Center for Strategic Decision Research

Paris '07 Workshop

The Definition of Security: Rehashing an Old Debate

Egyptian Amb Mahmoud Karem

Ambassador Mahmoud Karem
Egyptian Ambassador to the EU and

Representative to the NATO Mediterranean Dialogue

Egyptian Ambassador to the EU Mahmoud Karem (2nd from left) with Indian Ambassador to France Ranjan Mathai, former Austrian Defense Minister Dr. Werner Fasslabend, and Chinese Major General Maohai Zhan (from left to right).

"Prolonging the conflict, avoiding the capture of historic moments or windows of opportunities to grab peace, is a
matter of serious concern for students of history as well as for leaders assiduously working for the cause of nation
building. The argument from a
rab citizens occasionally...[is] that Israel is working to prolong the
conflict in order
to keep Israel undivided domestically, to weaken the Arab world, and to push for an unavoidable clash between
peoples and leaders, leading possibly to the...decay of Arab unity and cohesion. Proponents
of this view
also argue that such delaying tactics may be used to usurp more land and create a new fait accompli"


I have been asked to give a thought-provoking presentation, to explain as well as to shed light on Arab public opinion.  I intend to do just that. But in order to fulfil this task I wish to present, before starting, the disclaimer that the views expressed in this presentation are those of the author alone and do not reflect the views of his government.

Globalization has indeed affected us all. The world has become smaller and more intertwined, with reciprocal dependence growing. Most of the present-day challenges and threats are trans-national. They emanate from different sources, not only non-governmental and non-state actors, and they come not only as international terrorism or the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems but from regional and interstate conflicts, failing or failed states, energy insufficiency, diseases, migration, water security, cyber-crimes, poverty, infectious diseases, the environment, and organized crime, among others. And they have all impinged one way or another on our national security.[1] Some sceptics have argued that the international agenda suffers from a priority disorder, especially regarding the lack of security and the fact that 40% of the world's population live below the level of $2 a day.

As one historian recently put it, "The 20th century was one of the bloodiest eras in history. Between 167 million and 188 million people died because of violence". The 21st century could be no better if we overlook the principles on which global security and peace are anchored.


Today, regional disputes have turned into long chronic conflicts that impact international peace and security, developing into a breeding terrain for injustice and a culture of hatred and despair. Additionally, ethnic and religious intra-regional conflicts have now led to ethnic cleansing and religious cleansing. The Middle East is torn by attempts to incite wars between minorities and factions, such as the Shia and the Sunni, the Christians and the Moslems. A war of conflicting fatwas also exists, exacerbating factionalism and deepening confrontation with the West. 

Islamophobia and Europhobia are also alive and well. The recent cartoon crisis in Denmark plus statements by parliamentary figures in some European countries and in the Netherlands have amplified negative stereotypes on both sides. The report of the SG High-Level Group dated November 13, 2006, and entitled “Alliance of Civilizations” stated that “Diversity of civilizations and cultures is a basic feature of human society and a driving force of human progress. Civilizations and cultures reflect the great wealth and heritage of humankind; their nature is to overlap, interact, and evolve in relation to one another. There is no hierarchy among cultures, as each has contributed to the evolution of humanity.  The history of civilizations is in fact a history of mutual borrowing and constant cross-fertilization.” It is through concerted and multifaceted inter-cultural dialogue, not through polarized perceptions nor by fueling mutual suspicions and fears, that we work together to address these negative trends. We must end stereotypes and generate common understanding

Even in the EU-Mediterranean policy or the Barcelona process, the Middle East is perceived more and more not as responding to the southern countries’ development challenges but rather as responding to the imaginary “threats” that these southern countries pose (migration, geopolitical insecurity, religious antagonisms, and so on). Concomitantly, little is being done to develop trade and encourage investment, as noted by a distinguished Arab U.N. official.[2] While the EU is the Arab world's largest external partner, the Arab region represents only 7% of the EU’s total trade. Investment capital presents another glaring discrepancy. Today, the Middle East's share of international trade and FDI is less than 1.5%, half of which is with the European Union. Medium-size economies, such as Sweden's, attract more capital than all the countries of the Middle Eastern world put together.

