Islam Times: The seminar on ‘Middle East Developments: Trends and Future Prospects’ was organized by the Islamabad Policy Research Institute (IPRI) in collaboration with Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) Pakistan Bureau in Islamabad yesterday.
The speakers said that the objective of popular movements in the Arab world including Bahrain is to seek liberation from external and internal hegemony.
Addressing the seminar, former Pakistan Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Dr. Tanvir Ahmed Khan said that democracy in the Middle East would mean end of Western hegemony.
He said that beside control of the Persian Gulf States including Bahrain, the Western countries are trying to create a rift between Iran and Arab states. About Iran he said, ‘Iran wasn’t trying to do anything in Bahrain, there is no evidence available.
Dr. Tanvir Ahmed Khan added that an effort is going on to mobilize Arab states against Iran. ‘Bahrain is used to sow the seed of discord, but the Iranians are sensible’, he said.
Dr. Tanvir speaking on the ‘Arab Spring: A Myth or Reality’, said that the Arab unrest is a reality and not a myth. ‘What we are witnessing is reality, it exists’, he added.
He said that for a long time Arabs have not been able to exercise he right of self-determination.
Chairman of the Department of Defence and Strategic Studies, Quaid-i-Azam University Dr. Riffat Hussain said while speaking on the ‘Nature of Uprisings in the Middle East’ that the term ‘Arab spring’ is not the proper way to explain what is happening in Middle East. ‘I call it a popular revolt of masses’, he said, adding that the era of kingship is coming to an end.
Speaking about the situation in Bahrain he said that the Saudi government has struck a deal with the West and directly intervened in the Persian Gulf state.
He said that voices against regimens were made silent through brutality. ‘US will keep its friendly regimes in the region’, he maintained.
Dr. Riffat Hussain while answering a question said the Saudi government has used oil to buy the loyalty of protestors. ‘The regime in Saudi Arabia is brutal and repressive’, he said.
A large number of intellectuals, scholars, analysts, religious leaders and students attended the conference.
In his inaugural address the key note speaker and former Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Inamul Haq, explained how the different Arab countries have dealt with the uprisings.
The former Pakistani minister condemned the life styles of Arab rulers adding that they are living luxurious lives on oil money. ‘The money is being used to benefit Western economies.’
‘Saudi Arabia, which is surrounded by Arab awakening, opposes the contagion of protest for change. Wahhabi clerics are used to try and give the regime credibility and 129 billion dollars are being distributed to keep the protest in check’, he said.
‘King Abdullah is said to be unhappy about the fall of Hosni Mubarak’s regime’, he added.
Inamul Haq was of the view that Saudi Arabia has a long standing rivalry with Iran especially after the Islamic Revolution in Iran. ‘The US is trying to build a Sunni coalition against Iran’, he warned.
About Bahrain, he said that the US has specific designs in Bahrain as Bahrain is home to the U.S. 5th Fleet and the regime’s fall could upset the strategic order in the Middle East.
Inamul Haq said that Obama has already said that American policy will be based on a case to case basis and that ‘they are following a policy of double standards’.
He said in US eyes, Iran, Syria and Libya are the only undemocratic countries in the world. ‘Libya is important for them because it produces millions of barrels of sulphur free oil every day’, he pointed out.
‘French interest in Libya is for its fresh water resources’, he said. Haq said he believed that the West will raise issues of human rights and stability to attain its objectives.
He warned against steps that are already discernable and are designed to break up Pakistan. He said the US was plotting a Sunni front against the Shiite, adding that the economic cost will be high for Pakistan as disturbances in Arab countries will result in exodus of Pakistani workers.
He predicted a hard future for the Arab protest as the leadership there is corrupt and generally backed by the West.
Ahmed Farahani, IRNA Bureau Chief read out an article written by Sepher Khalaji, Deputy Head of IRNA.
In it, Khalaji said that during the past three decades, the traditional geopolitical arrangement of the region was formed by two camps which were ‘Cairo-Riyadh (US advocates)’ and ‘Tehran-Damascus.’
