Security Forum in Geneva from June 10 to 11, 2015 bringing together think tanks from different countries and regions of the world to give an assessment of the current global security environment.
In addition to participants outlining what they see as the most pressing security challenges from their own regional perspective, a core theme of the meeting will to focus on “Extremism, Violent Non-State Actors and State Strategies: Outlook and Direction.” The theme of extremism and state strategies is relevant given that its impact is being felt worldwide. Not only are all governments today challenged by extremist threats but in many parts of the world one is witnessing the rise of non-state actors that are challenging the very legitimacy of the state. What this means is that finding a response to the combination of extremism and violent non-state actors has risen to the top of the policy agenda.
A summary of the discussions will be provided following its conclusion with select paper being published in a compiled volume. For further interest in the Think Tank Security Forum series, please contact Sanya Kapasi under email@example.com.
In September 2014, the Gulf Research Center together with the Institute of Diplomatic Studies in Riyadh will hold the Gulf Forum 2014 under the title of “Arabian Gulf and Regional Challenges” The conference will bring together prominent personalities to discuss over a period of two days the key developments impacting the Gulf region and the consequences for both regional and external actors. The conference will be divided into seven sessions focusing on the GCC and Regional Changes; Challenges pertaining to development in Iran, Iraq and Syria; the Impact on Gulf Security of Regional Political Transformations, unconventional and asymmetrical challenges; external powers and the security of the Arabian Gulf; Gulf Security and the role of rising powers; and finally, future perspectives. Given the numerous developments taking place in the entire Middle Eastern region, the Gulf Forum 2014 is a timely event that could not happen at a more critical and opportune time.
The Gulf Research Center Foundation held the second meeting of the Think Tank Security Forum (TTSF) on June 18 and 19, 2014 in Geneva, Switzerland. The aim of the Think Tank Security Forum is to create a platform for key think tanks in the world that focus on security issues to exchange knowledge, staff and best practices as well as to cooperate in order to propagate high-quality research. This platform is based on the commitment of each institute to exchange resources and ideas in order to develop to come up with an authoritative security agenda for today’s ever-changing global landscape. In the second meeting, plenary sessions were held on the changing global geopolitics, migration, and energy security and its corresponding challenges.
The GRC represented by its chairman Dr. Abdulaziz Sager, Dr. Christian Koch, Director of the GRC Foundation and Noriko Suzuki, Director of the GRC Foundation, participated in the Korea-GCC Economic Cooperation Forum organized by the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) and the GRC in Seoul, South Korea on Thursday, April 11, 2011. Prior to the event, a meeting was held with Mr. Dong-Geun Lee, Executive Vice-Chairman of KCCI to discuss further cooperation. As part of the Forum, Dr. Sager spoke about the current situation in the GCC countries, Dr. Koch focused his presentation about the development of economic integration within the GCC, while Noriko Suzuki highlighted the investment environment in Saudi Arabia and other GCC countries.
In cooperation and with the support of the Italian Naval Staff College (Istituto di Studi Militari Marittimi) and the Ca’ Foscari University of Venice, the Gulf Research Center will host the first Think Tank Security Forum in Venice, Italy on the grounds of the Italian Navy Staff College. The meeting will bring together leading security think tanks from around the world in order to discuss the key security challenges being faced from different regional perspectives. One of the objectives of the gathering will be the production of a Global Security Agenda 2011 publication that will outline what the key threats to security are and the manner in which these can be best addressed. The meeting is by invitation only.
The wider Gulf region is a critical component in concerns about global stability and security. No area of the world has captivated the daily headlines in the past decade as much as the region that encompasses the member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates), Iran, Iraq, Yemen and beyond that the adjoining areas of Central and South Asia – primarily Afghanistan and Pakistan, and the Greater Middle East with its perennial Arab-Israeli conflict. The events of 2011 and the corresponding ‘Arab Spring’ has cemented the spotlight even further.
For better and for worse, the Gulf will remain the focal point of attention in the coming years. Iraq continues to struggle in its attempts to bring about a more stable domestic political environment while the continuing dispute over the Iranian nuclear program holds within it the potential for another round conflict. In addition, the circle of instability that surrounds the Gulf stretching from Palestine, to Afghanistan, Pakistan, to Yemen, Somalia and Egypt will undoubtedly contain regional and international repercussions. Added to all of this has been the unprecedented wave of political change that has swept through the Middle East since the beginning of 2011. This wave has impacted the GCC as well including Bahrain and Oman most prominently. With the added domestic political dimension, the specter of Gulf security has been broadened by another factor.
