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  • Author: Marc Finaud, Bernd W. Kubbig
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Geneva Centre for Security Policy
  • Abstract: SESAME, which stands for Synchrotron-light for Experimental Science and Applications in the Middle East, is a large-scale techno-scientific project that was established under the auspices of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and is set up according to the model of the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Geneva. This multilateral endeavour, located in Jordan, brings together experts and researchers from the Mediterranean/Middle East, including from countries that do not have diplomatic relations (e.g. Israel and Iran, Cyprus and Turkey). It is conceived primarily as a project combining research capacity-building with vital peacebuilding efforts. In principle, these efforts may include the manifold technical and cooperative dimensions of anti-terrorist activities related to weapons of mass destruction (chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear, or CBRN), and also to disarmament and non-proliferation. The country where SESAME is located – Jordan – has been heavily involved in the fight against the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (IS). This Policy Forum issue deals with the genesis of SESAME, and then describes its functioning, achievements, and potential benefits; the challenges it faces, especially funding; and its peacebuilding element. The SESAME project can be improved in concrete ways by meeting two peacebuilding-related criteria: firstly, by living up to its claim of being a contribution to rapprochement between the peoples of this conflict-torn region, whose security is affected by national rivalries or violent non-state actors; and, secondly, by providing inputs for the users’ community without adversely affecting that community’s predominant focus on research. This Policy Forum aims at acquainting especially young scientists with the technical and cooperative dimensions of SESAME’s CBRN-related counter-terrorist activities, as well as its disarmament and non-proliferation measures. Such scientists can make use particularly of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) programmes and of the nearby Amman-based academic and educational infrastructure.
  • Topic: Science and Technology, United Nations, Counter-terrorism, Peace
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Jordan
  • Author: Christian Koch, Marc Finaud, Bernd W. Kubbig
  • Publication Date: 06-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Geneva Centre for Security Policy
  • Abstract: This Policy Forum issue analyses the 2004-2006 initiative to establish a sub-regional zone free of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in the Gulf (GWMDFZ) as a tool to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear-weapon state. The initiative’s gradual approach which aimed at the ultimate goal of encompassing the entire Middle East (including Israel) was innovative, and the assertive role of some smaller Gulf states in expressing their security concerns/interests and verification standards that Tehran would have had to meet was unprecedented. But the entire sub-regional idea remained confined to the declaratory level. In contrast, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA or greement/accord) – endangered as it currently is – struck between the E3/EU+3 and Iran exceeds some of the concerns of the earlier initiative, yet misses others. We conclude that new – and ultimately sustainable – regional forums as communication mechanisms are needed to tackle these issues without touching on the JCPOA. The challenges go beyond Iran and include the nuclear activities of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and even more so of Saudi Arabia. Our Cooperative Idea emphasises that moving beyond the purely declaratory policy of the GWMDFZ initiative could also help to overcome the current stalemate regarding a zonal disarmament arrangement for the whole Middle East/Gulf region.
  • Topic: Nuclear Weapons, Weapons of Mass Destruction, Weapons
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, Gulf Nations
  • Author: Shemuel Meir
  • Publication Date: 06-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Geneva Centre for Security Policy
  • Abstract: Attempts to achieve a zone free of weapons of mass destruction (WMD-Free Zone) in the Middle East have become even more complicated than in the past. This Policy Forum issue provides a fresh look at the topic in order to offer common ground for positive discussions on Middle East disarmament. Its main novelty is to look at the security threat as perceived by Israel in the context of an Israeli-Egyptian-Iranian triangle that complements the old paradigm of an Israeli-Egyptian dyad. The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA or agreement/accord) with Iran is a challenge for some regional actors but at the same time could form a basis for bridging the disarmament gap, especially with its unprecedented robust verification regime. From a purely strategic angle, the JCPOA is beneficial to Israel’s national security interests. It is therefore to be hoped that this multilateral agreement will withstand the Donald Trump administration’s attempts to dismantle it.
  • Topic: National Security, Treaties and Agreements, Weapons of Mass Destruction, Weapons , Donald Trump
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, Israel, United States of America
  • Author: Mona Ahmed Saleh
  • Publication Date: 06-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Geneva Centre for Security Policy
  • Abstract: This Policy Forum issue revisits the stalemate in the negotiations of a zone free of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems (WMD/ DVs-Free Zone) in the Middle East/Gulf, which has been negatively impacted by several regional developments. It starts by highlighting the basic gap in the different conceptions of such a zone by the Egyptian-led Arab states, in addition to Iran, on the one hand, and Israel, on the other. Arguing from a comprehensive security perspective in the region, this Policy Forum issue presents a new Track II Cooperative Idea by viewing the establishment of the WMD/DVs-Free Zone as an incremental, multi-stage, long-term process that should take place on different tracks and should combine the traditionally incompatible calls for “Disarmament First!” and “Peace/Recognition First!” of the respective negotiating parties. While emphasizing how important it is to keep (in-)formal talks going – and to be patient – a Preparatory Commission for a WMD/DVs Treaty is proposed whose mandate would include special assignments for Track II actors.
