The Gulf Crisis, US Mediation, and Future Trends Event

(speaking in foreign language) (audience applauding) (speaking in foreign language) (speaking in foreign language) (female speaking in foreign language) (male speaking in foreign language) (female speaking in foreign language) (male speaking in foreign language) (female speaking in foreign language) (male speaking in foreign language) (female speaking in foreign language) (male speaking in foreign language) (female speaking in foreign language) (speaking in foreign language) – Good evening, thank you very much you know, from a security perspective this is really a key issue. The first point I would
say is that we live in an era of insecurity across the globe. Every region is dealing with new threats. A resurgent Russia, a United States which is a traditionally dominant actor, which is losing its
credibility and legitimacy in many different ways over
the last decade or more. So it’s no surprise in those terms that this region is experiencing
upheaval and turmoil. And that’s on the global level. On the regional level, what you see is that this crisis is borne
out of what I would call a new strategic vision on behalf of the United Arab
Emirates and Saudi Arabia. Over the last three to four years they have tried to implement a new vision of collective security in this region which really answers only the interests and objectives of the
UAE and Saudi Arabia. And at the center of this is a view that the GCC is not a viable organization with which to achieve their long term strategic and security objectives. And so they have attempted
over the last two to three years to sideline the GCC, and to look instead to
informal security alliances in Yemen, in the Counter
Terror Alliance in Qatar. And they both have adopted a
offensive security strategy that overturns years of the GCC serving as a defensive model. And so that is the first point. The second point is– – Mm hm. – That despite having this vision, what has happened, and
what the Qatar crisis shows very clearly is
that they have failed to substitute the defensive model built around the GCC with an
viable offensive strategy. And what they’ve also done in the process is show that although
the GCC got many bad, got a bad press in many quarters, the GCC as a security
actor was quite effective. It was created as you
know in the early 1980s as a defensive security model to provide a defensive capability to keep the gulf and the GCC states safe. But in the last 25 years, it’s
also achieved other things. For example, it is proven
to be a check on Iran. At the same time it
hasn’t been so effective that it’s been a challenge to Iran that has put them on the offensive. Secondly, despite all its
failings and all its foils, it has provided a mechanism
for the GCC states to settle their differences internally without resorting to military action. That is now something that has been, gone by the wayside. And so what you see, the first reality is that the GCC is being missed. Then you have the United States. and the United States as we know, is the leading, or the
traditional security actor, the dominant security actor in the GCC. And I would argue, that certainly under this administration, if
the Saudi and the UAE had showed, and been able to provide an effective substitute for the GCC, if it had been a source of stability, then it’s very possible that they would not be intervening now to
find a solution to the crisis. But the Saudis and the UAE have failed to find an alternative. And their actions have turned the most stable part of the Arab world into an unstable area which is intolerable for external actors
including the United States, but also China, the Europeans,
and other Arab countries, other leading Muslim countries, Pakistan, Malaysia, Indonesia. So you have a vacuum now. And in a vacuum you have opportunities. And the one thing I
would say in those terms is the United States has approached this conflict in two phases. The first phase, from June of 2017 until the beginning of 2018, they seem to be receptive to this new Saudi, UAE security vision. When they realized that this was not achieving stability and
promoting their interests, vis a vis the war on
terror, vis a vis Iran, they have now attempted to intervene and to find an alternative solution which underpins Qatar’s vital role to the security of the region. That reminisces in a sort of positive way for the GCC as a security actor. And most importantly it
reduces the legitimacy of the UAE and the Saudi Arabia’s vision of leadership and their security vision. And what is that security vision? It is one, to settle differences through military action, or hard power efforts. And two, to abandon the only existing regional structures of private
stability which is the GCC. So what you see now is the Untied States having a challenge to try and find, to find a compromise solution
on the security front among the different actors so that they, from their perspective can get back to the important business of the region, which is promoting their interests. The GCC states, Qatar is looking to find a security compromise and
confide it with security vis a vis the GCC, its former GCC partners who are now turned against them. And the other gulf factors
and unsure of where to go. And so that is the situation you have. (speaking in foreign language) – Well firstly, thank you very much to the organizers for inviting me to participate in this event. I’m delighted. In terms of the crisis, how it’s unfolded, I think one of the interesting dimensions to look at it is through the issue of the natural gas
market, and the economic dimensions relating to that. There’s a curious imbalance