To properly comprehend Gulf dynamics, the area of focus needs to include the immediate regional actors (the six GCC states, Iran, Iraq and Yemen), the wider regional neighborhood (Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Syria, Turkey, Israel, Somalia), and the broader international community (the United States, Europe, Russia and increasingly Asian countries such as China and Japan) in a complex system of interaction where significant stakes are at play. Moreover, Gulf security cuts across a host of overlapping and complex factors including concerns about energy security, terrorism, weapons proliferation, border disputes, political development, education, human rights, climate change, just to name some of the more obvious examples.
Within this environment, the GCC states have attempted in recent years to carve out a role for themselves with the objective to promote a policy of dialogue and cooperation that could ultimately serve as a basis for better and more structured security relations both within the region and with external actors. The US-led war on Iraq in 2003 served as a catalyst in the sense that the GCC states were forced out of their slumber to recognize that its almost exclusive reliance on the United States as the sole security guarantor for the Gulf had not brought about a more secure regional environment. Instead, a series of antagonistic relationships remained in which the voice of the Arab Gulf was hardly heard and the national interests of the GCC were rarely recognized.
With its preeminent position in world energy markets and buoyed by large budget surpluses that have since 2003 in particular led to the GCC’s tremendous overall development, the Arab Gulf states have shifted gears and sought to interact with all parts of the globe in unprecedented ways. This can be seen as part of an effort to explore new relationships and find different mechanisms that could contribute to regional stability. The involvement with the rest of the world is thus being increasingly defined by the GCC states themselves instead of having outside policies being exclusively imposed on them. The involvement of both Qatar and the UAE in the NATO-led operations against Libya beginning in March 2011 is symbolic of the determination to shape policy instead of being shaped by it. Moreover, the rising importance of the region in economic terms, especially for the world economy in the wake of the global financial crisis, serves as a powerful magnet drawing the attention of various powers to the issues defining Gulf security. In this context, the Arabian peninsula’s location as a half-way point between Europe, Asia and Africa not only represents the crossroads for world commerce, it has wide-ranging geo-political and geo-strategic consequences as well.
To properly understand the complex dynamics that are driving regional and international developments, The Gulf Forum 2011: The Gulf and the Globe will explore the various challenges that exist and identify the strategies that need to be employed by the GCC states to promote their interests and contribute to more concerted efforts for regional stability and security. The Gulf Forum 2011 will further provide a platform for all those concerned with the region’s outlook to outline their policies and how they themselves can assist in moving the region out of its perennial cycle of conflict.
The Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI) and the Gulf Research Center (GRC) have announced that the 2010 Jeddah Economic Forum will have as its theme "The Global Economy in 2020." As the premier event in the Middle East, the 2010 Jeddah Economic Forum will highlight the strategies required and/or anticipated for global economic development and growth, and bring together leading decision-makers, experts, businessmen and academics to discuss the outlook for the world economy in the next ten years in the key sectors of banking and finance, energy and the environment, trade, agriculture, industry, education, health, and science and technology.
Experts and officials are debating whether the end of the global economic crisis is in sight and recovery is gradually taking place. In contrast to looking at the current implications and causes, the 2010 Jeddah Economic Forum proposes to focus beyond the current crisis, at the shape and leading characteristics of the next phase of global growth, which will be well underway ten years from now. To be able to anticipate developments and take advantage of opportunities, the focus has to be on the state of the global economy in the next decade.
The growth phase that just concluded was dominated by the Reagan and Thatcher doctrine: liberalize, de-regulate, deflate the role of the state. This ideology has now clearly lost its appeal: the pendulum is swinging back. The question that is central is just how far back will the swing be? In this context, the 2010 Jeddah Economic Forum will debate various parallel shifts taking place in the global economy that could have relative importance in the upcoming decade. Key stipulations include:
· Financial intermediation will relatively lose importance; at the same time, manufacturing will recover some of its lost importance
· State investment in infrastructure and in key social services – notably education – will attract increased resources; this never stopped in the emerging countries, but the advanced industrial countries just will not be able to take their competitiveness for granted any longer.
· Growth will continue in the emerging countries, which will increasingly trade with each other and sustain domestic consumer demand. In contrast, growth in the industrial countries will be hampered by the need for restructuring (some sectors growing rapidly, others shrinking; private and public debt being slowly reabsorbed; preoccupations for inflation quickly following the liquidity-creation bonanza of the last few months).
· Environmental preoccupations will gain importance and governments will pay more effective attention - as opposed to just lip service – to preserving the environment. Climate change will be the main, but surely not the only environmental preoccupation on the agenda.
· Energy policies will be pursued in the industrial countries to diversify sources and reduce reliance on oil and gas. The same will happen in the Gulf countries, where the power generation fleet must urgently be diversified from exclusive reliance on oil and gas to a more diversified composition including solar and nuclear, possibly also wind.
