New interpretation of Arab national security [Archives:2007/1067/Opinion]

July 12 2007

By: Prof. Abdulaziz Al-Tarb
Does the Arab national security have a complete concept or is it merely a futile brand without any clear content? It seems that something of this is closer to what happens since information about the Arab national security became scarce and its proofs moved toward certain areas in the Arab World in terms of manifesting the logic of experience and admitting the regional divisions. This is the security of the Gulf and the Peninsula, as well as the Arab countries located to the east and north of the Arabian Peninsula. There is also the security of the Nile Valley and North Africa. But, despite all this, we realize that there is a single system for the Arab national security because the nature of arising risks, which imply that this security is targeted by external forces and regional challenges as a result of a group of regional and international conditions, which made the Arabs share common features. These features help bring forth a single content of what we can call the Arab national security that embodies the aspects of defending the Arab nations amid the current conditions. It seems useful for us to touch upon numerous influential considerations in this regard as follows:

The concept of the Arab national security primarily crystallized over the past few decades due to threats associating with emergence of the Israeli State and its aggression that targets peoples of the region. Such a Zionist state is perceived to work on embodying interests of foreign forces in the Arab land and resources. The issue is not limited to the countries bordering Israel, but it reached other countries. In the meantime, the Zionist aggression has become an influential factor for the majority of Arab countries because they all understand that the Hebrew State represents a different type of occupation circulating in the body of the Arab world.

We have to admit that the Arab wealth and resources have become an attractive factor for the presence of foreign forces in the region throughout the 20th century. The discovery of oil in the Arabian Peninsula and other Gulf states attracted the traditional colonial forces, particularly the United States of America. The issue reached its climatic point with the 'Theory of Inactivation', which Eisenhower explained in his principle in the 50s of the last century. Nevertheless, the Arabian Peninsula, which had been a blessing for its peoples, turned out to be a catastrophe on the national security and its different elements in the region. The oil reserves in the Arab land attracted new forces in our contemporary world and have become a centre of gravitation and competition between the superpowers amid overlapping allegations, mainly the Zionist movement in Palestine and the consequential conflicts that changed lifestyle in the region.

Several proofs indicate that the terminology of Near East, where the Ministry of British Colonies emerged by the advent of the 20th century, has undergone change in conformity with the American policy to be named the Middle East, which is the heart of the world. Also, it is a focus of interests since for being a store of human heritage and the land of divine messages and messengers. This terminology attracted the movement of Zionist orientalism because it has been usually restive throughout different stages of history. It is in this region where the region got merged with politics and different civilizations came into existence. The region has become a point of spiritual and cultural attractions before being a land of economic interests. So, the national security has its own shortcomings, which make out of it a tangible phenomenon before the appearance of military theories and regional masses.

The Economic Cooperation and Joint Arab Defense Agreement are still representing a reference for the total commitment that provokes controversy on the important national occasions. There was a sharp controversy among Arabs when Egypt signed the Peace Agreement with Israel in 1979. The same controversy was repeated once again when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1990, as Arab parties called for activating the terms of the agreement that remained ink on papers for a long time or (a theoretical frame for the Arab national security).

If some people questioned: “Where is the agreement?” The answer will always be that the Arab economic cooperation is an approach for implementing the agreement. As this cooperation doesn't exist, this means that the agreement and its terms are merely ink on papers. And, if the Arab League Pact specified an independent supplement about the situation in Palestine during the 40s of the last Century, the Economic Cooperation and Joint Arab Defence Agreement would come a few years later to consolidate the strong bond between the Arab League member states in this context.

The agreement remained to function as an umbrella covering the Arab National Security and its elements throughout difficult years of Arab-Israeli conflict and Arab-Arab disputes that culminated with the exchange of accusations between the Arab states bordering each other.

We should acknowledge that the Arab national security faces unprecedented challenges. Thus, the Arab-Israeli conflict and crimes committed by the Hebrew State in the region exhausted all the Arab effort over the past few years. The matter was not limited to this, but over the recent years, new players has entered the field such as the Islamic Republic of Iran with its strong influence, particularly after the fall of Iraq, and the challenges facing Iran's influence in Arab countries, particularly the Gulf States. The Arab region is targeted by two nuclear programs; the first is Israeli, which already exists while the other is Iranian, which is still underway.

The Arab nuclear program, be it peaceful or not, has become a prerequisite because it is difficult for the Arabs to live as orphans and remain besieged by an Israeli nuclear arsenal and an Iranian nuke program, which is underway. Those who understand the self-defence strategy realize the significance of hard efforts to achieve the principles of equal forces and sincere work to reach strategic balance in the region. The matter is not that easy, as there are numerous risks and diverse barriers. Additionally, entering the international revolutionary club has become very difficult and that everything should be subjected to a periodic international observation while Israel is waiting any attempt in this respect in order to abort the experience at the very beginning.

Although the Arab countries recently announced an awakening in this regard, the situation seems to be a reflection of two striking events, the first of which is that when Israel frankly declared its nuke program and the second event is that of Iran's attempt to have a nuke program, the start of which is peaceful while its developments are known to everyone. Therefore, the subject of using the nuclear energy is surrounded by the expectations of the Arab peoples, who bear in mind that implementing such a project is a reflection of the national dignity and dreams.

Contemplating on the 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah confirmed that the traditional wars have no place in the contemporary life and the role of military forces will turn futile. Wise people predict that the future will prove that the popular resistance is the key player in achieving high interests and imposing will of the nations. This point will be in favour of the Arab national security and help peoples restore their components to defeat any strong armies in the globe.

Prof. Abdulaziz Al-Tarb is an economist and a professor in Political Science. He is the head of the Arab Group for Investment and Development