To : All the interested partners
Fm : Ahmed Moustafa “Conference Participant fm Alexandria, Egypt
Sub : Peace studies in the Middle East Contextualizing & Globalizing
Organized by : Swedish Institute Alexandria for Dialogue Between Civilizations
Life & Peace Institute, Sweden (23-24) Apr. 2007
Date : May.03rd.2007
Peace is considered as a philosophical idea that makes all the casts or the parties of of any community or society (local, regional and global) surviving together, being tolerant, accepting each other and get unified, when all of them feel equal, enjoying the same rights and obliged with the same duties, once these equilibrium and socio-congruence get disordered because of either distraction, negligence, marginalization, oppression or discrimination, the peace will disappear, and as a consequence both conflicts, clashes and disputes will reveal and appear among all the parties of society.
“This is exactly what we had achieved in our workshop and project of Inter-cultural Conflict Resolution Course for Peace Trainers, Teachers and Multipliers under the umbrella of both Euro-med Foundation (Anna Lindh), Center for Analysis of Dispute and its Modes of Settlement (CADMOS) and Inter-College, Nicosia-Cyprus in between (18-25) Feb. 2007”
As usual the Swedish institute of Alexandria surprising us by very smart, intellectual and unique events, because since I saw the advertising of the above mentioned title of this elite conference, I’d loved to attend, may be my tendency as a human rights activist or as a blogger to see, discuss and present analysis, however the topic was more than prefect, because all the participants having some sort of common background as (Peace, Human Rights Activists, Academicians in both Human Sciences & Religions, Diplomats and of course Intelligentsia), Frankly speaking we didn’t feel at all that we are strangers, however we felt that we are just one family.
Hence that giving me the opportunity to address my deepest respects and regards to the patriarch/the big Brother of this place his Excellency Mr. Jan Henningsen as the director of this intellect smart institute, not only that, but also to his smart and generous staff at the institute for supplying all the logistical needs and the means of success to get it made.
So, due to all the above mentioned reasons please find my simple analysis report here below for this extra-ordinary event:
Sessions & Discussions
Concerning the opening session “Globalizing peace research in the Arab context” that shared by both his Excellency Mr. Aly Maher the director of Peace Studies Center at The Bibliotheca Alexandrina, and Dr. Hassan Nafaa the representative of Muntada al-Fikr al-‘Araby, Amman, we do agree with all the good points that his excellency had highlighted about the peace mission and process globally after the world war II, however using some very general terms like “Identity and Specificity” of states, those terms could undermine a lot of things, because we can remark genuinely that all the states globally preserve and protect their identity, but in a parallel with elaborating and applying all the esteemed codes of both human rights and democracy, so those nations get developed very fast, by the opposite in our region we use those big general terms to keep the stability of our authoritarian regimes as it is, and not applying the other fundamental codes.
Regarding the presentation and the good analysis of Dr. Hassan Nafaa I quote the smart comparison in between Al-Ahram Research Center and the Peace Studies Center at the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, because it was a real an academic comparison, however with respects to all the above mentioned local centers and institutes, we still have a lag in the system of operating those centers that related 100% to the lack of the real academic freedom in both our universities and institutes in the Arab region, so the standard and the credibility of studies that presented from those institutes or centers remain away from its global equivalent institutes or centers.
The next session was “Understanding Middle East Peace Process” presented by his Excellency the Former Foreign Minister of Egypt Mr. Ahmed Maher, without any doubt his excellency highlighted and tackled some good points e.g. the absence of the proper Arab agenda for peace process since the time of the former president of Egypt Sadat, the Arab existence still not strong enough to affect positively in that process, the absence of the Arab unified situation and finally that the Israeli side doesn’t find any mutual interest through dealing with our side, because our “supply is always over our demand, so we are cheap enough”.
Some of the attendees added that the Israeli side insisting on distracting the principles of both respecting the other, tolerance and cohabitation altogether, in addition to embracing the principle of monopolizing the existence of God/Allah, not only that, some added that if both parties in the process respecting the global charts of Human Rights the crisis will be solved, Mr. Maher added also that of course there is another fundamental track “he meant the American situation” which coming always against our side, not only that but also draped with both ignorance and negligence.
In the same day Dr. Samir Karam who represented the Arab Unity Studies Center highlighted in his session “Reflection on experience of work on the Arabic SPIRI year-book” on the common work that had been done and the collaboration with SPIRI institute of Sweden in preparing the Arabic version, because this year book is considered as one of the most important references book especially in contemporary peace studies, or for researchers who work actively in that field.
