Lo que sigue son notas en castellano e ingles sobre el encuentro que se está celebrando hoy.. Es en el Teatro Lara y se abre al público a las 15 30.
The Following is a summary of the minutes of the Conference on the Challenges to Democracy taking place currently at the Teatro Lara in Madrid
At the working table dedicated to the discussion of the Crisis in the Middle East, discussion began on the situation in Iraq.
Martin Varsavsky began the discussion outlining the following three proposals for a resolution to the crisis in Iraq –
The presentation of a timetable for US withdrawal from Iraq.
The credible handover of power to the Iraqi government.
The establishment of an International Agreement of non-intervention of Iraq´s neighbors.
Arshin Adib-Moghaddam continued the discussion –
The perception of sovereignty is extremely important. The US needs to be perceived as being honest and willing to uphold its part of the bargain. What is happening in Baghdad presents a regional security problem. America and Iran worked together to stabilize Afghanistan. The war there would not have been as easy without Iranian support. US engagement with Iran is very important.
There is also a need for Shia-Sunni engagement. Current polarization is very dangerous. Sunnis close to Baathist groups have created terrible strife, and because the Shia majority is currently in power Saudi Arabia has continued to funnel money to Sunni groups. Iran meanwhile has played an important role in supporting Shia groups. Settling this internal strife can only be implemented through dialogue.
Juan Antonio Ruiz Castillo commented –
Conference beginning in Baghdad today was not a top level conference. The higher level conference to begin in April allows for the hope of a greater positive change.
The United States needs to present the clear possibility for dialogue with Iran, and offer the Iranian government a possibility to become a part of the agreement.
Paloma Gonzalez del Mino commented –
The reconstruction of the Iraqi state is also paramount. The US may withdraw but how?
Oil, Israel, the War on Terror, the democratization of the world – these were the four objectives of the US invasion of Iraq.
The US has hardly spoken at all about democracy since.
Manuel Torres Soriano commented –
The US had planned to begin reducing its presence in Iraq back in 2003. But when it all went wrong they realized they had to stay. Their presence is increasing the level of violence in the region.
If the US withdraws without being able to establish a strong Iraqi state the situation will collapse into civil war. Because Iraq controls 20 percent of the world´s oil, Saudi Arabia and Iran will fight for control in Iraq. Civil war will be inevitable as the US withdrawal approaches. A strong Iraqi state is necessary to create peace.
Vicente Garrido Rebolledo commented-
The Security Council never accepted the invasion of Iraq. The UN could play a role in Iraq, but the US must first withdraw its troops. New resolutions must be adopted, and the UN allowed to play a role.
Addressing Iran is also very important. China´s participation in Iran´s nuclear program must be recognized internationally.
Carlos Escude commented –
The Iraqi state is dead, never to be revived. It was an artificial creation from the start, the forced union of three distinct ethnic groups. We must realize that states want power, and that it is in the best interest of every ethnic group and every state involved to vie for control of the region. The choice must be made as to who will control post-Baathist Iraq. Will it be the US, Iran, the UN?
George Emile Irani commented –
It´s important to divide the Middle East into the micro and macro level.
When you talk about the states you have to divide the states up into their different ethnic groups, and realize the importance of these groups in determining state action.
The nuclear problem is also very important, why can Israel have nukes and Iran no?
The US will be in the Middle East for a long time. Total Withdrawal is unlikely.
40 years of occupation by Israel of Palestine is an important factor to be considered as well.
What must take place is the involvement of regional powers: Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan with support of NATO should step in and create a confederation Iraqi state.
The election of a new US President in 2008 will be very important as well.
Vicente Garrido Rebolledo spoke again –
Neither Israel nor Pakistan are members of the Non Proliferation Treaty. The NPT is very discriminatory treaty. 188 states are members. Only 3 are absent, and under international law you cannot oblige everyone to act as you want them to. There is a need to be strongly opposed to Israeli nuclear program in order to be consistent with opposition. Also crackdown on all weapons, chemical, biological not just nukes.
Manuel Torres Soriano closed the discussion on Iraq –
Every actor has their own agenda. We need to think about what each state wants, and look at perspective.
SINTESIS DE LA PRIMERA PARTE
Hay que reconocer la importancia de las facciones, y los grupos etnicos en esta region. La division Sunni-Shia-Kurd tiene muchisima importancia.