Another challenge impinging on our region is war by proxy, or the surreptitious management of conflict by proxy. Groups operating in Iraq, Palestine, Lebanon, Somalia, and Sudan, for instance, rely on material support from extraneous as well as regional powers and even occasionally from non-state actors.  These powers in turn use these groups to incite violence, derail the direly needed peace process, and delay, for instance, the implementation of a particular United Nations resolution that was painstakingly negotiated.

Egypt’s Work Toward Peace

You must acknowledge that Egypt does not stir up, father, nor pull the strings of any such movement, nor does it patronize or condone such a modus operandi to forge a particular consequence or outcome. On the contrary, Egypt under President Mubarak has chosen the more difficult path of brokering peace, placing teams on the grounds, making sacrifices while preventing escalation, and diffusing intra-factional disputes—in other words playing an exemplary role of peace building, peace making, and peace keeping. In this context it is necessary to underline the need to revisit collective security, by denying the selective application of charter principles, double standards in place of universal respect for the rule of law, international legitimacy and principles and provisions of the UN charter.


At present conflicting definitions of security by the parties in our region remain alive and well and center on whether solving the Arab-Israeli conflict will or will not lead to achieving regional security. The Arab leadership as well as private citizens believe in the symbiotic link between solving the conflict and achieving regional security. This has recently led to Arab peace initiatives reflecting not only a keen desire to achieve a long and lasting peace, but also a deep sense of conflict fatigue. Recent statements by the king of Saudi Arabia in which he noted that the region has long gambled on war and now should gamble on peace are indeed expressive and illustrative. The proponents of the king’s view also believe in the positive correlation between the lack of a political settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict and the rise of terrorism, fundamentalism, and the culture of animosity and hatred.

This setting is inflammatory, especially in young societies such as Egypt, in which about a quarter of its 77 million people are younger than 20. Naturally the presence of foreign forces in the midst of our region, who are there under various pretexts, fuels these sentiments and leads to additional radicalism. However, some Israelis believe the opposite. They argue that the reasons for lack of security in our region as well as the root causes of regional instability remain embedded in economic malaise, terrorism, weak political participation, lack of reform, viable institutionalization, and denial of an active and positive political process.

Consequences of the Arab-Israeli Conflict

Whatever the final assessment, it remains axiomatic that the strain of the continuation of the Arab-Israeli conflict on daily lives in the Middle East has forced the region to degenerate into a culture of confrontation, with a sense of insecurity permeating both Arabs and Israelis. Prolonging the conflict by not leveraging historic moments or taking advantage of windows of opportunity to grab peace is a matter of serious concern for students of history as well as for leaders assiduously working for the cause of nation building.

Arab citizens occasionally argue that Israel is working to prolong the conflict in order to keep Israel undivided domestically, to weaken the Arab world, and to push for an unavoidable clash between peoples and leaders, leading possibly to the disintegration of the Arab state and the decay of Arab unity and cohesion. Proponents of this view also argue that such delaying tactics may be used to usurp more land and create a new fait accompli (a separating wall, an expansion of settlements, or a change in demographics). For this procrastinating tactic to succeed, they argue, it becomes necessary to play on Israeli domestic politics and U.S. presidential or congressional elections as an alibi to defer and stagnate peace endeavors.

Although some elements in these arguments may be branded as weak and inconclusive, they remain shared by some analysts and a sector of Arab public opinion. The challenge therefore must remain focused on the need to capture time for fostering peace efforts and to avoid making the Middle East a region of successive lost opportunities. In this context a serious divide exists and, until this asymmetry is corrected, the doctrinal defense divide will remain. 

The paradox is that regional neighbors living side by side know each other’s weaknesses and strength very well. This knowledge of one’s adversary has sometimes been put into play not for the sake of making peace but for spoiling peace, or for maintaining the status quo, achieving a stalemate, or returning to the status ante. For example, whenever we are close to an agreement, an operation takes place that claims the lives of civilians either by Israeli incursions or firing al qassam rockets. Such actions reverse or stall the peace efforts of many parties—this has happened many times.