Also Dr. Zoughbi Zoughbi who represented the Palestinian Conflict Resolution Center in Bethlehem and Ms. Marie Loller who represented Mar Elias Peace Center submitted a perfect session concerning “Methodologies of Reconciliation” through their unique experience in both Palestine and Germany, not only that, but also how could they achieve progress in both developing the culture of peace and conflict resolution, and it was the end for the first day.
As the first day, the second day was also full of strong sessions not less than the first, because there was a variety of thematics to be tackled, the first session called “Disarmament, Conflicts & Arms Trade – Introducing the SPIRI Year-book 2006” which had been presented by Dr. Daniel Nord the Deputy of SPIRI Center who highlighted many topics e.g. the creation and the foundation of the center since 40 years before in 1966, the administration and the board of the center, also as an international lawyer he explained the methodology of creation the year-book, how many researchers participated in this unique and worthy work (he mentioned about 50-60 international researchers), the issues discussed that mainly focus on international peace & security, the contemporary meaning of peace and the stakeholders served, the SPIRI chair setup in UN, exploiting the right human resources in work, values, transparency, facts available to public opinion that belongs to security issues, how they spend money, how they help both the states, and companies that need security studies to invest some big funds in some place on the earth, how they got the success when they prepared issues in both Arabic and Chinese as mentioned by Dr. Samir Karam.
Dr. Nord added that they offer another studies in both Dictatorship and Democracy, he said also that the role of the US right now is completely different, because they are the only polar global power right now, so after disposal of the socialism and communism there was a big empty space for supremacy and hegemony, also he spoke about the clash between civilizations, however when he exposed to (Terrorism) he mentioned that they have very limited researches or researchers in that field especially after 9/11, but they do some sort of endeavor to increase research in that field, also he talked about the rotation of the administration and how they select new director each 5 years, when most of the Arab institutes in general keep its own administrations for more than 30 years.
Dr. Nord commented on that they have some sort of transparency and an administrative system based on highly qualifying job requirements to be respected, concerning the situation of Iran, he really mentioned that they have a reasonable role in this crisis due to their role in focus of reconciliation (please note that the Iranian situation is legally right, because it matches with the articles of the international treaty or convention that belongs to the prohibition of the proliferation of nuclear and mass-destruction weapons, not only that expected to exploit this energy after 10 years at least said Former President his Excellency Mohamed Khatamy at the Bibliotheca Alexandrina during his quick visit to Egypt), also they have a very big role of verification they do on both states and organizations concerning the militant expenditure through a flexible controlling and monitoring system they elaborate.
Then the role of the Co-organizer (Life & Peace Institute) of this conference came to show up in a session called “the role of religion in situations of armed conflict” which had been presented by Dr. Anne Kubai, Dr. Kubai referred that the focus of the institute is both topics that relate to religion, conflict human rights, justice and environment respectively, also mentioned that the institute had edited 5 versions or publications concerning the above mentioned activities, of course the institute had a big role in the ethnic clash or conflict in Congo Brazzaville especially with the police power, because the institute developed the police performance to be more humanitarian in dealing with ordinary casts of people, then the institute of course has some sort of unique activities and will be increased in Somalia.
Dr. Kubai highlighted on the methodology they use to verify and to update both information and data they get in the light of both research due to collaboration with international institutes and universities, then through the field work to apply both academic and practical modalities in that task.
Also she spoke about one big project elaborated right now concerning Peace Education which contains translating 11 books into French language especially for the Francophone African region, not only that but also this project will last for 3 years, in addition to many case studies will be affected that belong to the role of religion in conflict.
Frankly speaking the presentation was more than perfect, however I’ve 3 points to be highlighted as following:
We agree on that the inter-cultural/inter-religious dialogue is very important tool for cooperation in between orient & occident or north & south, however the existed dilemma is, Are we really qualified and aptitudes as states of both south and orient for an equal fruitable dialogue without an impressive well prepared agenda? I doubt.
Also 9/11 was a very good and impressive occasion to develop the religious speech/discourse in the Pan-Muslim world, not only that, there is a initiative right now elaborated among both the Swedish institute, Euro-Med Foundation (Anna Lindh) and Al-Azhar in order to develop the curriculum of the elementary level schools here in Egypt to be more tolerant and out of racism.
In addition to that, there is a very dangerous phenomenon taking place very genuinely concerning politicizing religion especially in the states of south or orient, note that the most dangerous thing is that some states in the middle east can buy, corrupt or bribe the intellects in order to market/promote for their own lag regimes ideology under the cover of religion, in addition to adopting some religious TV channels diffusing the same lag ideas, really those ideas doesn’t belong to religion itself or logic, however they promote it just for their own authoritarian oppressive political regimes interest and stability thereto.