  • Topic: Weapons of Mass Destruction, Weapons , Disarmament
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Egypt, Gulf Nations
  • Author: Marc Finaud, Bernd W. Kubbig
  • Publication Date: 05-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Geneva Centre for Security Policy
  • Abstract: In our new Track II initiative we will present, discuss, and disseminate Cooperative Ideas jointly developed at two International Expert Conferences in Frankfurt and Berlin (see issue No. 1 of this New Publication Series at academicpeaceorchestra.com). The aim is to help establish promising focal points around which especially the relevant regional actors in the disarmament & non-proliferation area can rally. They may ultimately lead to constructive and sustainable dialogue mechanisms which are so rare – and so needed – in the Middle East/Gulf. The Two Expert Panels in Vienna are our starting point with a Third Panel envisaged for the Second NPT PrepCom in Geneva as a follow-up event. They are presented in this POLICY FORUM No. 2.
  • Topic: Security, Communications, Conference
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Gulf Nations
  • Author: Marc Finaud, Bernd W. Kubbig
  • Publication Date: 06-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Geneva Centre for Security Policy
  • Abstract: The highly controversial missile problem in the Middle East should – and can – be constructively tackled by not singling out Iran and by avoiding onesided maximalist and unrealistic demands towards Tehran. The authors aim at providing incentives for Iran to start discussion on its missile arsenal in three ways: they propose (a) applying vital elements that led to the successful conclusion of the JCPOA; (b) regionalising future talks in a triangle that includes from the beginning the missiles of Saudi Arabia and Israel; and (c) starting with modest confidence-building steps among the three major powers. Among the extra-regional players the United States continues to have a special responsibility for engaging in such a cooperative approach.
  • Topic: Nuclear Weapons, Treaties and Agreements, Weapons
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, Israel, Saudi Arabia
  • Author: Christian Koch, Marc Finaud, Bernd W. Kubbig
  • Publication Date: 06-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Geneva Centre for Security Policy
  • Abstract: This Policy Forum issue analyses the 2004-2006 initiative to establish a sub-regional zone free of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in the Gulf (GWMDFZ) as a tool to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear-weapon state. The initiative’s gradual approach which aimed at the ultimate goal of encompassing the entire Middle East (including Israel) was innovative, and the assertive role of some smaller Gulf states in expressing their security concerns/interests and verification standards that Tehran would have had to meet was unprecedented. But the entire sub-regional idea remained confined to the declaratory level. In contrast, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA or greement/accord) – endangered as it currently is – struck between the E3/EU+3 and Iran exceeds some of the concerns of the earlier initiative, yet misses others. We conclude that new – and ultimately sustainable – regional forums as communication mechanisms are needed to tackle these issues without touching on the JCPOA. The challenges go beyond Iran and include the nuclear activities of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and even more so of Saudi Arabia. Our Cooperative Idea emphasises that moving beyond the purely declaratory policy of the GWMDFZ initiative could also help to overcome the current stalemate regarding a zonal disarmament arrangement for the whole Middle East/Gulf region.
  • Topic: Treaties and Agreements, Weapons of Mass Destruction, History
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Gulf Nations
  • Author: Bijan Khajehpour
  • Publication Date: 04-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Geneva Centre for Security Policy
  • Abstract: Based on his rich experience since 1994 as a strategy consultant for major international companies investing in Iran, the author makes the case for using the achievement-oriented approach of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action as a model for tackling all major regional challenges in a cooperative way, especially by non-governmental actors.
  • Topic: Treaties and Agreements, Non State Actors, Business , Trade
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Daniel Muller
  • Publication Date: 04-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Geneva Centre for Security Policy
  • Abstract: This Policy Forum issue advocates using elements of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA or agreement/accord) in prospective negotiations to create a zone free of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and their delivery vehicles (DVs) in the Middle East. In a stalemated situation resembling efforts to negotiate a zonal arrangement, the JCPOA after more than 12 years of negotiations succeeded in striking a multilateral deal among adversaries with diverging capabilities and agendas who doubted each other’s intentions and were reluctant to make concessions.By establishing an incentive-based mechanism that encouraged and facilitated cooperation, the JCPOA succeeded in trading various issues to reach common ground in an incremental step-by-step approach of carefully sequenced quid pro quos. Framed as an agreement among equals and safeguarded by multiple compliance mechanisms, the JCPOA (or aspects of it) could serve as a toolbox for zonal negotiations on disarmament, help to link hardened actors, and break up entrenched interest structures and dogmatic policy positions.