This vicious cycle must be broken. We must stop giving dark forces the chance to manipulate or stall peace attempts and to go against the solid political will of the international community, international legitimacy, and peace building efforts.

The Rise of Factionalism

One other factor impinging on the definition of security is the rise of factionalism, ethnic confrontations, and fear of different ethnic or minority asymmetries. To elucidate, political analysts are torn in a comparative analytical schism between Sunni jihadism and Shia transnationalism.[3]  The trend today is appalling; instead of promoting a national homogeneous mosaic in old, traditional societies in the Middle East, we are seeing intervention in the internal affairs of states by playing one minority against the other or one minority against the majority. Minorities are encouraged to find refuge in the outside world and to seek support for their case. In some cases, such actions may be warranted, in order to arrest certain negative activities taken by some governments that violate humanitarian norms, international legitimacy, and the letter and spirit of the charter of the U.N.  In other cases, however, such attempts seem to be made in the name of doctrines such as human security, humanitarian intervention, constructive instability, responsibility to protect, or even regime change. Maintaining the delicate balance between the fundamentals of socio-economic and historical factors must be carefully weighed against the consequences of fomenting internal disorder.[4]

The Fear of Amalgamation

Note also the diverse threat impinging on the national security of states in our region from fear of disintegration or amalgamation into a wider whole, where a state’s national history and identity do not belong.  A classic model is the one offered by the eastern European bloc after the end of the Cold War, in which we saw the emergence of a wide array of new states and the disintegration of an old bloc. This situation led to what the foreign minister of Russia referred to in May of 2007 as “historical revisionism.”

It is interesting to note that some analysts have said that during the Cold War one of the methods used to bring about change and to speed up the downfall of Communist eastern Europe was based on expanding the role of religion. Religion was perceived to foment social unrest, as well as to accelerate the much-sought-after dialectical conversion from communism to capitalism. Since the church proved to be a formidable force in this regard, the argument in the mind of some policymakers has been, Why not emulate the role assigned to religion in the Middle East in the hope of producing a quicker result for change and reform? To this end we argue that doing so would surely result in failure. In the Middle East, the forces of religion are old and deeply entrenched in the ethos of the society. Religion has never been absent, nor will it ever be. On the contrary, the protective role of religion in confronting the sweeping forces of modernization, westernization, and materialism shall always remain. Any attempt to tamper with religion will be considered an attempt to uproot old and traditional values and beliefs anchored in long-time practice. Tampering with religious forces in the Middle East is a recipe for failure, and is tantamount to playing with fire,[5] for religion should become a model for compassion and cohabitation rather than manipulation and confrontation. We must underscore the fact that the Middle East was the birthplace of the three holy religions and hence should become a model for coexistence and tolerance.

The Greater Middle East

A few years ago the Middle East was offered a formula that remains alive and well, namely, that of “the Greater Middle East.” This scheme is viewed by many scholars in our region as an implicit attempt to melt Arab identity, and possibly the Arab League, into a larger incoherent whole. Countries of the region responded to the idea by deeming it necessary to map their own future. They argued that Arab idiosyncrasies should not be diffused by other identities nor with extra-regional features, since the Arab world is a region fashioned by a common culture, common language, mutual history, joint religion, and shared identity. Diluting this through bordering regions would be tantamount to committing heresy in international relations theory terms, particularly if the tenants of the system’s theory were applied. A broader Middle East would be less coherent, less similar, and less prone to change. The distinct and sui generis character of the region must be taken into account, and simplistic groupings or sweeping generalizations of commonalities due to a geographic imperative avoided. Inducing change through electric shocks, especially in old and traditional societies, is a matter of serious concern.  Political and economic reform should be carried out but with the pace and rhythm each society chooses for itself.


Defense doctrines are predicated on the overall structure of a region.[6] In the case of the Middle East we can posit that defense doctrines remain wide apart, in dire need of restructuring and in want of a series of confidence-building measures. I would argue that the closer we are to a political settlement of the Arab- Israeli conflict, the less military spending there would be. To understand the link we must assess such a doctrinal divide. 