that exists in the gulf region in that it is only Qatar
which is gas secure, in that it actually has the, it has the resources as
an exporting country. Yet all of the other states
in the GCC are gas insecure. The United Arab Emirates, for example, has about 40% of its gas
needs provided by Qatar. Oman is an importing country. Bahrain as of next year
will be importing LNG, and Saudi Arabia is
moving along those lines. And so is Kuwait. Kuwait is already importing natural gas. I’m not trying to suggest here that when you’re looking at the economic dimension of the natural gas sector that trade in natural gas, of Qatar supplying its neighbors would actually lead to some type of reconciliation or
peace, because you know, you’ve had in Europe the Soviet, during the Cold War the Soviet Union was providing Europe with
natural gas throughout the you know, the periods of time when it was increasingly hostile. But, in terms of moving forward, you know, if you tried to
think in the long term. The greater integration of the gas market could actually be something to look at. But I think the, when you look at the way in which Qatar is supplying gas to its regional neighbors. It is supplying natural gas
to the United Arab Emirates, and then further on to Oman through a pipeline based network,
but not anywhere else. And what you’re seeing now is that Oman has moved toward signing
an agreement with Iran to having a pipeline to
import natural gas from Iran. And equally there’s talk about Kuwait potentially doing the same thing. But more broadly speaking
I think that the challenge with regard to the natural gas sector is that there is an oversupply of natural gas in the
international market. With the shale revolution
that’s taking place in the United States you can see that now the United States is probably one of the key, is going
to be overtaking Qatar in the long term as a leading supplier of natural gas in the
international markets. Australia as of the next,
maybe two or three years will be overtaking Qatar
as the leading supplier, and then a few years after
that the United States. But where is the United Arab Emirates, where is Kuwait getting
their natural gas from? Now it’s increasingly coming
from the United States. So that’s interesting how you can see the dimension of how you know, it’s become more internationalized as a marketplace. I think you know, from
the broad dimensions when you look in the long term, I thing if you’re trying to see some form of post conflict resolution, you could see Qatar making good use of its natural gas towards doing that. (speaking in foreign language) (speaking in foreign language) (speaking in foreign language) (speaking in foreign language) (speaking in foreign language) (speaking in foreign language) (speaking in foreign language) (speaking in foreign language) (speaking in foreign language) (speaking in foreign language) (speaking in foreign language) (speaking in foreign language) – Okay thank you very much. And just to link this with the
previous speakers at point. You know, this is a crisis
for some actors involved, from some perspectives,
but for the United States, I see it very much as an opportunity. It’s an opportunity after many years of having lost their way, as presenting themselves as a dominant and provider of security,
stability and order in the region, to take the initiative back. To I guess you could say, demonstrate to all of the actors, both in this region, and the
external actors in this region, like Russia, like China, that they are the only party to
the conflict to the party that can find a mediated agreement between the different parties. So it’s an opportunity for them. Having said that, that does not mean that it has the capacity to impose its will on the local actors. Because although it has established since the January meeting in Washington that it values very highly the strategic and economic partnership with Qatar, it also values very highly the strategic and economic partnership with the UAE, and with Saudi Arabia. So what it has to do, it has to find a way to bring these parties together, not simply because the United States needs to benefit from
stability in this region. You could argue that it benefits from instability in this region because it can increase its leverage with all the different parties for vying for its support. But why it really needs to find a solution is to that it can demonstrate
on the global stage, with everyone watching it, for the first time in many years, that it is the, I guess you could say, the dominant international actor without which you cannot move forward in an era of progress and stability. And I think that is why
you see Rex Tillerson, before he was fired, and Secretary Mattis very committed to solving this problem. It is basically, you could say, a platform, a theater, and a stage on which they can try and reassert the American position. That’s the first point. The second point is can they? And if they cannot what does it mean for the relations for the future? Well personally, my own view, and I don’t think anybody really knows, but I think right now, it is difficult for them
to achieve that objective. – Mm hm. – To be an effective
mediator of a conflict you need to be united at home. And there’s significant division
within the United States. There are some schools of thought that think you know, the different actors are waiting to see what the
November elections bring. To see how much credibility Donald Trump, has going forward as
a foreign policy actor with maybe, possibly democratic congress. On the other hand, you know, not only do you need to be, not only do you need to be an effective, have political unity at home to push forward something like this, but you also have to have a strategic objective and end view in the region. And there’s a sense that the United States is working on an ad hoc
