We are millions of people who will be hurt. Will be drafted, will have to fight, loose our lives, our relatives. We, parents from TelAviv and Teheran will have to run with our children to the shelters and pray the missiles will miss us.
But they will fall somewhere, on someone.
Those last few days the sound of war is becoming louder.
So once again, load and clear, we are saying NO to this war
We saying to the people of Iran: We Love You
Pardis, persian living in germany
Finland to host 2012 talks on setting up nuclear-weapon-free zone in Middle East
Finland will host the conference to be held next year on the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East, it was announced today at the United Nations.In addition, Jaakko Laajava, Under-Secretary of State in Finland’s foreign ministry, has been appointed as the facilitator for the 2012 conference.The announcement was made in a joint press statement issued by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States – the co-sponsors of a 1995 resolution proposing a Middle East free of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction – in consultation with States of theregion.
My goal – our goal – is to make the whole world a nuclear-weapon-free zone.
The May 2010 review meeting of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) – which takes place every five years – called for a UN-sponsored conference in 2012 to establish a nuclear-free Middle East to be attended by all States in the region.
Ahead of the 2010 meeting, Mr. Ban had called for the number of nuclear-weapon-free zones to multiply and ultimately span the globe. “My goal – our goal – is to make the whole world a nuclear-weapon-free zone,” he stated, calling such zones the “success stories of the disarmament movement.”
Currently, there are five such zones: Latin America and the Caribbean; the South Pacific; South-East Asia; Central Asia; and Africa.
Iran, Israel and the West: Is there a way out of the crisis?
Moderator: Does the Middle-East face an armed, nuclear conflict between Israel and Iran? In the public discussion there are only three options: military action with conventional weapons, a nuclear attack or a continuation of the sanctions policy against Iran.
Ali Fathollah-Nejad: From the beginning, the West has used coercive diplomacy against Iran. This strategy aims not to towards a balance, but to a de facto capitulation of the Iran. From the Iranian perspective this means a security deficit, which is enforced by the neoconservative wars of the last decades through the increased military presence of the Americans in the region. Due to the fact that the West didn’t take into account the legitimate security interests of Iran, coercive diplomacy has failed. The lack of any solution to the conflict has led to a continuing escalation.
Moderator: What are the effects of the sanction policy of the West in Iran?
Ali Fathollah-Nejad: Sanctions have made legal trade illegal. The situation in Iran has dramatically tightened in the last few months. The prices are rising and the currency has lost nearly half of its value. It is the population who has to pay the price of the sanctions. The elite own the resources, means of production and ways to withstand the sanctions. With this enables them to expand their power position compared to the civil economy and society. A civil society under the pressure of an authoritarian regime on one side and on the other side the sanctions and menace of war. Overall the policy of the West in the region pushed forward the militarization process of state and society. Instead of running towards an armed conflict, the focus should be on the process of balancing interests and perspectives for security and collaboration. It is alarming that there are no clear signals for de-escalation and conflict-resolution, and this is true for Germany as well.
Moderator: Which are the reactions of the Israeli population on the debate around a possible attack on Iranian nuclear facilities?
Hillel Schenker: In Israel everyone is frightened of the possibility of Iranian nuclear armament. Public opinion surveys show this. For example the Israeli population was asked how they would react in case of a nuclear armament of Iran. 25% of the questioned answered they would possibly leave the country. Another survey shows that the majority of Israelis would be for giving up the Israeli nuclear weapons and becoming a part of a nuclear free zone if this would prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons.
Moderator: Is the statement from Iran that they are only interest in nuclear energy is the civil use convincing?
Ali Fathollah-Nejad: Based on its geography, its demography and its long cultural history Iran has a particular place in the region. The country has a quasi natural geopolitical influence. An important component of the strategic thinking of Tehran is that a nuclear bomb is counter-productive for their strategic interests. If Iran went nuclear, it is probable that other states in the region, states which Iran is not friends with, like the countries of the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf such as Saudi-Arabia would get nuclear weapons. A nuclear stand-off would lead to the loss of the natural geopolitical importance of Iran.
Moderator: Which options about the Iranian nuclear program are discussed in the Israeli public?
Hillel Schenker: In the public discussion there are currently two strategies of how to deal with the Iranian nuclear program. One idea is an Israeli or American or coordinated nuclear attack against the Iranian nuclear facilities. A large amount of military experts expect that this will lead to a spiral of violence in the region with a lot of civilian victims without leading to success. Another option would be a combination of sanctions and negotiations. But there is a third: direct negotiations between the two parties on neutral ground. These negotiations should aim to create a nuclear free zone in the Middle East. In 2010 at a NPT (Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty) review conference, it was decided that an international conference should be held to create such a nuclear weapons free zone. The conference will be held at the end of this year, 2012 or at the beginning of next year in Finland, with the facilitation of Finnish Under-Secretary of State Jaakko Laajava.
Moderator: How can civil society help lead this conference to success?
Hillel Schenker: From the point of view of the civil society it is essential that Israel and Iran will be attending this conference. If either does not attend, the conference will be a failure. The second point is the conference should not be a one-time event. It has to be the beginning of a process. Thirdly, all the participants have to recognize that a nuclear and mass destruction weapons free zone and peace in the Middle-East are not mutually exclusive; they depend on each other and they have to take place simultaneously.
