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Global Manifesto to Bridge West-Islam Divide
Published on Monday, June 21, 2004 by the
Global Manifesto to Bridge West-Islam Divide
by Rakesh K. Simha

NEW DELHI - An international round table of 30 eminent leaders and scholars from North America, Europe, Asia and the Middle East Sunday released the Delhi Declaration on Sustainable Global Security - a mutually acceptable framework for resolving the current conflict between Islamic countries and the West.

The G-30 met in India's capital, New Delhi, on 19-20 June for a round table called "Constructing Peace and Deconstructing Terror" conducted by the International Center for Peace Initiatives of Indian think-tank, the Strategic Foresight Group.

The participants included Richard McCormack, former US under-secretary of state, Stephen Solarz, former Congressman and vice-chairman of the International Crisis Group, Graham Watson, European Parliamentarian, Mahmood Sariolghalam, professor at Teheran's National University, Abdel Raouf El Reedy, former Egyptian ambassador to the US, Lt Gen Satish Nambiar, member of the UN's high level panel on New Threats and Challenges, and Sheikh Saif Al Maskery, former assistant secretary of the Gulf Cooperation Council from Oman.

The round table concluded that multilateral cooperation was a key factor in stamping out terrorism.

As Solarz put it, "Terror is the biggest threat to the world in the 21st century. Weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) could pose devastating economic consequences for the world. Multilateral international cooperation is needed because terrorism is not the province of any particular religion."

After detailed discussions, the group made some key recommendations:

  • Establishment of an international expert group by the UN representing various stakeholders to prepare a definition of terrorist acts with benchmarks to designate terror groups on a regular basis.
  • Collective action against states that harbor terrorists, terror groups, their leaders and affiliates.
  • Exploring new ways to promote political and peaceful resolution of conflicts, leading to the end of military occupation.
  • The launch of a Global Transformation Initiative to reform education and promote tolerance and respect for all religions and ethnic groups among young people worldwide.

The round table may also result in the establishment of working groups, representing expertise from the West and Islamic countries, to thoroughly examine the problems of terrorism and the use of force.

The group agreed that the global strategy pursued since 9/11 had been ineffective. Apart from attacks on the allied forces in Iraq after the arrest of Saddam Hussain, terrorist attacks continued unabated not only in Asia and the Middle East, but also in Europe.

According to them, the rate of success in freezing terrorist finances had declined from US $100 million in 2001 to $25 million in 2002 to $11 million in 2003. The long-term nature of US-backed regimes in Afghanistan and Iraq was questionable.

On the other hand, the use of force by the US and its allies in Iraq, without rules of evidence or multilateral legitimacy, had triggered a wave of revulsion in the Islamic world, especially in the Arab street.

Since 9/11, there is an appearance of conflict between the West and the Islamic countries.

There are differences between the Atlantic partners about the management of the global security architecture. Likewise, there are questions about the best way to deal with the proliferation of WMDs, and the linkages between terrorism and economic aspirations, and terrorism and crime.

El Reedy, who's also the chairperson of the Egyptian Council on Foreign Relations, said peace on the ground was a crucial element in combating terror and WMDs.

He stressed that the withdrawal of foreign forces from countries like Iraq was a major requirement for inducing peace.

El Reedy held that the recent instances of American atrocities in Iraq such as the sexual abuse and torture of prisoners in Al Ghraib had led to a resurgence of anger among Arabs and local people.

The G-30 agreed it was time to assess the health of the global security architecture and explore future risks.

Said Watson, who's the leader of the European Liberal, Democratic and Reformist Parties in the European Parliament, "People are coming together because they realize the nature of the threat. By the time the policeman has put on his boots, the terrorist is halfway around the world."

Perhaps the single major issue on which there was wide consensus was the need to educate and sensitize young minds about other religions of the world.

Both Solarz and Watson dwelt on the urgent need to educate young people about inter-cultural sensitivity. "Unless we do that, we cannot do justice to the generations to come," declared Watson.

The group called for a new setting acceptable to the main stakeholders of world security. In the age of the globetrotting terrorist who knows and respects no borders, security was an interlinked matter.

Declared El Reedy, "We need the West to understand that the problem of terror is important not just to them but to us too."

Despite doubts about American aims in the Middle East, the delegates welcomed the Iraqi handover due on June 30. Rear Admiral Rudolf Lange, the former commandant of the Staff Academy of the German Federal Armed Forces, said though the Americans may not be looking at an early exit, handing over the reins to a national government would be done "as soon as appropriate."

Remarked El Reedy, "There is a definite change in the US policy on Iraq because of the developments on the ground. They have realized they cannot do it alone."

One reason the Americans can't afford to go solo or play globocop is the fact that their image has taken a beating internationally, which could impact their business interests worldwide.

Xi Laiwang, director and research professor at the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations, said the public perception of the US in China was "quite bad." While the Ugly American surfaced during episodes like the bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade and Washington's tilt toward's Taiwan during Beijing's frequent standoffs with the breakaway island, its image has sunk to a new low after Al Ghraib.

Sundeep Waslekar, president of the Strategic Foresight Group said the need for the round table arose because the problem of terror was being tackled with a bias, and solutions were formulated keeping in mind the interests of a few.

He declared that, "What we presently have is an agenda driven by the US, with terrorists and countries that support them on the other side. We need to arrive at a common ground that is acceptable to all, including countries like India that are affected by terror."

It is appropriate that an institution based in India has taken such an initiative, since India boasts of a long history of the synthesis of both Western and Islamic values. In a sense, India is a neutral ground for such a meeting between Western and Islamic strategists.

Copyright © 2004


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