Let us first discuss the issue of WMDs. The proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons—or rather the fear of such proliferation—is actually one of the major causes of world crises. The few positive developments by South Africa and Libya in dismantling their nuclear programs were overshadowed by crises in the Indian subcontinent, the Korean Peninsula, Iraq, and Iran. Some of these crises not only still simmer but have regrettably denigrated into regional dimensions that undermine world peace and security, similar to crises witnessed during the height of the Cold War.

I would like however to claim that the tensions arising from these crises could be attributed to the policies for dealing with them rather than to the nature of the threats. After all, the nuclear tests in the Indian subcontinent were actions motivated by a strategic choice for parity and security of bilateral and regional perspectives. Despite the initial condemnations, the tests were gradually condoned, sanctions were later lifted, and even a strategic agreement on nuclear issues was signed with one of the relevant parties. Similarly, the crisis in the Korean Peninsula persisted for years, until the DPRK concealed and then tested its first nuclear device.  After six talks, a light at the end of the tunnel seemed to appear.  In Iraq, proliferation claims were drummed up and nuclear, chemical, and biological threats were dramatized to warrant regime change.  Military intervention on a massive scale was carried out, only to reveal later that a rigorous 10-year U.N. inspection system had almost demilitarized Iraq, leading to the assumption that the need for military intervention under that pretext was totally unsubstantiated. 

In the case of Iran, almost daily we are bombarded with threats and counter-threats coupled with intransigence and conditional ties over direct talks among concerned parties. Here I wish to state that a negotiated deal must be our target regardless of our individual opinion about the nature of the Iranian political system; Iranians must be the ones to choose the system they need.

Threat Common Denominators

Despite the seemingly diverse nature of all these threats, there are common denominators and conclusions that I would like to underline:

1. WMD proliferation was defined to label certain states as security threats and indeed as targets for possible punitive measures, either by the international community or by concerned groups of like-minded countries. Now matters are becoming more rational with the efforts of the U.N. Security Council Resolution 1540 committee.

2. International mechanisms and frameworks have been randomly utilized or at best selectively involved. The U.N., IAEA, NPT, and UNSC were sometimes undermined, abused, or completely sidelined. To say the least, their role was always secondary to that of maximizing national power interests and politics.

3. The threat perception has been increasingly shaped by ideology and sometimes cliché. Arguments have floated about concerning the "democratic peace theory" dividing the world into democratic friends and undemocratic enemies. Regime change has been perceived as less expensive and easier compared to multilateral engagements. The application in the last few years of the so-called Doctrine of Preemptive Strikes and Coercive Democratization has proved beyond doubt that power has its limitations and that such theories have adverse repercussions and produce limited results. We all need to be reeducated that democracy is indeed an evolutionary process rather than a revolutionary one, and that it has to be homegrown to hold ground.

4. Double standards and selective enforcement have been increasingly undermining the NPT nonproliferation system to the breaking point. Serious effort has to be made to bolster the universality and integrity of NPT while ensuring the full use of peaceful nuclear energy in accordance with Article IV of the treaty. Cohesion and predictability are urgently needed to maintain the rule-based order on which nonproliferation heavily depends. No back-tracking on the "fruits" of NPT signatories should be envisaged; on the contrary, means must be devised to enable all signatories to utilize and reap NPT's full benefits, including enrichment as stipulated in the treaty within a transparent, safe, monitored, and verifiable safeguard system and in full conformity with the tenants of the agency's additional protocol.

5. No country in the world is powerful enough to prevent future nuclear proliferation violations without the framework of the universal rules that all states accept and enforce. To put it in the words of Dr. George Pekovich, in one of the recent Carnegie Endowment papers, "Any strategy of ignoring international rules to change regimes America does not like and changing rules to reward those America favors is doomed to fail." I would add that multilateral diplomacy rather than military force should be the ultimate way to deal with the issues at hand.

Weak and Failed States

Regarding weak and failed states, I would like to draw your kind attention to the following elements based on my personal observations of developments in both Afghanistan and Somalia. I believe that these threats have a lot to do with the third group of threat aspects emanating from terrorism and organized crime.