Afternoon Dr. Abdel Mun’im Sa’eed (the director of Al-Ahram Center for Political & Strategic Studies) fired the the conference due his session “Conflicts in other regions seen from an Arab perspective”, Dr. Sa’eed had formulated some characteristics for the global conflict that taking place right now like it’s a conflict in between both Rich & Poor, North & South, IT & Non IT holders and finally Digital &Non Digital, he also highlighted upon the Arch of crises of Persinski, and how it could be the arch of peace through regrouping that could taking place among the states as a tool of an expected security, however the mechanism is absent, he referred also to 9/11 a turning point or as a shift, because all the concepts of the old orders of deterrence had been changed, he added also that the occident represented in US is always describe us as either unqualified dialogue party, intolerant, source of dictatorship and terrorism or stereotype party, not only that the occident always indicate to its own transcendence.
Hence, we wonder who created Al-Qaeda?, he added also that the religion for some of our states or player groups was the solution or the only solution as we see and remark right now, without any doubt the changes of the places of the conflict due the updated terms of the meaning of the legitimacy helped a lot in marketing the stock of weapons (the biggest global profitable business right now), because the deals of weapons with US this year reached US$ 56 billions, but not only the US having a deals like that, but also we heard recently about this corrupted deal the called the Black Dove in between the GBR and Saudi Arabia that had been disclosed by the British press as the biggest and the most corrupted weapons deal in the history of GBR.
Dr Sa’eed also referred to the cultural crises that taking place between Occident and Orient especially the latest Danish cartoons, however I’m agree with the analysis of our unique political thinker and journalist Mr. Mohamed Hassanien Hiekal in his program on Aljazeerah the last week, when he tackled the phenomenon of politicizing the religion and how the Muslim groups exploited this incident to press the Muslim regimes to collect charities from their sides, and left many works and books of some orientalists that really deform the image of Islam, finally Dr Sa’eed tackled the battle of hearts and minds and how it should be the congruence in between hearts and minds, in addition to the credibility of the political regimes here in the region.
Dr. Sa’eed answered a question about the role of the intelligentsia in changing societies especially the societies of south, when he added that the societies of south should embrace the economy and the mechanism of the free market & trade through that the intelligentsia can change the revealed minds and mentality in society, so he had given us an example about Spain in 60s of the last century and how the new market trends and mechanism changed the society from a conservative catholic society in 60s to be a active member in the European Union in 80s and how that progress could get over all the ethnic clashes in that country.
the last session was shared by Dr. Iman Al Kaffas who discussed (Integrating Peace Studies in Liberal Education) who highlighted her project with youth that adopted by American Univ Cairo, Egyptian National Youth Council and funded by USAID Egypt, this project develop and upgrade the presentation skills of the youth from 18-30 years old whom not exposed to any development either by university or schools, and based on gender equality, peace and accepting the other through many courses and workshops to develop those capacities in the right way, however the point I tackled is how this project get sustainability, because as I monitor in many courses like that or workshops the youth survive in a dream for a week more or less, then expose to reality and never change anything, because most of the youth after getting those courses they don’t know how to elaborate or to apply into reality as mentioned, without any doubt the reason of that is their lack of both practical experience & juridical awareness, so as a consequence they don’t know from where to start.
Kindly know that youth participation is fundamental right (as accredited and mentioned by the UN and the organizations thereof) for youth who reached 60% of the population of the globe and this right is not a supplement or a grant from any regime in the region.
In addition to that, there was a good experience for Muslim Peace Agents as a new project in Sweden by both Mr. Usama Hammad and Mr. Othman Al Tawalbeh, and how they spend more efforts to change both the image of muslims in the Swedish society, to be more active party in society and how they integrate with.
Results & Recommendations
Finally, we were badly in of meeting the other sides/parties in peace process representatives especially in Middle East from both Iran, Hezbollah-Lebanon, ex-coordinators from US and for sure from the Israeli side in respect, in order to see and to recognize more their own point of view, because all the time we talk to our side, however we should take the advantage the next time to see representatives, pro-actors and stakeholders from the sides I mentioned and this proposals could be adopted by one of the centers or the institutes who participated in this perfect conference.
A network among all the participants, the centers and the institutes who shared this amazing conference should be formed, in order to co-share our Ideas, hearts and minds to setup some sort of reasonable solutions or reconciliations between the parties of any conflict in the Middle East in particular and in South states in general.
last but not least, I’m taking the chance again to address my deepest regards to all the participants in that extra-ordinary conference and hope to meet all of you again very soon in more peace conferences.
Peace for all,
God bless you all,