Hit the Brakes! Middle East Needs Peace!

Sunday, July 30, 2017


Ali Morshedizad
Board Member; Iranian Peace Studies Association

The Middle East region has special characteristics, which have turned it into a challenge-prone region, on the one hand, while delaying its development, on the other hand, and these two characteristics mutually invigorate each other. In addition, the Middle East has been also a focus of global attention due to presence of huge oil and gas reserves in this region, which are exported to the rest of the world. At the present time, both security and insecurity of this region, affect the interests of many global powers in all parts of the world. The Middle East is currently of high strategic importance and this issue has intensified rivalries among regional governments that pursue different ideologies and interests. Of course, big powers have played a great part in deterioration of this situation. At the present time, regional governments are armed to the teeth, while pessimism and suspicion among them have reached their peak. This issue has turned the region into a powder keg ready to explode. The interests of big powers like the United States and Russia as well as Israel require that the ongoing conflicts further expand and turn into a full-fledged war among regional countries. Such a war in the Persian Gulf region can get the American economy out of the current state of deadlock, while Russia would be able to sell more arms to meet its interests and can also further strengthen its foothold in Syria. Israel, on the other hand, will be taken out of the limelight in case of a war between Arab countries and Iran, and will change the direction of hostilities in its own favor. In fact, the situation is such that, at least in the short term, a war in this region can meet the interests of many powers, though a protracted war may not be in their favor. The main losers of this war, if it ever happens, would be regional people. Such a war in the region can lead to massive massacres and trigger new waves of refugees in addition to huge human fatalities.

At the present time, the Middle East region needs peace more than any time before. This region is exhausted as a result of long and devastating wars. After many years of bloody wars in the 17th century, European governments reached the conclusion to sit at the negotiating table and settle their scores there, and the final result was the Peace of Westphalia. A remarkable part of Europe’s later advances was owed to relatively peaceful conditions, which ensued from that agreement. Therefore, in addition to diplomacy and finding a short-term solution to disputes, it seems necessary for regional countries to find a way to put a permanent end to their conflicts. This goal is quite achievable and necessary steps can be taken in this regard on the basis of optimism toward human capabilities and determination.

Proposals have been offered in order to have a peaceful Middle East, which I will explain them here.

The first idea that has been offered in this regard is to have a Middle East free from all kinds of weapons of mass destruction followed by termination of all forms of arms race. Of course, achieving this goal would not be easy, because for one thing, there is no consensus on it, at least, at the present time. However, it can be considered as a future ideal in the light of which the region will have peace and be freed from arms race in order to move towards development and welfare.

Another goal, which may be more easily achieved and could pave the way for the realization of the first goal – that is, to have a Middle East free from all weapons of mass destruction and all forms of arms race – is to forge economic and regional alliances among regional countries. Existence of common economic interests and the connection that such interests create among regional nations will pave the way for further cooperation. As a result, developing the geographical expanse and scope of the activities of such organizations as the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) and the D-8 Organization for Economic Cooperation, can help realization of this goal. Countries in the Middle East can run multinational companies across the region, which would cause their interests to intermingle. They can also establish a common banking and credit system across region in order to further facilitate achievement of this goal. Cultural and environmental cooperation among regional countries will also pave the way for more empathy among them. At our time, cultural diplomacy has a great impact on relations among countries and cannot be ignored. Expansion of scientific cooperation and collaboration among universities is a good option to be taken into account in this regard.

Now is a time for wise politicians to use the diplomacy in the best possible way and do not allow a new war to break out in this region. They say “war is the continuation of politics by other means,” and “when diplomacy ends, war begins.” However, I don’t think that diplomacy has reached its end now. The diplomatic apparatus must act in a very sensitive and active way in this regard and prevent further escalation of hostilities and conflicts. A crisis always reaches its acme when there are human beings on the two sides, who lack the will to reach reconciliation. Existence of wise politicians and rational policies is like the water that puts out a fire.

So, I beseech Middle Eastern politicians to find a way and solution in order for us to achieve a Middle East free from war, violence and hostility.


*Photo Credit: Peace-and-Justice

*These views represent those of the author and are not necessarily Iran Review's viewpoints.


طراحی و توسعه آگاه‌سیستم