and arbitrary basis. So there’s not a lot of confidence that this can be brought together given the shortfalls in
American capabilities and the administration’s preoccupation with other issues right now. And then the third issue is Russia. A very important issue in this region. All of the different
parties to this conflict have looked to Russia
as a way of leveraging their relationship with the United States. And so this is not a crisis for Russia. This is an opportunity from
a different perspective. And history has shown that
when you have conflicts between secondary actors, okay not global powers like
Russia and the United States, all it takes is for one
or two external actors to present obstacles that,
it makes it very hard. So I’d say in historical
terms and objective terms it’s unlikely that the US
can successfully mediate. The only reason it will happen is if the three key
parties to this crisis, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar have a mutual benefit and
interest in coming together. Now we know that the Qataris
want to end this conflict. It’s unlikely that the Saudis and the UAE are going to end this conflict unless they can do one thing. And that’s end it in a way that doesn’t completely undermine their claim to leadership of this region. And end it in a way that
doesn’t completely undermine and reverse their efforts to build a new strategic region in this
region with them at the head. And I’m not sure that the United States can bring together these
opposing views and interests. (speaking in foreign language) – Yeah, I mean I think
it’s tempting to say that the United States
has economically benefited from the military agreements
that it’s actually had with Saudi Arabia, which you know, I’ve seen upwards of 350 billion dollars. You know whether these things
are actually materialized at the end of the day is a
different issue altogether. But I wouldn’t really say that there’s an economic dimension towards how the United States
has actually benefited from this crisis because ultimately it hasn’t had an impact on the oil market. The, actually OPEC is actually had to cut production of course, in order to raise the price of oil. And I think that’s really largely because of the development of the, or the revolution in the shale industry in the Unites States, which is now allowed the Untied States to become an oil exporter. And I think because of that, then you’re seeing the
decline in oil prices, move towards US self
sufficiency in terms of energy. That really, the crisis, is not having an economic dimension
on the United States, it’s still being kept under wraps. But what I would say, is I mean, if I could maybe touch on the previous question to an extent, is that, you know, I think there is also an issue really for how the United States could try and reassert its
credibility within the region. Because if we were to look back at how the United States has turned its back on its close allies, if we look back as long
as Osla Boleslawiec, when you know, such a close ally, that then the United States under Obama, he turned its back. Plus also we can see how the United States signed the nuclear agreement with Iran without involving the GCC states. I think then there is
an issue of credibility of trust with the US administrations. Now President Trump has taken the role of the United States to
a different dimension, which is really one of
taking a hands off approach. And really leaving it to regional actors. And I think you can see that with regard to how Saudi Arabia has been given more flexibility in terms of how it can actually operate as an, undertake its strategic security
policy within the region. Ultimately speaking I think when you, to look at it more long term, I don’t think you can really see that the summit that will take place is really going to achieve a great deal. I mean I’m quite pessimistic that it will actually achieve its results, because ultimately speaking, I do agree with my
colleague that the strategic objectives of these states
is one of regime change. And having them to move away from that and move towards some form of meaningful reconciliation is unlikely. So it’s a long answer to a short question. But it’s you know, the economic dimension is not really there but, the wider strategic issues are one which are very deeply rooted. And I think mediation on this, unless you’re going to
see a proactive engagement from the White House on this, and a willingness by President
Trump to actually do that, I don’t really see us actually moving towards some form of reconciliation. It is gonna be more of
a longstanding crisis. (speaking in foreign language) (speaking in foreign language) – Mm hm. (speaking in foreign language) (speaking in foreign language) (speaking in foreign language) (speaking in foreign language) (dramatic music) (speaking in foreign language) – [Hammad Hassan Amas]
Thank you very much. Hammad Hassan Amas, Qatar University. I quite liked one of the comments, put it very clearly, and I don’t know if that got translated. The comment said, “Trump
is with whoever pays more.” So to what extent do
you think this is true? Thank you. (moderator speaking in foreign language) – [Fahad Al Ameri] Thank you
very much for this nice event. This is Fahad Al Ameri, I’m a BHC candidate in Oxford University. I wanna, I wanna ask one question. And I wanna ask Dr. Stephen about it. Actually we all as countries, we have our dignity, and our