1. The collapse of any given government, resulting in the absence of law and order triggered by or resulting in civil wars, political unrest, or tribal, ethnic, or sectarian strife, are viewed today as catalysts for radicalization and extremism, which in turn give way to the rise of terrorist organizations and fundamentalist ideology. Therefore, there is a need to formulate international understanding on how best to contain such cases, prevent spillovers into neighboring countries, invest in regional and sub- regional arrangements, exert pressure for reconciliation and dialogue, and, finally and perhaps most effectively, support economic and social development.

Egypt has proposed in many instances the need to pursue an in-depth and detailed discussion on political Islam with our European partners. We should not forget that it was the Marshall Plan that rebuilt Europe after the Second World War. Had all or some of its principals been implemented to support the Somali transitional government, we would not have facilitated the emergence of Islamic courts, nor would we have had to deal later with foreign military intervention or aerial strikes from a neighboring state, strikes whose outcome is far from certain. The same applies to Afghanistan. There is no question that the U.N. remains the best-vested and most credible nation-builder that we have. To achieve that, the U.N. has to be politically empowered and sufficiently financed.  The success stories in both Kampuchea and Mozambique must be emulated.

2. There are a good number of signs that post-conflict reconstruction efforts are the foreign policy issue du jour in many capitals. The U.S.-led endeavors in Afghanistan and Iraq have demonstrated that the planning, financing, coordination, and execution for rebuilding war-torn countries are inadequate. I would like to note, though, that focusing on post-conflict reconstruction alone would be a mistake—equal emphasis must be accorded to building good local governance in a large number of weak and impoverished states. Interstate conflicts and lawlessness in a particular country nurture chaos, creating a breeding ground for terrorism, trade in small arms and light weapons, smuggling, and drug production and trafficking, all with serious effects beyond the boundaries of the country. I even believe that these byproducts of weak and failed states ultimately affect the global economy and global stability.

It was rightly said that state-building through socio-economic development is indeed not an act of simple charity but a smart investment in regional and global security, but there are pivotal areas that are usually neglected. Most of the efforts are geared to the overriding imperative of assembling a strong coalition and a strong military presence. In most cases this is done at the expense of social care, building on local authority, and developing a strong educational and health care system that conforms with local traditions and values. Coalition forces should not be seen as offsetting local values or norms.[7] 

3. The fluid nature of terrorist organizations makes them extremely difficult to contain and to understand not only the philosophy and motivations behind their ideology but also their infrastructure and financing network. Ideologies are not fought with traditional armies; they are fought with dialogue, reasoning, and a counter-ideology of values that promises and delivers a better quality of life, security, development, education, and basic needs.[8]

Clashing Cultural Identities

Regarding the clash of cultural identities, I would simply like to state that we live in an increasingly complex world in which polarized perceptions, fueled by injustice and inequality, often lead to violence and conflict, threatening international stability. Over the past few years, wars, occupations, and acts of terror have exacerbated suspicion and fear within and among societies. Some political leaders and sectors of the media as well as radical groups have exploited this environment, painting images of a world made up of mutually exclusive cultures, religions, or civilizations, historically distinct and destined for confrontation.[9]

The report presented by the U.N. High-Level Group in November of 2006 in Istanbul (the report that was co-sponsored by the prime ministers of Spain and Turkey) concluded that this issue represents a real danger to discourse among countries and put forward a host of measures that must be taken if we are to increase the margins of consensus and dialogue along with the values of mutual respect among peoples of different cultural and religious traditions. The report stressed that it is of the utmost importance to counter the stereotypes and misconceptions that entrench patterns of hostility and mistrust among societies, a matter that is essential for forging the collective political will to address the world’s imbalances with a view toward diminishing hostility and promoting harmony among the nations and cultures of the world.


Coming from the Middle East, I would like to seize this opportunity to shed light on the outcome of the Arab Summit that convened in Riyadh (KSA) on March 27-28, 2007. These three resolutions are relevant to our discussion:

1. The first resolution deals with developing a unified Arab position on establishing a Middle East free of nuclear weapons.

