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Iran Country Risk Report, June 2019

Iran Country Risk Report (June 2019)

After some months of implementation, the re-imposed US sanctions against Iran are seriously affecting Iranian economy and forcing disputed political and even military reactions. The present report attempts to provide an analysis of Iran by addressing: the consequences of sanctions, the current and future state of its energy sector, the internal situation of the country, and the future prospect of the Iran-US relations.

C. Asiáin, M. Morrás, I. Urbasos

 

Report [pdf. 14,1MB]

 

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

The US unilateral withdrawal from the JCPOA on May 8, 2018, reshaped the Iranian domestic and international reality. On the one hand, the JCPOA enabled Iran to increase its GDP above 7% in the period of 2016-2018, more than double its oil exports and maintained President Rouhani in office after the 2017 elections. On the other hand, the US reimposition of the previously lifted sanctions demonstrated the deep vulnerabilities of the Iranian economy and its huge diplomatic isolation.

US sanctions will affect the whole of Iran’s foreign relations due to its extraterritorial nature. The EU will try to avoid its effect through legal protection of its companies and citizens with mechanisms such as the SPV, whose scope and effectivity is yet to be proved. China, as it is less exposed to the US financial and political influence, will be able to better circumvent sanctions but still far from being totally unaffected. Other countries such as India, Turkey or Russia will find difficulties to handle secondary sanctions, but will be able to maintain a certain degree of trade with the Islamic Republic. Japan or South Korea will have to follow US demands because of its strategic alliance in the Asia-Pacific region and resume energy imports and investments.

The Iranian economy is expected to enter into recession during 2019, GDP growth is expected to be -4.5% and unemployment rate will increase to the 15.4%. This economic hardship will concentrate the political debate in the 2020 legislative and 2021 presidential elections, whose result will determine if a moderate or hardliner political faction seizes power. Social unrest from ethnic minorities and opposition is expected to rise if the economic conditions do not improve, challenging the current political equilibrium of the country.

The energy sector will be deeply affected by US sanctions as it banned all countries from investing and purchasing Iran’s energy products. Sanctions are expected to reduce Iran oil exports to 1million barrels a day from the 2017 levels of 2.4 mbdp, decreasing governmental revenues drastically and freezing most foreign investments. The lack of FDI and technology will aggravate the problems of the Iranian energy sector with possible irreversible effects depending on the sanctions duration.

US-Iran relations are expected to worsen at least until the US 2020 Presidential elections, when a more dialoguing candidate could substitute the hawkish Trump administration. The United States is expected to maintain its current strategic alliances with Saudi Arabia and Israel, whose common goal of pressuring Iran can have unexpected consequences for the Middle East. Domestic politics in Iran, US, Israel and Saudi Arabia will play a major role in the evolution of the events.

¿Qué opciones de cambio en Irán?

[Amil Saikal, Iran Rising: The survival and Future of the Islamic Republic. Princeton University Press. Princeton, 2019. 344 p.]

 

RESEÑAIgnacio Urbasos Arbeloa

Iran Rising: The survival and Future of the Islamic Republic

Desde su constitución en 1979 la República Islámica de Irán ha sido un actor conflictivo, aislado e incomprendido por la comunidad internacional y en mayor medida por sus vecinos regionales. Su origen, de carácter revolucionario y antagonista del modelo pro-occidental del Sha, cambió por completo la geopolítica de Oriente Medio y el papel de EEUU en la región. Tanto la Crisis de los Rehenes como la sangrienta Guerra contra el Irak de Saddam Hussein dejaron heridas muy profundas en las relaciones de Irán con el exterior. Más de 40 años después de la Revolución, el país sigue en una dinámica que imposibilita la normalización de sus relaciones internacionales, siempre bajo la amenaza de un conflicto armado o sanciones económicas. En este libro, Amin Saikal describe en profundidad la naturaleza ideológica y política del régimen de los Ayatolas con la intención de generar una mejor comprensión de las motivaciones y factores que explican su comportamiento.

En los primeros capítulos se desarrolla el concepto de gobernanza ideado por el Ayatola Imam Jomeini, conocido como Velayat-E Faqih o Gobernanza del Guardián del Islam. Un modelo defendido por una facción no mayoritaria de la revolución que logró imponerse por el carisma de su líder y la enorme represión sobre el resto de los grupos políticos. El sistema político resultante de la Revolución de 1978 trata de confluir las enseñanzas chiitas del Islam y un modelo representativo con instituciones como el Majlis (parlamento) o el Presidente que en cierta medida simula la democracia liberal occidental. Este modelo es único y nunca ha sido imitado a pesar de los esfuerzos de la República Islámica por exportarlo al resto del mundo musulmán.