loyalty to our government. And all of you as a government, understand that we have all this feelings. But one question. Why always United States
give up about their allies? If this case is happened
to, let us say, Israel, are they gonna face the same issue, waiting for a year to be sorted out? Thank you very much. (moderator speaking in foreign language) (tapping on microphone) (audience member speaking
in foreign language) (moderator speaking in foreign language) – [Ahmed Chahen] Amed Chanen. I want to know the Qatari
government response to the locating countries claim that Qatar poses a security
threat to the region. Because recently it was
reported in the news, especially New York Times,
about the falconers, the kidnapped falconers,
the deal that was done, and the Syrian, the four Syrian cities that were involved in that deal. Which was in favor for
the Iran government. So I would like to know what is the Qatari government response to that. Thank you. (moderator speaking in foreign language) – [Haslah Misnan] Haslah Misnan. I’m a Georgetown University alumni. Please excuse me to ask
this question in English. Considering the effects of the blockade on the Qatari populous and how it sort of galvanized everyone, and sort of unified
everyone under one message, to what extent can the Qatari government realistically make concessions
during the mediation effort? Is it even something that’s
plausible or on the table? And if so what are the concessions that the government could make that would, you know, still be approved
by its domestic base? Thank you. (moderator speaking in foreign language) (audience member speaking
in foreign language) (moderator speaking in foreign language) (audience member speaking
in foreign language) (moderator speaking in foreign language) (audience member speaking
in foreign language) (moderator speaking in foreign language) (audience member speaking
in foreign language) (moderator speaking in foreign language) (audience member speaking
in foreign language) (moderator speaking in foreign language) (audience member speaking
in foreign language) (moderator speaking in foreign language) (audience member speaking
in foreign language) (moderator speaking in foreign language) – [Audience Member] I just have a question for anybody at the panel. Generally the view is that the US cannot perhaps act as a
mediator in the region. So would it make more sense for a group of mediators like Europe,
and China, and Russia, similar to the way that the
Iran nuclear deal was achieved? To have a group of mediators
to resolve the crisis? (moderator speaking in foreign language) – [Shama Aziado] Hello
my name is Shama Aziado and I work at Qatar Foundation. I have noticed that the
general views around here on the panel are saying
that it doesn’t seem that there is any solution, or positive solution coming soon. My question is, now supposing that there is no close solution, what are the options for Qatar in terms of external allies. We have talked about mediation, but we haven’t talked about
possible allies in the future, especially that, the US does
not seem to be in a position to like side, take a side among
the conflicting countries. Thank you. (moderator speaking in foreign language) – [Noradin] Thank you very much. I’m Noradin from Doha City. I forgot what cities. I think, don’t you think
that the gulf crisis indicates that this
region is least important for American policy
because America now produce more oil, and Israel can protect itself. Then the second question is, if we go really to Camp David, what we really have is an agreement. And in conflict studies we know agreements is really different from reconciliation, and normalization of
the ties and relations. Because there is this to trauma. And the popular trauma in the people that it cannot really, you know, needs time and sometimes really, cannot really be helped. Thank you. (speaking in foreign language) – Alright, thank you. Thank you for all the questions. The first thing I’d say is this. Personally I, the first question was, and is Trump basically influenced on a transactional basis, in other words, does he basically side with policies because it gives him more
than the next person. And that’s very possible. But that does not mean in itself that the US is not going to (trails off) that’s the first point,
the second point is, I want to preface my
answer by saying this. I think it’s important to realize that this blockade is not an end. It’s a means to an end for
the blockaded countries. And it’s also important to realize that this blockade does
not happen in a vacuum. It is part of a wider, a regional, situation that includes Yemen as one of the questioners mentioned. But includes relations with
countries like Pakistan. Relations with countries
like Russia and China. You know there are two things that I think we need to take into account when we’re thinking about
all of these questions. In terms of the US as a viable mediator which I think was your central point that you asked me to expand on. You know, most actors in
the international system, most of the time, act to
pursue their own interests. The United States does it. Qatar does it. Every country does it. So on one level the United States will be a viable mediator
if it’s in the interest of the local parties
to allow it to mediate. And if it’s in its
interest to push mediation in a way it’ll bring them together. And there are so many variables with it, not that, that make people doubt
that they can do it. That’s the fist point. The second point I wanna
make in those terms is that I personally do
not believe that this is, you know, a blockade, a
crisis that is created from the White House. I believe that it is a crisis
created from the White House only to the extent that the local actors, the UAE and Saudi Arabia
