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China Daily Global / 2020-01 / 07 / Page013

Security governance for peace

By WANG LINCONG | China Daily Global | Updated: 2020-01-07 00:00

Security in the Middle East is a national, regional and global security governance issue

Logically, Middle East security refers to the security of the region, the nations and the people of the Middle East. However, Western powers believe that it affects their interests, and that their interests override the security concerns and interests of the local people and nations.

Western intervention in the region has undermined the security interests of many Middle East countries and even plunged some into war and chaos. History shows that Western intervention is always part of the problem, never part of the solution, and that it leads the Middle East security governance along the wrong path.

Since the "Arab Spring", the Middle East has seen many changes in its security situation, the biggest of which has been that traditional and non-traditional security threats coexist and worsen at the same time. Political upheavals have opened the floodgates to security risks of various forms. For instance, regime changes in Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Yemen, Sudan and Algeria have complicated the security landscape of the Middle East. In this region, national security issues are manifested as those of food security, ecological security and public security threats. The spillover effect is one noteworthy aspect of the regional security threats. Terrorism, extremists and refugees from the Middle East have already become global risk factors.

Many deep-seated external and internal reasons have led to the fragility and the intricacy of Middle East security. But external intervention is the main cause.

On a regional level, conflicts between Middle East countries have exacerbated the security crisis. The Palestine-Israel confrontation has gone from bad to worse; both have reverted to the old path of "answering violence with violence". The Muslim world is divided into the Sunnis led by Saudi Arabia and the Shiites by Iran, and the hostility between the two jeopardizes regional security. As Middle East countries are at daggers with one other, the region is locked in dire security straits.

The domestic conflicts of Middle East nations and poor internal governance have spawned security issues and foreshadow imminent danger.

Some exclusive regional security alliances have just added insult to injury. For instance, the US-led Middle East Strategic Alliance, or the so-called Arab-NATO in the making, is a new body designed to counter Iran's influence in the region. It will increase the probability of major security risks and invite new troubles in the Arabian Gulf.

Enhancing independent development capacity and security policymaking is the solution. Many Middle East nations reliant on energy revenues are dependent on the US for security; some are dependent on foreign assistance for development. In fact, people's livelihoods are the biggest security issue. If people lose their livelihoods, they take to the streets to topple a government. Improving people's livelihoods is therefore a means to improve a nation's governance. From this perspective, only accelerated reform, better governance and sustainable independent development can fundamentally solve the Middle East security issues.

Major powers should work with regional powers to promote new security concepts and security mechanisms. The concepts should be based on common security and universal security, so that the region can enjoy reliable and everlasting security with some guarantee. "Absolute security" advocated by some nations is unrealistic in this region with many hotspot issues. Not a single Middle East country can be insulated from the turbulent regional environment.

At the first Middle East Security Forum held in Beijing last November, I witnessed a strong willingness from all parties to avoid war, full confrontation and escalated conflicts. They all stood ready to make peace with each other and resolve the thorny issues through political channels under certain conditions. China proposed a solution to promote Middle East security governance, which constitutes security governance on three levels.

First, national-level governance, especially improved independent security capacity building, rebuilding the security order, and growth for security. Restoring the security of war-torn nations comes first, as these nations have descended into chaos and become big security threats.

Second, regional-level governance. It means a departure from the "zero-sum" mentality, ushering in cooperation for security. The key to this is to upgrade the level of cooperation and build a multi-layer security mechanism.

Third, international-level security governance, with a focus on security risks monitoring and management. Since they are all in the same boat, all countries have intertwined security interests. They should promote the establishment of a Middle East security mechanism and solve the security issues through political channels, for instance, turning to the United Nations for mediation.

All in all, three-level governance will promote common security and mitigate risks, safeguard the regional peace and usher in new security order in the Middle East.

The author is deputy general director of the Institute of West Asian and African Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and vice-chairman of the Chinese Association of Middle East Studies. The author contributed this article to China Watch, a think tank powered by China Daily. The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.






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