2. The second resolution deals with the development of peaceful programs for nuclear energy.

3. The third resolution deals with the establishment of a pan-Arab program for peaceful applications of nuclear energy.

Without dwelling too much on the specifics of the three resolutions, which are political in essence, I would like to stress several points that the western media always reports on with suspicion and sometimes with superficial interpretations. The issue of nuclear energy is always reported on in conjunction with two problematic topics—the Iranian nuclear program and Israel's nuclear ambiguity. Moreover some question the reason behind the Arabs’ so-called sudden interest in nuclear energy at a time when 25% of proven oil and gas reserves lie in the region. With this in mind I wish to stress the following:

1. All 22 member-states of the Arab League are signatories of the Nonproliferation Treaty, therefore all remain entitled to the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

2. The Arab states have endeavored for many years to establish an ME zone free of all weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons.

3. The threat to regional and international peace lies with those countries that have covert nuclear capabilities, namely Israel, whose prime minister openly declared in December 2006  that his country possesses nuclear weapons. As long as Israel remains the only country in the region whose nuclear capabilities are condoned based on convoluted assumptions that they are needed for protection from belligerent neighbors or to ensure the country’s existence, the whole system of nonproliferation will be severely undermined.  Nuclear weapons do not ensure the existence of any country; what ensures Israel's security is peace with its neighbors.

4. The Arab countries’ need for nuclear energy is often understated. Countries such as Egypt, whose population doubles every 20 years and whose proven reserves of oil and gas are very modest, certainly needs sustained supplies of energy for future development. Other countries such as the Gulf states need cheaper energy to produce drinking water. While they may be rich in fossil fuels they have dire shortages of fresh water. These are but a few examples.

5. One of the resolutions adopted by the Riyadh Summit recommended that all Arab states establish independent national structures assigned to monitor the importing of nuclear materials and isotopes with a view to establishing full clarity and transparency with the international community and international organizations. Compliance with treaties and international obligations are the focus of the Arab drive for the peaceful use of nuclear energy. This must be commended and supported by the international community.


In conclusion, it is clear that today our security is threatened in a number of ways. We are all confronted with the scourge of terrorism.  We must collectively deal with the threats emanating from the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, because the risks pose potential threats to international peace and security.

Not one nation is immune from these threats. Not one state is capable of tackling them alone. The only way to deal with such threats is through international cooperation. Threats to security know no borders, hence we must use our growing collective efforts and global cooperation to defeat them.

For the past few years, NATO has been trying to promote a modus vivendi of collective and concerted actions, not just among its own member-states but with other nations and organizations as well. NATO has also been trying to build a large network of partnerships with countries throughout the Euro-Atlantic area, the Mediterranean, the Middle East, and Australia and Japan.

However, NATO's engagement outside its traditional area of operation has raised several questions in many regions. It is imperative that NATO clarify its intentions toward and goals for the Middle East in order to convince global populations of its goal of cooperation; this would lead to improving NATO's image and to rectifying an historical problem. Explaining the collateral and civilian damages that have resulted from aerial operations in Afghanistan is a challenge NATO must meet.

Furthermore, I would like to outline that in the framework of NATO's transformation, its activities has become not only limited to military actions, but also that NATO has strengthened its political dimension through intensified political consultations.  However, political decisions should always be part of the international community’s response and lead to closer contact with the United Nations.

In 1994 NATO launched the Mediterranean Dialogue initiative with five countries, including Egypt, in the southern Mediterranean region.  The aim of this initiative is to foster confidence between the two sides, address common security threats, and dispel any misperceptions about NATO after the end of the Cold War. Egypt strongly supports this dialogue, and over the past few years there has been good progress in relations between the two sides. We have had more frequent and fruitful political discussions on a wider range of issues, and contact and cooperation between NATO and each of the seven Mediterranean countries have increased significantly. Progress has also been made in several areas of practical cooperation.

Egypt and NATO have moved closer in the past few years. We welcome this trend and look forward to reinforcing it.  We should discuss the way we look at security today and minimize the doctrinal divide. We need to identify the main risks and threats before us, how we can work together to meet those challenges, and how we can overcome any lingering doubts or misconceptions in our relationship. Much needs to be done.   

[1] Since the end of the Cold War the world community has been introduced to various new concepts of security threats. Our perception of global threats has also evolved during the last few decades to include menaces such as pandemics, heat-trapping gas emissions, changing weather patterns, dwindling energy supplies, poverty, and underdevelopment among the list of other more familiar threats of a political  and military nature, notably among which are terrorism, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, wars emanating from colliding interests, or strife over land or simply over maintaining primacy or achieving strategic advantage.