saw an opportunity, given the absence of the
United States in leadership. And that feeds into a second question which was right towards the end, which is, is the region
an important actor, an important region for the United States. This region is a, this region is less important, given the points made by my
two panelists, copanielists in terms of gas, and the United States increasing their self
reliance in these issues. And also its allies. Because it starts with the United States as not being as reliant on energy from this region, as its allies. But what is the role of a
dominant, international actor? To provide things for
the needs of its allies, like Japan, like Europe, so as these countries find alternatives, this region in oil, and gas, at least becomes less significant. However, this region is hugely significant to the United States. If it’s unstable and if it’s collapsing, and if the countries in this region, that were previously an oasis of stability become an oasis of instability. The United States cannot
ignore that happening. And so in those terms I think, it has a real interest
in keeping status quo. And this leads me to the third point. The third point is, as I said, this crisis is not, this blockade is not an end in itself. It was initiated so that
the UAE and Saudi Arabia could consolidate their dominance to be able to, and
achieve their longer term strategic goals of the
leadership of this region. As long as this blockade continues, and they are unable to do
so, they have a problem. And the United States has
the opportunity to not only, it has acknowledged that reality. The failure of Saudis to succeed in achieving their longer term objectives by this blockade causes them new problems. If the United States can play on that and find a way that they can remove themselves from this crisis. I think that it’s possible But I’m not sure that they
have the capabilities to do so. I don’t know if you want anymore. But I mean that’s– (speaking in foreign language) – Fantastic questions, thank you. Well firstly, I mean, one of the questions dealt with why does the United States not stand with its allies? Why do we see that change? And I think the important
provision to make, or the important note to make here is that foreign policy in the United States is a product of bureaucratic
processes, traditionally. So you see a different
positions being taken by the Department of Defense, the State Department, and the White House. It’s usually in competition. However, what we’re seeing
with President Trump is something pretty unique, in the sense that we’re seeing a very, White House driven foreign policy. Which is supposed to be the prerogative of the President anyway. But we’re not seeing the full input of either the National Security Council, or the Department of Defense,
or the State Department, which is you know, it’s something which, I mean, reminds me a little bit of during the time of
Richard Nixon as a President. So it’s really like bypassing
all the normal arms, it’s a very executive presidency. I think the, how does
Israel figure into this, Israel figures into the crisis in the way in which, Iran
figures into the crisis. Because ultimately speaking, if you were to look back at the, right from the beginning
when President Trump, when he was a candidate, was making his speeches. I think it was in March 2016 to the AIPAC, the American Israeli
Public Affairs Committee, he came across as the most pro Israeli President that we’ve seen. And yet, unlike many Presidents, who also, who always appeared pro Israeli at the time of the election,
in the candidate times. Trump actually realized it, in the sense that actually, he has now declared the
presence of the US embassy towards, to Jerusalem, which is a break historically speaking. I think as far as Trump is concerned, he has a close affinity towards Israel. And I think also you can see that from the personal way in which he uses his family’s extensions towards them. He is, his position on
Iran is very porkish. And I think that is aligned to how he actually has that position
towards Israel as well. So that’s the Israel angle to it. And I think when you look at the Saudis, and the UAE in particular, how that figures into the crisis, the dimension I put to this is, is that the, Saudi Arabia is, primary or its strongest national security threat is defined as Iran. So in that sense you see an alignment between how Saudi Arabia sees Iran. How that then actually, and also how it potentially feeds into the type of ultimate deal that President Trump is
seeking to actually achieve with regard to the Arab-Israeli conflict. So there are multiple dynamics going on all at the same time. But ultimately speaking
this has given Trump, or I think it feeds into Trump giving a bit more leverage to the Saudi, he’s giving more flexibility
towards Saudi Arabia in terms of how they operate. I mean some of the other questions, if I may just maybe comment on them. They’re great questions I think the, in terms of the
potential for future mediation, I think, the prognosis I would give is, we’re not likely to see
a change in the position whilst we have the White
House under President Trump. Because I don’t see him applying pressure on the regional states to actually force, or to apply meaningful pressure to actually move towards
some form of drawback in how their dealing with Qatar. And so, I mean we haven’t seen any Tweets, we haven’t seen the statements. (speaking in foreign language) (speaking in foreign language) (speaking in foreign language) (audience applauding) (dramatic closing music)

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