En la práctica, el sistema ha demostrado someter la política iraní a la esquizofrenia, con una lucha constante entre el poder de los clérigos –Líder Supremo y Consejo de Guardianes– frente al poder ejecutivo y legislativo elegido por medio de elecciones. Esta tensión, denominada como Jihadi-Itjihadi (conservadurismo-flexibilidad) por el propio Jomeini, ha resultado ser un rotundo fracaso. La falta de claridad en las funciones que los grupos religiosos juegan en el sistema deriva en un poder ilimitado para reprimir y eliminar adversarios políticos, como el arresto domiciliario de Jatamí o Moussaoui demuestran. Esta lucha genera duplicidades a todos los niveles con la omnipresencia de la Guardia Revolucionaria Iraní (IRGC) en las fuerzas armadas, inteligencia, servicios sociales y empresas públicas. La falta de transparencia política genera corrupción e ineficiencias que lastran el desarrollo de una economía que no carece de capital humano y recursos naturales para prosperar.

En los capítulos 2 y 3 se trata la evolución del sistema tras el fallecimiento del líder Jomeini en 1988 y el fin de la guerra contra Irak. Este nuevo contexto permitió la entrada de nuevas ideas al debate político iraní. El polémico nombramiento del ultraconservador Alí Jamenei en 1989 como nuevo Líder Supremo supuso reforzar el autoritarismo y la rigidez del poder religioso, pero ahora sin el indiscutible liderazgo que ejercía Jomeini. La presidencia de Rafsanjani, un conservador pragmático, supuso el comienzo de una tendencia dentro de Irán que abogaba por normalizar las relaciones internacionales del país.

Sin embargo, fue Jatamí el que desde 1997 apostó por una reconversión del sistema hacia una democracia real que respetara los Derechos Humanos. Su apuesta personal por mejorar las relaciones con EEUU fracasó al encontrarse con una desconfianza desmesurada por parte de la Administración Bush. Ni tan siquiera la respuesta modélica de Irán a los atentados sobre las Torres Gemelas de Nueva York con una condena oficial al atentado y hasta un minuto de silencio respetado por 60.000 personas en Teherán el 13 de septiembre de 2001 fue suficiente para que G.W. Bush reconsiderara a Irán como parte del famoso Axis of Evil que constituía junto a Siria, Corea del Norte y Sudán. A pesar de lograr un crecimiento económico medio del 5% del PIB bajo su presidencia, la falta de reciprocidad por parte de la comunidad internacional generó una ruptura total entre el presidente reformista y la facción conservadora liderada por el Líder Supremo.

El periodo comprendido entre 2005 y 2013 estuvo marcado por la presidencia del ultraconservador Ahmadinejad, que terminó sin la confianza de Jamenei al fracasar en materia económica y llevar a Irán al borde del conflicto armado. Durante esta etapa el IRGC creció hasta dominar buena parte de los ministerios y el 70% del PIB de Irán. Su controvertida reelección en 2009 con acusaciones de fraude por parte de la oposición generó el movimiento verde, las mayores protestas desde 1979, que fueron duramente reprimidas.

La llegada de Rouhani en 2013 podría haber sido una ocasión histórica al alinear por primera vez desde 1988 la visión de un presidente moderado con la del Líder Supremo. Rouhani, un moderado pragmático, asumió el cargo con los objetivos de mejorar las condiciones de vida de los iraníes, reconciliar las relaciones con Occidente, incrementar los derechos de las minorías y relajar el control sobre la sociedad. En materia de política exterior, el Líder Supremo asumió la necesidad de alcanzar un acuerdo sobre el programa nuclear a sabiendas de que, en su ausencia, una mejora económica en Irán sería muy complicada. El JCPOA, aunque imperfecto, permitía acercar posturas entre Occidente e Irán. La llegada de Donald Trump hizo volar por los aires el acuerdo y con ello la sintonía entre el Líder Supremo Jamenei y Rouhani, que ahora afronta una creciente oposición conservadora al considerar su política exterior un fracaso.