Drop rhetoric in terms of Iran. Iranians feel that they are a very proud nation. Revolution has hardly been acknowledged. And the aggressive nature of the Bush Administration ¨(Axis of Evil) accentuates Iran´s distrust of US. Need to engage with Iran on a political level, divorced from negative perception. Israeli Lobbying groups have a negative impact on Iran. AIPAC, have impacted the vision of the US of Iran. Founded our vision in error.
The Iranian state is a state like any other. Need to drop constant threat of subversion, nuclear threat. Security guarantees.
Rhetoric is also destructive of possibility for construction of democracy. Agenda of regime change opens up radical sectors of Iran to subvert reformist majority. Work with civil society on micro level.
Iran is acting as it must, being a state, trying to control things in Iraq.
Iran wants a nuclear bomb, nothing wrong with this. Makes sense.
Iran wants to destroy Israel. This is more difficult to justify. We must take this seriously.
Iran´s army of 40000 suicide bombers ready to attack in the Western world. Need to take this threat credibly.
Depending on your perspective, Iran must be contained. Two points of view – from Iran´s point of view Iran has been acting successfully, taking advantage of.
Was the US invasion of Iraq destined to destabilize Iran? Iranian Revolution did not turn out to be the threat it was believed to be. Iranian power is being diminished by current fall in oil prices, making it less viable for Iran to intervene.
The issue of energy more than just security. Russia wants to play an important role in Iran, converting itself into a powerful energy power. After Russia completes its reactor in Iran, helping enrich uranium, nuclear components, Iran will be dependent on Russia. Any intervention in Iran would raise oil prices enormously.
There is a need to fight against nuclear proliferation. Everyone has the right to have nukes. But we must limit proliferation.
Current Fatwa against nuclear weapons by Supreme Leader in Iran. Meaning that no government agency or research organization can give money, legally binding, for nuclear research. Personal opinion that Iran is not developing nuclear weapons. Enough that world assumes that Iran has nuclear deterrent for deterrent to work.
Iran´s enrichment of uranium is insignificant. Impossible to make bombs.
Need in Middle East to collect funds from all countries in the region to use them to balance inequities in the region.
Comparison of Pakistan and Iran. Pakistan is ruled against public opinion and hates the west. Iran is ruled with public support and hates the west. But the paradox of Iran is that it is most likely to evolve towards democracy, but its government is interested in dangerous nuclear weapons. The difficulty is how to balance the two possibilities. If Iran is not attacked then there is the possibility that they will build weapons and use them against the world. But if Iran is attacked the outcome will be disastrous. The West however must act decisively against Iran´s nuclear armament. Must take away incentives for nuclear program. It´s impossible to make an agreement with Ahmadinejad, so we must work to destabilize the government and make him fall. Must close borders between Iran and Iraq.
Ahmadinejad has limited powers. He makes himself as more important than he is. There are 6 different political institutions of power, and all 5 have more powers than the presidency. It cannot set the foreign policy agenda. Ahmadinejad and his neoconservatives are being cut down in Iran. Likelihood that he will lose next elections.
Impossible to close the borders between Iran and Iraq.
Russia and China are important, will veto any sanctions against Iran.
Syria´s destabilizing role in influencing Iran.
TRANSITION TO SYRIA
Regime in Syria is in trouble.
UN Resolution 1701
The frontier between Lebanon and Syria is very porous, many weapons are passing through it.
Disarmament of Hezbollah also very important.
Travel to both countries. And even though Syria is an authoritarian regime, containment is better than invasion. An invasion would be absolutely insane. Lebanon was a terrible mistake. It would be easier to attack Syria than Iran. But still a terrible mistake. Israel and Lebanon seemed extremely similar, the countries look alike, the people share many similarities. It is a tragedy that the borders are closed, and that the two countries cannot visit eachother.
I had the opportunity to talk to members of the Russian community in Jerusalem, and Israelis who negotiate with Lebanon. The tragedy of the region is that the two peoples cannot communicate, especially considering the peace treaty between the two countries and its completeness. Iran openly supports Hezbollah. It´s impossible to to intervene into this situation if the Lebanese government is not able to take control of its state.
Syria must recognize the existence of Israel in order to allow for negotiation to be open. Israel should also return the Golan Heights. The normalization of relations between Syria and Israel is fundamental for Israel´s defense.
Syrian regime is weak, may fall. But the current regime in Syria is better than a worse regime, fundamentalist. What may come afterwards could be worse.
In Lebanon there is an ongoing civil war, and Europe must side with the Lebanese government. Strengthen and help the government of Lebanon to counteract the influence of Syria and Iran.