[2] Dr. Heba El-Kholy, Unitged Nations Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in a speech before the European Parliament December 7, 2007.

[3] Take the case of Egypt, for example, where the Bedouins, Copts, and Nubians have always been an integral part of the national character and identity, a reason for fomenting national cohesion rather than disunity.

[4] During the last few decades there has been a remarkable increase in inter-state and cross boarder crises triggered by minority politics. Due to the nature of our globalized world, minorities have become more and more willing to raise their profiles and take stock of their perceived status within their communities. This awareness is indeed a positive development as long as their aim is to attain acknowledgement or equality, since ethnic, religious, and cultural differences exist in almost all countries even more than we might realize.

Having said so, I would like to add that in many conflicts that have minority dimensions, the position and reactions of the world community have not always been successful or helpful even to those minorities who demanded international or regional interventions. In my opinion, tribal, ethnic, religious, and sectarian minority aspirations have been on the rise because of several factors, among which are:

The tendency to politicize these issues as tools of foreign policy and justifications for regional or international pressure to effect behavioral policy changes, thus in turn raising the ceiling of demands and aspirations of minority groups, and in some cases hindering reconciliation processes; and the increasing level of acceptance on the part of the international community for solutions based on minority lines (in particular ethnic, tribal, and sectarian divisions) rather than national identities. (Examples could be cited in the Great Lakes region, e.g., Yugoslavia, as well as in today's Kosovo and Iraq.) It is my view that solid, lasting, and long-term solutions for any conflicts should not be hostage to divisive minority thinking or to the tendency to appease under-privileged groups. Instead these solutions should aim to harmonize relations among the target community and preserve their unity while acknowledging the specificities and rights of all minority groups and providing guarantees for the observance of these rights. The interventions of the international community must be aimed at supporting the forces of reconciliation and inclusion coupled with a political will to act as an arbitrator whenever necessary.

[5] Some analysts argue that President Sadat in the late 1970s sought to offset the rising role of the influential Coptic Pope Shenoda by bringing back to domestic politics, political Islam and that, as a result, things got out of hand ,leading to his assassination by Muslim fundamentalists

[6] Some scholars ask, Could an Iranian nuclear power situation force regional parity and stability such as is found in the model of the Indian subcontinent, the case of India and Pakistan?  Or would such a step lead to a nuclear race in the region, with other players sending the area to the brink of a nuclear arms race?  Has the use of force successfully changed the situation in Iraq and Lebanon, where we saw the failure of a regular army in the wake of irregular military resistance? Could the stability of the Gulf region be better served if Iran were to join the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)?  Or is Iran a permanent source of threat to some Gulf countries in the wake of unresolved disputes over some islands?  Is the presence of foreign forces in Qatar CENTCOM an element of instability causing the host nation problems rather than solutions?  Or is the presence of CENTCOM a reason for the security and logistical support for the implementation of U.N. resolutions and international legitimacy? These are all provocative, conceptual questions that add to our dilemma.

[7] A good example is the Egyptian medical hospital in Afghanistan that is frequently visited by the locals since the resident doctors are Moslems, allowing for medical care for female patients by female doctors and so on.

[8] Some argue that the overriding success of Hamas in legislative elections in Palestine was due to the failure of Fattah to present the population with the services needed.  This case of neglect was used by Hamas to build hospitals, schools, etc., as an alternative to the poor services and endemic corruption present.

[9] As Steve C. Ropp argued,  “The potential rise of populism in Europe and South America should not be viewed by policy planners as posing just another specific type of security threat. For unlike the traditional, irregular, catastrophic, or disruptive ones normally considered in future scenarios, populism poses a potential challenge to the underlying political substructure that has given us the collective material capability and moral legitimacy to deal with all of these threats. In the final analysis, our ability to project power to deal with the whole spectrum of security challenges that the United States will face in the future depends upon our ability to deal with the potential challenges emerging from within representative democracy itself.” Populism as Ropp argues can even lead to state failure.

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