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Middle East Security: Time for Dialogue Is Over

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Manijeh Navidnia
Doctorate in Sociology & Faculty Member at the Islamic Azad University

For many years, conflicts between Palestinians and Israel made up the main headlines in mass media across the Middle East. For a few years now, however, the developments of Syria have overtaken the issue of Palestine in hitting the headlines. Following escalation of horrendous developments in Syria, international community finally brought influential countries in the Middle East to the negotiating table in order to prevent continuation of heart-rending incidents in Syria. This process apparently shows that the time for war and conflict is over and at present, diplomatic methods, which are based on multilateral dialogue and agreement, are now at the helm. But is the present time, a high time for dialogue in reality?

In a social world, existence and absence of methods and behavioral models are usually determined by “constructs and structures related to them.” For example, you can only talk about an end to war when plurality of peace and reconciliation structures at three subnational, national and transnational levels outnumber instruments of war and the high number of armies. You can witness friendship and cooperation only when there is no room left for rivalries and belligerence. Now, at a time that power is given the upper hand in interactions, and countries see their prestige hinged on weapons and equipment of war, and at a time that playing a role in the region is tied to deployment of warriors and soldiers and many other cases, will agreement and dialogue seem really meaningful? Or dialogue sessions are just used as another way for saber-rattling?

Assuming that evolution of policies, has pushed countries toward dialogue and collective cooperation in order to establish security; assuming that countries have given up the concept of enemy and efforts made to know the enemy; assuming that perception of risk and threat has been replaced with perception of good and opportunity; and through many other assumptions, doesn’t it seem that the time for simple cooperation and agreement is over and shouldn’t we resort to new means for establishment of security in proportion to the maturity of humanity? Experimentation and laboratory method is one of the methods that has been there as long as humanity existed, but common use of experimentation started since the Renaissance and modern science and technology is its greatest achievement.

Since the main subject of cognition, that is humans, is considered as the object in Humanities, they marginalized experimentation method and focused on historical and documentary methods as well as different observation methods. In the meantime, security studies were no exception to this rule and opted for descriptive and analytic methods and even now, they have no doubt about these methods. At the same time, various methods of experimentation have led to various discoveries, inventions, and recreations, and as every day passes by, they create new knowledge, media, tools and means, thus, introducing new models for people’s lives. Ignoring experimental methods in security studies has led to recourse to ancient mechanisms (which belonged to the military society) and have caused insecurity (by increasing tools and structures for war and combat) in a bid to establish security. Another important problem, however, is that despite all their efforts, officials in charge of security matters have been unable to establish security as a result of which, massacre, destruction and homelessness still continue.

In order to resolve the security crisis, the Middle East has no choice, but to return to “experimental methods.” As long as officials in charge of security matters, security building politicians, ministers and statesmen, and security planners in the Middle East are busy determining principles of security in think tanks, their achievement will be nothing more than a handful of bills and decision. However, if they entered the field and spent a night in the ruins of a city; felt the pain of shrapnel on their skin; looked upon the dead bodies of their loved ones with their own eyes, and smelt fresh blood with their own noses; their entire bodies shivered with the loud sound of blasts; had to drag their wounded child into a shelter; felt the horror of being at a house, which may be destroyed by an explosion at any moment; and felt death hovering overhead as a result of hunger and came to grips with many other pains and sufferings, then “security,” like other fields of science would be able to create itself through creation of new practical approaches on the basis of “experimentation.”

“Experimentation” is a direct and unmediated method, which makes way for clear and realistic understanding. Therefore, the solution for the establishment of security in the Middle East and even the world, is to opt for “methods of experimentation.” This means adoption of experimentation methods by those involved in establishing security, from high-ranking state officials in regional countries to political activists in their secure cities, who are busy supporting this or that person. Even a reductionist variety of experimentation may be sufficient. All those people who have a share in establishing security in the Middle East, must spend just a week without usual security measures. Although minimum experimentation does not lead to a drastic change in decisions, it reminds them of the necessity to revise their methods and, perhaps, even this minimum degree of experimentation would finally show a way out of the existing regional crisis.

Key WordsMiddle East, Security, Dialogue, Syria, Diplomatic Methods, War, Conflict, Experimentation, Realistic Understanding, Regional Crisis, Navidnia

More By Manijeh Navidnia:

*Security and Protests against Insulting Film: http://www.iranreview.org/content/Documents/Security-and-Protests-against-Insulting-Film.htm

*Principles Enshrined by the NAM Summit in Tehran: http://www.iranreview.org/content/Documents/Principles-Enshrined-by-the-NAM-Summit-in-Tehran.htm

*Syria’s Best Way out of the Ongoing Crisis: http://www.iranreview.org/content/Documents/Syria-s-Best-Way-out-of-the-Ongoing-Crisis.htm

*Photo Credit: Geneva Centre for Security Policy (GCSP)

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