Invasion of Syria never seriously contemplated. No oil, not geographically strategic. But the Iraqi territory is very convenient to control. It shares borders with all of the countries in the region, allows to pull strings in Middle East.
Tragic that Lebanon and Israel to not get along.
Israel supported Iraqi invasion because that would allow for pressure to be put on Iran.
Invading Syria would not prevent any of the same positive consequences as invading Iraq.
We cannot forget the disastrous War in Lebanon. Now in Lebanon everyone hates Israel, because of Israel´s indiscriminate bombing. Hezbollah is the result of the US invasion of Lebanon in 1982. Before then Hezbollah did not exist. Israel should compensate the disaster and destruction of the War in Lebanon. The weakness of the leaders matters, Olmert is very weak. Hezbollah is a de facto state within Lebanon. Israel and Syria are in cahoots. The Syrian regime is convenient for Israel. No possibility for an agreement between Israel and Lebanon.
Support for Lebanese government, economic and political.
Create a tribunal to look into assassination of Hariri.
Israeli compensation for destruction of Lebanon.
OBSTACLES TO ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT OF REGION
Illiteracy and corruption stand in the way of economic development. Compare situation in Tetuan, Morocco where there is a lot of terrorism, illiteracy is 48 percent. Yet at the same time those who did 9-11 were all highly educated.
True that politics creates violence. But illiteracy is not necessarily higher in the Middle East than other regions.
Philanthropy in Latin America and the Middle East but not investment. Because you know that faced with corruption, having to compromise principles and pay bribes would be very difficult.
It´s necessary to build up industry, employ people in services, principal deficiencies are the lack of liberty and good government, the exclusion of women, and the lack of access to knowledge and technology. Need to construct a future for the young. Need for investment, increment productivity.Lack of opportunity coming from poor government. Embracement rather than a rejection of technology. Tremendous youth unemployment. 45% employment.
Difficult to promote investment until the problems have been resolved. Peace first, then investment. Doubtful connection between poverty and terrorism. 9-11 carried out by well-educated, rich people.
Exclusionary state identities. Iran is under sanctions, so they feel that they need to have closed economic policies, stifle dissent. Reluctance to engage with Iranian civil society. Iran takes advantage of sanctions to place blame on outside world rather than taking responsibility for economic failure. Iranian civil society needs to be contacted.
This meeting is not oriented towards business people. Writers, professors, thinkers. There should be another meeting of business people. Lebanon, Palestine, Iraq are today the three victims. Spanish business people should visit these countries. Need to help youth find employment, figure out how to build.
Problem of corruption is paramount. Attempt to invest in airline in Argentina, and all of the money was lost. Airline was involved in a corruption scandal including drugs, the airforce, it created a terrible scandal. Many people do still invest in these countries, but it is taking a risk. Corruption exists everywhere, but it is much less. Yet, he agrees that the effort to build successful, uncorrupt business must not stop.
The problem is the difficulty of government to identify the entrepreneurs willing to invest in the country.
THE ROLE OF EUROPE
It seems understandable for Jews to want to support Israel. So is the same not true for Muslims who would desire to help fellow Muslims?
Presence of Islam in Europe, its evolution. There is no political movement, although there should be one, but it is important as an intellectual to break the consensus among some segments of society. European Islam will always play an important role. As long as they are empowered within their societies, they can act as bridges between two different cultures.
16% would be able to justify the use of terrorism in certain circumstances, and 18% would be able to rarely. This means that a huge portion of Muslims in France and Spain, throughout Europe, would justify the use of terrorism. All you need is 1 percent in order for terrorism to happen. Still presents an enormous danger.
The political, economic and social conditions of a Western country are more conducive to successful business than in a Middle Eastern country. In western countries there is complete liberty. You can say what you want, put your arm around a woman, or do the opposite and be closed off. Iran has 60% of earnings of world oil. They have earned so much money. 47 billion dollars earned, capable of solving world poverty. The question, however, is how can you redistribute this wealth? Fake poverty. Problem of wealth distribution. But without democracy it is impossible to redistribute this wealth.
With oil there is no need to develop any other kind of industry, or change the political system to facilitate economic growth because oil brings in all the wealth the state needs. So this holds back true economic development. The moment that wealth and growth becomes visible, there is the danger that the state intervenes and takes advantage of this growth. Europeans have exacerbated this problem by talking about donations. Donation does not help countries work. Government intervenes. Preference for aid and subsidies, become uncompetitive. Inability to exist in a free, open market.
Impedes competion. But Pakistan has a zone that is creating new technologies that are more innovative than in the US.
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