World Congress for Middle Eastern Studies

Barcelona, July 19th - 24th 2010


Great Powers and the Middle East (032) - NOT_DEFINED activity_field_Panel

· NOT_DEFINED date: MON 19, 5-7 pm

· NOT_DEFINED language: English

· NOT_DEFINED description:

Chair: Halim Rane (Griffith University)

Discussant: Omar Shaban (Head-PalThink for Strategic Studies)

Paper presenter: Taylan Ozgur Kaya (PhD Student-Middle East Technical University, Turkey), "The EU and the Middle East Peace Progress (MEPP): more than a modest presence, less than a robust actorness".
This paper seeks to analyze the role of the EU as a foreign and security policy actor in the case of the Arab-Israeli Conflict and the subsequent peace process during the period commencing from its initial involvement in the early 1970s until the end of the first decade of 2000s. The main objective is to assess the EU’s performance in the realms of conflict resolution, crisis management and conflict mediation in the case of the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Throughout the 1970s and the 1980s, the EU pursued a declaratory policy and played a modest role in the Arab-Israeli Conflict. It had issued declarations (Brussels Declaration of 1973, London Declaration of 1977 and Venice Declaration of 1980) providing guiding principles for finding a peaceful solution to the Arab-Israeli Conflict and supported other peace initiatives. Nevertheless, it was sidelined and marginalized from the political dimension of the peace process and bilateral peace negotiations. EU Member States remained as bystanders in successive peace initiatives while the US became the major player in finding peaceful solutions to the Arab-Israeli conflict. The main reasons behind the EU’s inability to play an effective and active role in the mediation efforts in the MEPP are Israeli and American reluctance towards the EU’s participation in the bilateral peace negotiations as an active mediator, and European Political Cooperation’s limited potential for crisis management. During this period, the EU’s role can be identified as modest presence. The EU’s policy was based on ‘declarations rather than action’ or ‘declarations and call to action’.
Starting from the 1990s, the EU went beyond just issuing common declarations on the MEPP and began to play a significant and active role in the economic, political, diplomatic, security dimensions of the MEPP. During this period, the EU’s profile and presence in the MEPP has been enhanced. The EU has played a prominent role in the Multilateral Track of the Madrid Peace Process, by chairing the largest and most active one of five working groups (Regional Economic Development Working Group). By this way the EU played an important role in the multilateral and economic dimension of the Madrid Peace Process. Starting with the signing of Oslo Accords, the EU became the largest external donor of financial and technical aid to the Palestinian Authority. In the 2nd half of the 1990s, with the appointment of Javier Solana as the High Representative for the CFSP and Miguel Angel Moratinos as the EU Special Envoy for the MEPP, the EU’s presence, visibility and involvement in the political dimension of the MEPP began to increase. In the 2000s, with the EU’s Quartet membership, the EU’s involvement, presence and role in the diplomatic and political dimension of the MEPP further increased. The EU as a member of the Quartet on the Middle East has played a prominent and active role in the promotion of the Road Map. In the 2000s, the EU has played a significant role in the peaceful settlement of the conflict through some successful mediation efforts and diplomatic missions of EU and national representatives, like in the issue of the Siege of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. With the launch of two ESDP operations (EUBAM Rafah and EUPOL COPPS) and EU Member States’ significant military contribution to the expanded UNIFIL by providing the backbone of the force through providing 7000 troops, crucial military components and the operational command for UNIFIL, the EU has started to play a prominent role in the security dimension of the peace process. Thus, the EU started to play a significant role in the realms of conflict resolution, conflict mediation and crisis management.
This paper argues that although the EU has moved beyond just a modest presence in the MEPP with an increase in its role, visibility, assertiveness and presence in nearly every dimensions of the MEPP and its increasing role in the realms of conflict resolution, conflict mediation and crisis management, it still is not able to develop a robust actorness in the MEPP. Despite its actions which have enhanced its role and visibility on the ground and its presence in the political, diplomatic, economic, security dimensions of the peace process, the EU still does not have the clout to have a robust political role in the MEPP. It has continued to play a politically and diplomatically supplementary and subordinate role to the US, while the US has continued to play the role of primary mediator in bilateral peace negotiations. There are two main constraints which prevented the EU to develop a robust actorness and act as an effective mediator for the peaceful settlement of the conflict: internal and external. Internal constraint is related with the EU’s lack of coherence, the EU’s inability to act as a coherent actor and speak with one voice. External constraint is related with the Israeli and the American reluctance towards the EU’s participation in the bilateral peace negotiations as an active mediator. They wanted the EU’s role to be supportive and complementary to the US in bilateral political negotiations and be limited to facilitating the implementation of the Road Map, supporting the Palestinian state-building and economic reconstruction.