The paper stated that during the past six months, the Zionist regime’s security was one of the major issues in the strategy of the West’s foreign policy and that it was the basis of many of the US’ political relations and equations with Middle Eastern countries.
Chairperson of the first session of the conference, Ambassador (R) Khalid Mahmood said that the power struggle in the Middle East has been triggered because of both internal and external factors.
Dr. Maqsood-ul-Hassan Nuri, Acting President, Islamabad Policy Research Institute (IPRI), spoke on ‘Domestic Dimensions of Middle East Uprisings: Trends and Future’, and described the political, social and economic causes behind the unrest.
‘We should be optimistic about changes in Middle East’, he said.
The researcher said Iran has emerged as a strong regional power.
Allama Amin Shaheedi Deputy Secretary General Majlis-e Wahdat-e Muslimeen (MWM) also participated in the discussion said that uprisings in Muslim world are inspired by Iran’s Islamic Revolution.
He said that a new Middle East would be created which would be free of the United States and Israel.
Allama Shaheedi strongly condemned the landing of foreign troops in Bahrain terming it as a brutal act. He also accused the West especially the US of pursuing a policy of double standards against Muslim nations.
Chairperson of the second session of the conference, Dr. Pervez Iqbal Cheema of the National Defense University, Islamabad said that recent developments in the Middle East have put Israel in difficult situation.
He said that stability of Iran has turned the country into a strong and independent state.
Dr. Nazir Husssain, Associate Professor, Department of International Relations, Quaid-i-Azam University spoke on the ‘Nature of Uprising in the Middle East’ and said the youth bulge was big in the Arab countries so change was bound to come.
‘It is very difficult to predict the future of Middle East. Successful events in Tunisia and Egypt have raised high hopes’, he said.
He said Israel was losing friends in Egypt, Jordan and elsewhere and feeling insecure.
Dr. Nazir Husssain was of the view that pro US regimes are falling and Israel is in isolation.
‘The myth that the Arab world is not fertile for democracy is broken’, he said. The researcher said this is a great moment of opportunity.
Dr. Lubna Abid Ali, head of the Department of International Relations, Quaid-i-Azam University spoke on ‘Iran and Middle East Developments: Challenges and Opportunities,’ and outlined the independent policies of Iran since the victory of the Islamic Revolution and the model of resistance set by Hizbollah in Lebanon.
She said these two developments have influenced change in the Arab world. She opined that Israel’s tyranny was the single most important factor which has been provoking extremism.
Dr. Lubna Abid Ali debunked the US charge that Iran was trying to destabilize Iraq. ‘In fact Iran was making huge investments in Basra and other parts of Iraq’, she added.
She said that US intervention in Middle East has made Iran as the single beneficiary of war. ‘US image has been damaged’, she said.
Speaking on the situation of Bahrain she criticized the violation of rights of Shiites in that country. She rejected Western allegations that Iran was interfering in Bahrain.
Dr. Lubna Abid Ali said the uprisings in Middle East are waves of change but lack charismatic leadership that Iran had during the Islamic Revolution.
She said that it is American policy to declare Iran as a threat to Arab states. ‘It is only a myth not reality’, she said.
During the discussion one of the participants opined that the Arab uprisings are the continuation of the Islamic Revolution of Iran which through peaceful movement toppled an autocrat.
Another participant regretted that there is trust deficit in relations of Iran and Pakistan. He called for strong bilateral ties between the two neighbouring states.
Dr. Nazir Husssain in answer to a question said that the US doesn’t want Pakistan to have good relations with Iran.
Former Secretary General for Foreign Affairs M. Akram Zaki concluded the conference and said the Islamic Revolution of Iran was the role model for the change that was taking place in Middle East.
He said the US is very clear about its policy which was to protect Israel, control strategic resources and force the world to toe its line.
‘The US spends 48 percent of its resources to pursue the above policies’, he said.
He said in Libya Western countries are using force against the government but in Bahrain they are using force to protect rulers.
© Islam Times