Para el autor, es imprescindible comprender la batalla entre las instituciones electas y las instituciones religiosas. La política iraní funciona como un péndulo entre el dominio de las facciones conservadoras protegidas por los religiosos y las facciones reformistas aupadas por las elecciones. Si se ofrecen beneficios a los moderados reformistas cuando están en el poder, las opciones de generar un cambio político en Irán son mayores que si se trata con la misma dureza que a los conservadores, defiende Amin Saikal en el cuarto y quinto capítulo. Además, existe una correlación entre aquellos que conocen Occidente y los que no. Jamenei y Ahmadineyad, principales representantes de la línea dura jamás visitaron Europa o EEUU, mientras que Rouhani, Jatamí o Sharif dominan el inglés y la cultura occidental.

Con una población menor de 30 años que supone el 50% del total y una creciente modernización de la sociedad en Teherán, las demandas de reformas parecen imparables. Según Amin Saikal, una política intransigente con Irán cuando existe voluntad de apertura solo genera desconfianza y refuerza las posiciones más conservadoras. La política de Trump con Irán, concluye, demuestra la falta de conocimiento y comprensión de su sociedad y sistema político.

Iran Strategic Report, July 2019

Iran Strategic Report (July 2019)

This report will provide an in-depth analysis of Iran's role in the Middle East and its impact on the regional power balance. Studying current political and economic developments will assist in the elaboration of multiple scenarios that aim to help understand the context surrounding our subject.

J. Hodek, M. Panadero.

 

Iran Strategic Report (July 2019)Report [pdf. 15,5MB]

INTRODUCTION: IRAN IN THE MIDDLE EAST

This report will examine Iran's geopolitical presence and interests in the region, economic vulnerability and energy security, social and demographic aspects and internal political dynamics. These directly or indirectly affect the evolution of various international strategic issues such as the future of Iran's Nuclear Deal, United States' relations with Iran and its role in Middle East going forward. Possible power equilibrium shifts, which due to the economic and strategic importance of this particular region, possess high relevance and significant degree of impact even outside of the Iranian territory with potential alteration of the regional and international order.

With the aim of presenting a more long-lasting report, several analytical techniques will be used (mainly SWOT analysis and elaboration of simple scenarios), in order to design a strategic analysis of Iran in respect to the regional power balance and the developments of the before mentioned international strategic issues. Key geopolitical data will be collected as of the announcement of the U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo on the re-imposition of U.S. sanctions on the Islamic Republic of Iran on November 2, 2018 with a projection for the upcoming years, thus avoiding a simple narration of facts, which transpired so far.

First part of this report will be dedicated to a more general analysis of the geopolitical situation in the Middle East, with a closer attention to Iran's interests and influence. Then, after a closer look on the internal dynamics within Iran, several scenarios will be offered out of which some will be categorized and selected as the most probable according to the authors of this report.

Toyota wars and the next generation in counter insurgency strategies

ISIS Toyota convoy in Syria [ISIS video footage]

▲ISIS Toyota convoy in Syria [ISIS video footage]

ANALYSISIgnacio Yárnoz

When you go to a Toyota distributor to buy a Toyota Land Cruiser or a Toyota Hilux, what they proudly tell you is how resistant, fast and reliable the truck is. However, what they do not tell you is how implicated in wars and conflicts the truck has been due to the very same characteristics. We have seen in recent newscasts that in many of today´s conflicts, there’s a Toyota truck; no matter how remote the country is. This is because, if the AK47 is the favourite weapon for militias in developing countries, the Toyota Hilux and Land Cruiser are the militia’s trucks of choice.

This is no surprise when one considers that the Toyota Land Cruiser was initially designed to be a military car inspired by the famous Jeep Willis at the time Japan was occupied by the US after Japan´s defeat in World War II. However, its popularity among terrorist groups, militias, as well as developing countries’ national armies only gained ground in the 80’s when a conflict between Chad and Libya proved the trucks’ effectiveness as war machines; simultaneously calling into question the efficacy of traditional war strategies and military logistics.

This little-known story is about how an army comprising 400 Toyota pickups of the Chadian army outmanoeuvred and overwhelmed a vastly superior force equipped with soviet-era tanks and aircrafts of the Libyan army. The historical event demonstrated how a civilian truck was able to shape international borders, tipping the balance in favour of the inferior party to the conflict.

The Toyota War

The Toyota War is the name given to the last phase of the Chad-Libyan War that raged on for almost a decade, yet did not have relevance until its last phase. This last phase began in 1986 and ended a year later with a heavy defeat inflicted on the Libyan army by the Chadians. In total, 7,500 men were killed and 1.5 billion dollars worth of military equipment was destroyed or captured. Conversely, Chad only lost 1,000 men and very little military equipment (because they hardly had any).