  • Topic: Security, Treaties and Agreements, Weapons , Disarmament
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, Gulf Nations
  • Author: Marc Finaud, Bernd W. Kubbig
  • Publication Date: 05-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Geneva Centre for Security Policy
  • Abstract: This New Publication Series POLICY FORUM is in addition to the Two Expert Panels conducted at the First NPT PrepCom in Vienna on May 8 and 10, 2017 our second Track II tool. Both aim at presenting, discussing, and disseminating the jointly developed Cooperative Ideas as potential rallying points for the most important actors in the entire Middle East/Gulf. The main goal is to help achieving what is most needed: relaunching New Communication & Conference Processes in the disarmament & non-proliferation area; this is seen as the core element of, ultimately all-inclusive, security arrangements for the region consisting of two centers of gravity relevant for our new, comprehensive approach for the entire Middle East/Gulf.
  • Topic: Security, Weapons , Disarmament, Nonproliferation, Trade, Conference
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Gulf Nations
  • Author: Jean Pascal Zanders
  • Publication Date: 01-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Geneva Centre for Security Policy
  • Abstract: This Policy Forum issue analyses both progress made by and challenges facing the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) and Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC). It does so in order to explore under what conditions and to what extent these two conventions might help build a zone in the Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and their delivery vehicles (DVs). Finally, the issue presents some options for the future and a major long-term initiative towards this ambitious goal.
  • Topic: Treaties and Agreements, Weapons of Mass Destruction, Chemical Weapons
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Gulf Nations
  • Author: Bernd W. Kubbig, Marc Finaud, Ali Fathollah-Nejad
  • Publication Date: 03-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Geneva Centre for Security Policy
  • Abstract: The dangerous spiralling of the rivalry between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Islamic Republic of Iran for hegemony/supremacy in the Middle East/Gulf is the factor that has the most negative impact on the entire region. The authors make the case for using the specific features and successful negotiations of the historic Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) as a way to downgrade this bilateral rivalry. This agreement was the focal point of (pre-)negotiations especially between the United States and Iran that de-escalated the tensions between the two enemies and turned them – at least during the administration of President Barack Obama – into adversaries with an interest in selective cooperation. The agreement is living proof that formerly incompatible interests can be overcome. It is true, however, that, despite its complexity, the JCPOA can only have a limited influence on developments in the region. This is why the authors identify the roots of the intensifying Saudi Iranian rivalry at the domestic, regional and international levels – with corresponding recommended steps to de-escalate this struggle. The prospects for such a positive scenario appear to be particularly promising if elites in both Riyadh and Tehran – especially since they are facing increasing domestic challenges to regime/government stability – opt to slow down or even reverse their countries’ current course. A more assertive population, especially among women and the youth, has become a new factor for serious change. This may incentivise these elites to pursue less costly foreign policy approaches – including finding appropriate forums for serious dialogue, with de-escalating the mutually demonising rhetoric as the first step.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, Treaties and Agreements, Hegemony
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, Saudi Arabia
  • Author: Inga Schierholz
  • Publication Date: 11-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Geneva Centre for Security Policy
  • Abstract: Disputes over water constitute a major area of disagreement between Israel and Palestine. The uncoordinated and irresponsible environmental actions on both sides have created serious ecological and humanitarian hazards that require rapid, yet sustainable action. Those who argue that the water problem can be resolved only as part of a comprehensive peace deal between the Israelis and Palestinians fail to recognise both the urgency and the potential of cross-border water cooperation. The bottom line of this Flanking Cooperative Idea is that because water- and sanitation-related issues extend both horizontally across national borders and vertically across various sectors, environmental cooperation can be used to create positive linkages with and spill-overs into other policy fields with the potential to initiate new forms of collaboration in currently deadlocked areas, including the field of disarmament and non-proliferation.
  • Topic: International Affairs, Peacekeeping
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Marc Finaud
  • Publication Date: 10-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Geneva Centre for Security Policy
  • Abstract: In view of the failure of efforts to convene a conference on a zone free of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and their delivery vehicles (DVs) in the Middle East (WMD/DVs-free zone), the Arab countries and the Russian Federation proposed that the United Nations (UN) Secretary-General appoint a special representative to lead the preparatory process for the conference. A process facilitated by such a UN envoy would be compatible with consultations among regional states, including Israel, as advocated by the United States (US). Also, it would allow for broad discussions on both the regional security context and disarmament issues. Such a process would also be an opportunity for submitting contributions from nuclear-weapon states, relevant international organisations, and providers of ideas at the Track II level.
  • Topic: International Affairs, Nuclear Power
  • Political Geography: Middle East