Seeking Unity in Manama
Discussion of current events — including the victory over Daesh in Iraq and the civil war in Yemen — occupied the attention of regional leaders meeting in Bahrain in December 2017 for the 13th edition of the Manama Dialogue.
The annual security summit attracted leaders from 20 countries to address topics such as counterterrorism; conflict resolution in Syria, Yemen and Iraq; the security implications of economic reform; and political and military responses to extremism.
Dr. Anwar Mohammad Gargash, the United Arab Emirates’ minister of state for foreign affairs and international cooperation, stressed that Arab states can no longer be passive observers in their own security. Too often, this passive approach has let neighboring states such as Iran and Turkey play an oversize role in Middle Eastern affairs.
“We have to be part of the countries that actually carry the burden. We cannot any longer be financiers for our security, but we have to be at the forefront,” Dr. Gargash said.
A debate over post-conflict scenarios in Iraq engaged His Royal Highness Saudi Prince Turki al-Faisal, head of the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies, and Iraqi Foreign Minister Dr. Ibrahim al-Jaafari.
Dr. Al-Jaafari lauded his nation’s achievements in purging Daesh from Iraq, an accomplishment for which Prince Turki praised the Iraqi Armed Forces. Still, Prince Turki raised concerns about the prospect of Iran promoting disunity in Iraq through militias more subservient to Tehran than Baghdad. In response, Dr. Al-Jaafari stressed his Arab and Iraqi identity.
Oman’s representative to the conference, Sayyid Badr bin Hamad Al Busaidi, secretary-general of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, focused on peaceful economic and cultural exchanges between the Arabian Gulf states and South and Southeast Asia.
Other participants included Yemeni Vice President Lt. General Ali Mohsin Al Ahmar, Jordanian Minister of Foreign Affairs Ayman Safadi, Gen. Zubair Mahmood Hayat of Pakistan and U.S. Central Command Commander Gen. Joseph Votel.
His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa of Bahrain welcomed senior participants of the Manama Dialogue 2017 with a request for greater cooperation in the region to solve security problems.
“This is a difficult chapter in the history of the Arabian Gulf. We are facing multiple threats, but I believe they are more than matched by our resolve to overcome them,” King Hamad said. Sources: Bahrain News Agency, Asharq al-Awsat, The National