From a debate held on April 23, 2012 in Berlin before an audience of over 150 diplomats, politicians, academic experts, students, NGO activists and other concerned citizens, sponsored by German IPPNW and the Friedrich Ebert Foundation.
A New Security Architecture for the Middle East?
The Arab Spring demonstrates that civil-society yields results.
Ali Fathollah-Nejad from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) of the University of London is member of the initiative for a civil-society Conference for Security and Cooperation in the Middle East (CSCME). One of its key aims is the creation of a zone free of weapons of mass destruction. Thomas Kachel spoke to the political scientist.
The CSCME is an initiative for the promotion of peace in the Middle East through civil-society actors. How did it come about?
The initiative was spearheaded some years ago in Germany by peace researcher Mohssen Massarrat in collaboration with the German branches of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) and the International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms (IALANA). After decades of violent conflicts in the region, the initiators chose not to sit down and wait anymore, rather decided to assemble civil-society actors from all countries concerned in order to promote the perspective for peace, security and cooperation – something state actors have carelessly neglected so far. After a first workshop in January, a second one has been held at SOAS in London by late October.
Who are the participants and what are their next concrete goals?
So far we have been able to bring together civil-society forces from almost all countries of the region. They are unified in the desire to break out from the vicious cycle of armament-based deterrence and instead bring about regional cooperation. In addition to security policy, the CSCME process comprises a number of fields for cooperation, among others in the areas socio-economic development, cross-border resource management, inter-religious and -cultural dialogue, and health. We hope that the next expert conference will be taking place in the region itself. All of that in view of holding a founding conference for the civil-society CSCME process in the near future.
For 2012, the first United Nations Middle East WMD-Free Zone Conference is planned. Our desire is that concrete steps towards the realization of that aim will be defined and civil-society groups involved.
What has been the focus of the recent workshop?
The most important topic was the “Arab Spring” which showed that the pejoratively dismissed “Arab Street” is not a passive object of authoritarian rule, but that civil societies can offensively fight for their own needs and interests. This development has also emboldened our initiative as it demonstrates that civil-society pressure can yield results.
Against the background of the so-called nuclear crisis, a potential Israeli attack on Iran raised concerns – a subject now again in the headlines. Hence, the desire to bring both parties to the table in the framework of the said UN conference.
In the West, appeals for a peaceful approach towards Iran are often equated with partisanship for Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
I believe such an adventurous claim has long exceeded its expiry date. A peaceful and fair approach, respecting international law, can of course not be put on the same level as “appeasement” as assumed by neoconservatives. The fact of the matter is that economic sanctions and the threat of war – in other words, the lack of conflict resolution – have enormously damaged civil society, while the current power configuration has been cemented. In fact, reversing such a course of action promises to weaken hardliners on all sides.
*[This article was translated from German, and was originally published in the newspaper: Neues Deutschland on November 8, 2011].
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Fair Observer’s editorial policy.
Objectives and Strategies for a Successful Finland Conference
Hillel Schenker – Horizon 2012 – March 23
Hillel Schenker is Co-Editor of the Palestine-Israel Journal (www.pij.org)
Components for a Successful Conference
1) Comedian Groucho Marx once said, “I don’t want to belong to any club that will accept me as a member.”
Contrary to this wisdom – The first and most important component of success is that everyone from the region will attend, including Israel and Iran.
2) The second key to success is that it be the beginning of a process, and not just a one-time ad-hoc event.
3) The key to ensuring that it be a process, with a chance of eventual success, is that the conference should have two tracks.
The ACRS (Arms Control and Regional Security Working Group) talks between 1992-1995 broke down over the question of which came first – the chicken or the egg – The Egyptians said a Nuclear Weapons Free Zone in the ME, and the Israelis said Comprehensive Israeli-Arab Peace.
The way to overcome this bind – parallel tracks:
1) Creating a Road Map for steps towards the creation of a Nuclear and WMD Free Zone in the Middle East;
2) Creating a Road Map for steps towards the achievement of comprehensive Israeli-Arab peace.
4) The Arab Peace Initiative (API), which offers Israel peace and normal relations based upon a withdrawal from the occupied territories and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state, alongside the State of Israel can be a key tool to enable both processes to move forward (though it did not mention WMD).
5) The conference should also consist of parallel forums:
a) One governmental
b) One civil society
6) The governmental forum should create a mechanism for ongoing communication between government representatives, after the conference, perhaps hosted or facilitated on a permanent basis by Finland
7) The civil society forum should also create a mechanism for ongoing communication between civil society representatives from throughout the region.
8) Within the civil society forum, the concept of a Civil Society Conference on Security and Cooperation in the Middle East(CSCME), which began as a formal concrete initiative with a preliminary conference in January 2011 in Germany, with the participation of representatives from Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Israel, Palestine, Iran, Turkey and Kuwait, should be introduced and developed.
A follow-up CSCME conference was held in London in October, 2011, with participants from the region and other interested parties. Based upon the CSCE (Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe) which contributed to the end of the Cold War, the development of guidelines for a CSCME could be an important cornerstone in the development of both a Nuclear and WMD Free Zone in the Middle East, and Israeli-Arab comprehensive peace.