Main Workshop and Conference Basics
"The Projects of Change and Their Future" conference comes in a time of major global strategic shifts on the political, military, economic and social levels. In addition, it takes place during an unstable era, as it has seen several wars and conflicts for about three decades. The region has become chaotic, with a negative effects on people's lives in general and the state of security and stability in particular.
Within this deteriorating situation, the Arab world has come under a threat of various projects, each designed to implement alien agendas. There are a number of reasons that led to the formation of a suitable environment for the emergence of international and regional projects to exert control over the Arab world and its wealth. Some of these reasons are: the state of weakness from which Arab systems suffer; the continuity of the dilemma of several Arab countries due to occupation and foreign intervention and pressure; and increasing interior problems in many countries due to suppression, monopoly of power and low economic levels.
As a result of the international and regional interactions, the Arab world is witnessing deep strategic shifts which will shape its features for the next decade. It has witnessed a direct US intervention on the ground when the American project moved to a new stage of direct intervention, institutionalised by the Neo-Conservatives in George Bush Junior's presidential terms (2001-2008). The shift has encouraged the Zionist programme in the region due to the close relationship between the two projects. It has also shed further light on the Iranian project in the region for several reasons, such as the controversy over the project and its danger on the Arab world especially in the current formal Arab atmosphere, as well as the shifts in Iran's new policies based on direct intervention as is the case in Iraq in the aftermath of the 2003 US occupation.
The above changes gain more importance because of the interaction between these non-Arab projects in the region and the absence of an agreed effective, equivalent Arab-Islamic project on the ground. On the contrary, the Arab world only plays a passive, reactive role in such projects.
On the public level, the Arab world has seen major developments in terms of the increased influence of the Islamic as well as national movements, let alone in participating in the ruling of some Arab countries and the defeat of Israel in major military battles. In contrast, the governments' self-confidence has declined. They have even stood against the public achievements of the resistance and the Arab and international voluntary work, as in the Lebanon war of 2006 and the war on Gaza of 2008. They have also hampered the serious public Arab efforts, along with their worldwide alliances, to prosecute the Israeli leaders before international criminal courts. Furthermore, they have not supported the efforts to form fact-finding commissions to uncover the Israeli crimes of 2002 in Jenin and Nablus, and 2009 in Gaza.
Therefore, the public Islamic and national movements work hard to realise the interests of the Arab nation, even by means of war and armed struggle. This has sometimes been interpreted by some Arab systems as a threat rather than armed resistance against the occupation and the international and Israeli domination.
In spite of the general Arab situation with regard to the development of a number of points of strength and resistance, the formal level faces a number of challenges which undermine the Arab governments in building their projects:
1. The weakness of Arab formal systems and the continuity of internal 'disagreement', especially between the major influential countries: Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Syria.
2. The continuity of separation between the Arab Mashreq (of Asia) and the Arab Maghred (of Africa), against an Arab Maghreb countries' unlimited cooperation with Europe and the Mediterranean.
3. The increasing cases of territory occupation as well the spread of political and social instability in a number of Arab countries (Palestine, Lebanon, Iraq, Sudan, and Somalia), besides the blockade of any hopes for political settlement with Israel on which the Arab systems relate their future.
4. The increasing number of non-Arab economic, cultural and political projects in the Arab world.
5. The overlap between the interior political, economic, sectarian and racial problems with those of democracy and the circulation of power, in addition to the widening technological and knowledge gap with the rest of world.
6. The widening circles of attrition in the conflicts between the ruling political elites and the political movements active in society, especially the Islamists.
This abnormal situation has led to serious consequences to the present and future of the Arab world as well as its projects of improvement. This has been the motive behind the organisation of this conference in a bid to discuss active projects in the Arab region, mainly those of the Americans, the Israelis and the Iranians. The aim is to build Arab-Islamic approaches to deal with them and to come up with a strategic vision that is compatible with the top interests of the Arab-Islamic nation, thus arriving at an Arab-Islamic project in the region. The conference is held to investigate the nature of those projects active in the region so that each one's scenario and determiners are uncovered. Ultimately, a future perspective for the entire Arab region and structure in light of these projects in the upcoming decade shall be crystallised.
It goes without saying that it is a timely opportunity for an in-depth, strategic reading of the five major projects influencing the Arab region, in order to come up with a clear strategic vision rationalising the political, media and economic decisions in the Arab region. Moreover, Arab scholars could present the features of a clear Arab strategy based on the integration of the national and Islamic projects in the region to counter foreign projects and their consequences.
The changes witnessed by the region can be summarised as follows: the outbreak of the great armed Palestinian Intifada in 2000; the failure of the occupation in Afghanistan in 2001 and in Iraq in 2003 to control them; the Israeli defeat in the Lebanon War in 2003 by the Lebanese resistance; the shaking of the capitalist system by the global financial crisis in September 2008; the victory of the Palestinian resistance in Gaza over Israel in the 2009 war; the collapse of Zionist Christian project of the Neo-Cons in the US in 2008; the readiness of the US to deal realistically with the reality and variables of the region according to President Obama's basic vision of 2009; and the increasing extremism of the right-wing doctrine in the Israeli society along with a government which provides no horizon for co-existence or normalisation with the Arabs, even those who made huge concessions in the latest Israeli elections of 2009.
1. To build a strategic, unified Arab vision against the shifts in the interior and foreign projects underway in the Arab region to the year 2015, besides the features of the necessary strategy to deal with them.
2. To build a joint perspective of an Arab-Islamic project of renaissance in the Arab region to unify the efforts of the Arabs and Muslims, especially among the pan-Arab and Islamic movements.
3. To present methodological views of the scenarios to the nature of conflict or agreement between those projects in the Arab world until 2015.
Projects to Be Discussed in the Conference
The conference explores five major projects of direct influence in the Arab region, in addition to another three minor projects of low influence – believed to be subsidiary in a way or another to the dynamism of the major five ones.
§ The Five Major Projects
1. The US project
2. The Zionist-Israeli project
3. The Iranian project
4. The Pan-Arab project
5. The Arab-Islamic project
§ The Other Projects
1. The European-Turkish project
2. The Indian-Chinese-Russian project
The Conference Geographical Framework
The title put forward to the conference relates to the projects of change only in the Arab world, taking into consideration the Islamic-civilisation dimension of the Islamic world on the strategic level and within the vital milieu of the Arab region.
The Conference Historical Framework
The conference addresses the interaction between those projects in the period between the last decade of the 20th century – the end of the Cold War – focusing on the beginnings of the 21st century to 2015. It aims at setting the significant possible scenarios of the situation and structure of the region. Workshops on other historical periods may be consulted for reasons of research.
The Concept of Change
Change refers to the building of approaches and realities having to do with the social, intellectual, economic and political environment, so that political systems as well as intellectual and social networks are established in order to achieve the goals of the project's vital interests and its strategic goals.
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