WEEKLY COMMENT 6-04-2017
By Barry Edwards
Middle East Plan
The attack against the Syrian airbase by the Americans has dominated the headlines and changed the strategy towards managing the war. It has changed the American policy concerning the war presenting the possibility of a new approach that may lead to a solution to the entire Middle East problem. The majority of the allies in the coalition attempting to resolve the Isis occupation seem to condone the attack and it has clearly sent a message to the Syrian government and the Russians that this behaviour is unacceptable.
Most people are of the view that it is about time that something was done to bring all the leaders in the region together under a proper unified international approach to achieve a peaceful coexistence in the region. This is probably one of the most difficult diplomatic negotiations for all countries involved to achieve and it must include substantial investment in the infrastructure and commercial activity that has not been seen since the end of World War 2 if it is going to succeed.
Despite the enormous oil wealth, the main reason for the fighting is that most people do not participate in the economies of the countries in the Middle East. Consequently, there is a lot of poverty and lack of comprehensive education which allows all kinds of factions to evolve as a reaction to the absence of democratic accountability. That is not to say that these predominantly Islamic nations should adopt western style democracy but a form that does involve many more people to be involved in deciding how these countries are governed.
There does not seem to be a recognised format that has evolved in the region but there are various models to work on throughout Asia. Providing the wealth is allowed to trickle down to the entire economic structure and local people can decide how their district is managed there is every chance that many of the problems we now see will start to disappear. It has certainly worked in South East Asia for several countries and they are now prospering and competing with the developed nations, admittedly not without many troubles along the way.
The main ingredients to get a grand plan established start with instilling confidence, hope and opportunity to encourage people to want to participate quite apart from the vast sums of investment that are required. The only organisations that can implement a plan such as this are the IMF and the World Bank in conjunction with the other Development Banks that may wish to participate. However, they will need to bring in much more private involvement if the plan is going to be implemented at pace to match demand.
The Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia has understood that a concept like this must be planned for if that country is going to survive after the oil is either exhausted or alternative energy develops fast enough to replace its use. He has devised a plan to involve more of his people in the economy and has accepted that the business activity must be much more diverse with substantial investment in research, development and technology. They and the United Arab Emirates have the resources to be able to achieve this but many other countries would require substantial investment to participate.
The structure and the basis of a plan are already there for the international community to work together to make something like this happen, all it requires is determination and commitment from the developed nations. The big change in the American position demonstrated by this attack should be the catalyst for these nations to start talking and actually propose doing something positive to finally resolve the problems of the region.
This is a big ask but unless we start demanding that real action is taken to change the whole attitude of the leaders responsible, little will get done. This pressure must come from those that can have an influence and it should be maintained to get everyone discussing the ideas to contribute to the success of the venture. If the politicians feel they have the support of their nations they will be inspired to take action and start the diplomatic negotiations to put it into practice.
This weekly comment is a start, let’s hope others will join in and start a motion to pressure the politicians and civil servants to finally do something to change this long-standing problem once and for all.
That’s all for this week, more observations next week.