SEM:Security & WMD in Mid East
The idea of security is experienced or defined very differently in different quarters of the Middle East. If you are, say, in Mosul or Baghdad, in Damascus or Aleppo, in Gaza or Hebron, in Jerusalem or Kfar Etzion or Tel Aviv, in Amman or Beirut, in Cairo or El Arish, in Doha or Riyadh. Each of those places stimulates a different sense of security, in the personal or collective sense, and yet their overall security discourse is interconnected. The overall discourse on security in the Middle East is influenced, affected, interrupted, and shaped by what is going on in the region. They represent different facets of the larger issue and discourse of security in the Middle East.
The seminar will address the issue and the discourse of security in the Middle East, with stress on the two sides of the spectrum, from weapons of mass destruction (WMD) to acts of terrorism. We will look at the issue of security from both the national and the regional levels.
The seminar’s fundamental starting point is that to understand the issue of security in the region one must examine the broader historical fundamentals of the region. Religion, ethnicity, ideology, identity and, of course, politics are all closely related to the broader issue of security. Those issues are at the core of all regional conflicts as well as global terrorism; those issues shape the making of the modern Middle East. For this reason the seminar begins with a broad introduction on the making of the modern Middle East. Among the basic themes to be discussed in that introduction are:
• the idea of the “Middle East” as a distinct geo-political region;
• the fundamentals of the region: the religious, ethnic, and linguistic composition of the Middle East;
• The split Sunni versus Shia
• Islam as the major religion of the Middle East;
• the collapse of the Ottoman Empire as the cradle of the modern Middle East;
• the formation of the state system in the Middle East;
• the rise of political Zionism,
• the birth of the Arab-Israeli conflict;
• the rise of modern Iran;
• the creation of Modern Saudi Arabia and the Gulf;
Then, and against this introductory background, the seminar will examine the issue of contemporary security in the Middle East from both national and regional perspectives. We will look at the issue of security in the cases of the major states in the Middle East: Egypt, Iraq, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Israel. As it turns out, those countries –each in its unique way -- struggle now with issues of national identity and ideology that shapes their sense of security or lack therein.
The final part of the seminar will deal with regional issues involve regional security, WMD and ISIS. We will review not only the formation of the nuclear order in the Middle East where is Israel maintains a “benign monopoly” but also the history of the efforts to constrain and control the spread of WMD in the region, and why those efforts turned out not to be successful. The seminar will end by discussing the history as well as the desirability and feasibility of the efforts to establish the Middle East as WMD free zone.