· Major new technologies will be deployed to improve the efficiency of engines, the insulation of homes, the effectiveness of remote communications for work and interaction.
· Greater attention will be paid to agriculture: the drive to produce bio-fuels will be just one component of this – higher standard of living and consumption in the emerging countries will be a more important factor.
· Health issues are emerging as vital component of a sustainable policies’ package, as issues such population growth, urbanization, environmental changes, widespread poverty, increasing inequity, war and other conflict situations, as well as existing and emerging communicable and chronic diseases will need to addressed. This will emerge as a major component of impending economic considerations.
· Income distribution will again be regarded as important. In the industrial countries, policies will be adopted to give new life to the seriously weakened “middle class”; in the emerging countries, extremes of wealth and income concentration will be looked at critically and pressure will mount to address them.
In the meantime, some of the key questions that remain are:
· Will global trade liberalization survive the recession? For now, the answer is not clear-cut: while it is unlikely that the essence of free trade might be abandoned, it is possible that some limitations are agreed and introduced to protect against excesses.
· Will "new" multinational corporations be allowed to take over some of the ailing giants of the past?
· Will regional economic integration (trade, finance, monetary) make further progress?
The 2010 Jeddah Economic Forum will address critically the various aspects of the issues outlined above with the aim to move towards some form of policy consensus.
The Cooperation Agreement between the member states of the GCC and the European Union outlines the prospects for cooperation in a whole number of fields including cultural exchanges and education. In line with the launch of a higher education program for the GCC countries, the European Commission and the Gulf Cooperation Council will host a one-day Forum on December 7, 2009 in
The Forum will bring together prominent speakers from both the EU and the GCC side and highlight an important dimension in the growing GCC-EU relationship.
The security environment in the Gulf region has dominated international headlines for over four decades. Beginning with the oil crisis in the 1970s and covering such events as the 1979 Iranian Revolution, the 1980-1988 War between Iran and Iraq, the 1990 Iraqi invasion of Kuwait and subsequent liberation of Kuwait in February 1991, the rise of Islamic militancy throughout the 1990s culminating in the attacks of September 11, and then the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq, the issue of Gulf security has been a central focus of global political attention.
Given current and anticipated political, economic as well as strategic trends, the relevance and importance of Gulf security to the international community is not about to change. In fact, day-to-day events continue to underline the continued volatility of the region and its far-reaching impact. The situation of almost complete disarray in Iraq and the escalating tensions over the Iranian nuclear program are just the two most obvious examples. Overall, events in the first decade of the 21st century have contributed to a further deterioration in the regional security scene with the result that the possibility of another major conflict looms large. With oil prices already at record highs, any additional instability in the region is likely to have consequences all around.
Gulf security is thus a global and no longer simply a regional issue or phenomenon. The fact is that the Gulf region sits at the juncture of numerous overlapping and complex inter-relationships, all of which increasingly have international connotations. Gulf security is not only defined by a number of different policy issues – energy security, terrorism, weapons proliferation, border disputes etc. – but is also determined by the immediate regional actors (the six GCC states, Iran, Iraq and Yemen), to the wider regional neighborhood (Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Syria, Turkey, Israel, Somalia), and the wider international community (the United States, Europe, and increasingly also Asian countries such as China and Japan).
All of the above complicates matters greatly. And while there has been much policy-oriented as well as academic debate on how the cycle of insecurity in the Gulf can possibly be broken, no structured attempt has been made to bring together all the various views of regional and international actors towards the region. The emphasis has been on highlighting the perceived irreconcilable different approaches rather than looking for the common, even if minimal, denominators.
The GRC is firmly convinced that Gulf security issues will not only continue to dominate the headlines in the coming years but that unless a more concerted effort at crisis management is exerted, the consequences will be both devastating and long-lasting. At the outset and within this context, it must be understood that both the regional and international relationships that define the current and near-term environment will be framed within a security context. Any policy deliberations about the Gulf region will necessarily begin with a discussion focusing on the security situation with subsequent decisions departing from this initial point of view. Therefore, it is essential to have a comprehensive understanding of the various issues that define Gulf security in order to be able to construct a proper policy.
Objectives of the Gulf Forum 2008
· To make an assessment of the status of Gulf security and to look into the key components that define it.
· To highlight the position of the GCC states and to analyze in-depth their foreign and security-related policies.
· To look into how both regional actors and international powers view the issue of Gulf security and where their main emphasis and interests lie.
· To explore practical realities and to look at the policy steps being implemented by the regional states.
· To identify policy approaches that might help the region in overcoming aspects of the security dilemma and to see how other regions have overcome similar problem areas from a lessons-learned perspective
· To develop an action plan for overcoming some of the more persistent Gulf security issues and to promote relevant policy alternatives.