Paper presenter: Beste Isleyen (PhD Student-Eberhard-Karls Universitaet Tuebingen), "Discourse and Action: A Constructivist Approach to Canadian Policy towards the Arab-Israeli Conflict since the end of the Cold War".
This paper examines the Canadian policy towards the Arab-Israeli Conflict since the end of the Cold War and questions the link between discursive practices of foreign policy and actual foreign policy conduct. Previous studies on Canadian international relations have reflected the perception that Canada hold of its foreign policy identity as a soft-power with a strong attachment norms and multilateralism. Based on social constructivism, this paper examines the relationship between linguistic constructions of Canada's normative identity and its foreign policy towards the Arab-Israeli conflict. First, using a discourse analysis method it focuses on the linguistic constructions of the Canadian norm-driven foreign policy. Second, it questions to what extent the discursive commitment of the country to its external identity has so far been reflected in its reactions and actions concerning the Arab-Israeli conflict. It is argued that especially since September 11, Canada has failed to act in accordance with its constructed norm-based foreign identity because of a number of domestic and international constraints, including its relationship with the United States (US) and primacy of state preferences.

Paper presenter: Halim Rane (Deputy Director-Griffith University), “Second Generations Islamist Parties: Implications for Islam-West Relations”.
Political Islam has generally been viewed by the United States (US) as a threat to the stability of allies and security of access to vital resources. Moreover, the infusion of Islam in the politics of Muslim countries contradicts the Western modern history of secularising revolutions; it represents an infringement upon secular public space and a regression back to the political order of the pre-modern world. However, political Islam has not remained static; there is change on its landscape. A second generation of Muslim political parties have emerged, such as Turkey’s AKP and Malaysia’s PKR, which are Islamic in orientation and identity but base their political programs on universal principles of democracy, social justice, rule of law, human rights, pluralism, and government accountability, rather than crude appeals to implementing punitive aspects of shariah law or creating an Islamic state in the traditional sense. Also, unlike most of their first generation counterparts, second generation Islamist parties advocate positive relations with the West and do not overtly oppose key security and strategic interests of the US. This paper draws on almost two decades of US foreign policy documents on political Islam and relations with the Muslim world as well as interviews conducted with key representatives of Turkey’s AKP and Malaysia’s PKR. It argues that both political Islam and US foreign policy have matured over time. The Obama administration has adopted a more accommodationist posture towards the development of Islamic democracy, which allows second generation Islamist parties the space to evolve and establish a more mature Islamic democracy. Simultaneously, the moderation and focus on higher, universal objectives among second generation Islamist parties allows the Obama administration the opportunity to support the development of this version of Islamic democracy. The acceptance of Islamist parties by the US depends on three central factors: strategic value to the US, acceptance of the US economic and strategic goals; and lastly, commitment to democracy, pluralism, rule of law, and human rights. A number of Islamist parties are moving in the direction of fulfilling the third criteria; the second may be difficult, however, particularly in the context of such issues as the Israel-Palestine conflict; while the first criteria may often be a matter out of their control. However, this paper contends that the trend of political Islam and US foreign policy is towards mutual accommodation rather than further confrontation.