London, Asharq Al-Awsat- A report published yesterday by the International Institute for Strategic Studies [IISS] called for regional countries to participate in the negotiations surrounding Iran’s nuclear ambitions, and outlined five reasons why this would prove to be beneficial. The report also called for Western countries to participate in the military efforts in Afghanistan “to limit the violence taking place on the ground” and also to identify “modest and reasonable long-term objectives” to achieve stability in Afghanistan.
The Strategic Survey of 2009 published by the London-based IISS think-tank specified that “it would be beneficial to look for mechanisms in order to bring some important Arab countries to work with Iran in order to reach a Modus Vivendi.” The report went on to say “in contrast to the six-party talks (that were held on the North Korean Nuclear Program), no regional countries are participating in the negotiations on the Iranian Nuclear Program.”
During the launch of the 2009 Strategic Survey in London which was attended by Asharq Al-Awsat, IISS Director-General Dr. John Chipman listed five reasons why it would be beneficial for regional countries to participate in the negotiations on Iran’s nuclear program.
Dr. Chipman said that firstly these regional countries “will be the direct losers if Iran acquires nuclear weapons.”
He also said that these countries and other countries in the region also fear that if they do not take part in these negotiations then they may end up becoming “part of the package” of a major deal that would see Iran agree to give up its nuclear ambitions in return for a greater role in the security of the region.
Dr. Chipman also said that it would be beneficial for these countries to participate in the negotiations in order to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons in the region. He said that countries such as Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Egypt, will desire nuclear weaponry if Iran gain nuclear capabilities. Chipman said that it would therefore “be better if these countries participated in the diplomatic process to put this in the context of anti-proliferation” of nuclear weapons.
Dr. Chipman also said that in the event of diplomacy failing, then these countries and others “will be important as part of a regional policy to contain Iran.”
The Director-General of the IISS, Dr. John Chipman gave the fifth and final reason for regional countries participating in negotiations with Iran on its nuclear ambition as being in order to achieve peace in the Middle East. Dr. Chipman said that “the US administrations special envoys must find clever ways” to link the nuclear file with peace, and “look for ways to engage countries, especially Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt, in engineering regional security that aims to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear state.”
For his part, Mark Fitzpatrick, a researcher affiliated to IISS who specializes in nuclear proliferation said during the launch of the 2009 Strategic Survey that “Iran does not currently possess nuclear weapons” but there is a “red line” between having the capability to produce nuclear weapons, and actually possessing nuclear arms. Fitzpatrick also said “Iran’s possession of nuclear weapons would ignite military action” against it on the part of Israel.
As for Afghanistan, the report indicated that the political and military efforts undertaken there by Western countries is currently in its lowest level of public support. The report also pointed out that NATO has no desire to turn Afghanistan into a protectorate, and that the primary goal [in Afghanistan] is to develop the capacity of local authorities. The IISS report called for NATO to “reduce the combat presence in the field” and criticized the calls for NATO forces to be withdrawn from Afghanistan.
During the launch of the IISS report, Chipman said “reducing the combat presence in Afghanistan is important to give political lifeblood to the Pakistani government, so that it can continue its operations against the new members of the Taliban and members of Al Qaeda, whether they are those who located locally or those who have moved to Afghanistan.”
When asked about the scenario surrounding a military withdrawal from Afghanistan, Dr. Chipman said “the main objective” of Western military action was to “prevent the Taliban from granting a safe haven to Al Qaeda” and this resulted in “the withdrawal of Al Qaeda members to Pakistan, Somalia, and other areas, and so if there is an immediate withdrawal [from Afghanistan] then Al Qaeda could return.”
For his part, Dana Allin, the editor of the Survivor publication that is published by IISS, stressed the “necessity to identify modest and realistic long-term goals in Afghanistan.”
An important part of the report was also devoted to the global financial crisis. The IISS report stated that the two most important events to take place in 2009 were the election of US President Barack Obama, and the global financial crisis. The report also stated that “the economic crisis overwhelmed the ambitious efforts of the new US administration”
For his part, Alexander Nicoll, Editor of the IISS Strategic Survey said “The emergence of the G20 was the greatest result of the economic crisis.” He also said that the end of this crisis depends upon decisions and questions that we have no answer to as of yet. Nicoll added “We still have to take important decisions on controls (of the work of financial institutions) as well as reform international financial institutions.”