The last phase of the conflict developed in the disputed area of the North of Chad, an area that had been occupied by Libyan forces in 1986 due to its natural resources such as uranium (highly interesting for Gadhafi and his nuclear armament project). At the beginning of 1987, the last year of the war, the Libyan expeditionary force comprised 8,000 soldiers, 300 T-55 battle tanks, multiple rocket launchers and regular artillery, as well as Mi-24 helicopters and sixty combat aircrafts. However, the Libyan soldiers were demotivated and disorganized. The Chadians, on the other hand, had nothing but 10,000 brave and motivated soldiers with neither air support nor armoured tanks. However, by 1987, Chad could count on the French Air Force to keep Libyan aircraft grounded but, perhaps more importantly, a 400 Toyota pickups fleet equipped with MILAN (Missile d´infanterie léger antichar) anti-tank guided missiles sent by the French Government. Additionally, it could also be equipped with .50 calibre machine guns, with archaic flak cannons for anti-air purposes or even rocket clusters to be used as WWII-style artillery.

This logistical combination proved to be superior to that employed by the Libyan army as Toyota pickup trucks could easily outmanoeuvre the heavily armoured Russian tanks. Whereas the latter consumed around 200 L/100 km, the Toyota trucks consumed a fraction, at 10L/100 km. In addition, Toyota Trucks could mobilize groups of 20 people in a single truck, enabling faster transport and deployment of troops to the conflict scene; an advantage the Russian tanks did not have.

Reminiscent of the Maginot line when the Nazi army challenged the old trenches system utilizing a fixed artillery method with the innovative Thunder war strategy, the Chad Army emerged victorious over the Libyans through a simple strategic innovation in military logistics. Something clearly demonstrated in the Battle of Fada. In this instance, a Libyan armoured brigade defending Fada was almost annihilated: 784 Libyans and CDR (Democratic Revolutionary Council) militiamen died, 92 T-55 tanks and 33 BMP-1 infantry fighting vehicles were destroyed, and 13 T-55s and 18 BMP-1s were captured, together with the 81 Libyan soldiers operating them. Chadian losses, on the other hand, were minimal: only 18 soldiers died and three Toyotas were destroyed.

All in all, this situation was one of the first deployments of the Toyota Hilux in a conflict zone, demonstrating the reliability of the truck and its high performance in harsh environments. A testament to the Toyota’s endurance was its featuring in the famous TV show “Top Gear” where a 1980’s Toyota Hilux was put to a wrecking ball, set on fire, submerged in a sea bay for 5 hours, then left on the top of a building waiting its final demolishment, yet still rolled.

Ever since, Toyota trucks have been sighted in conflicts in Nicaragua, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Liberia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (CDR), Lebanon, Yemen, Sudan, and Pakistan and as the New York Times has reported, the Hilux remains the pirates' 'ride of choice.'  The deployment of Daesh of a fleet of hundreds of Toyotas in Mosul in 2014 was a lasting testament of the trucks’ durability.

 

Chad's troops during the war against Lybia in the 1980s [Wikimedia Commons]

Chad's troops during the war against Lybia in the 1980s [Wikimedia Commons]

 

Adaptability

How could the West deal with this issue? To deploy a massive fleet of Humvees? It would be naïve to attack an enemy with their own means. This hardly appears to constitute an effective solution. Humvees are already being substituted by JLTV (Joint Light Tactical Vehicle) due to their vulnerability to IED’s (Improvised Explosive Devices); something insurgents are allowed to use but western countries are not due to international treaties and ethical values (how can a mine be designed such that it can distinguish a civilian truck from a Toyota driven by insurgents?). This proves the challenge that counterinsurgency policies (COIN) entail and the need to move to a next generation as far as COIN strategies are concerned.

The Toyota example is one of many that clearly signals a need for conventional state armies to adapt their logistical capabilities to better match the challenges of non-conventional warfare and insurgencies; the primary forms of conflict in which our nations are today engaged. The first lesson is clearly that the traditional focus on high power and the availability of resources is poorly suited to respond to contemporary insurgencies and military engagement with primarily non-state entities. Rather, there is a growing need for logistical versatility, combining both attack power and high manoeuvrability. The Toyota issue is an interesting example that illustrates how groups like Daesh have been able to mobilize an easily accessible, relatively non-expensive market commodity that has proven to be effective in lending the group precisely the kind of logistical aid required to successfully wage its insurgency. This being said, there are a number of dilemmas posed to nation states engaging in COIN strategies that prevent them from being able to employ the same methodology. Clearly there is a need to constantly engage in the adaptation of COIN strategies to respond to new threats and the surprising innovation of the adversary. However, COIN campaigns have been difficult to manage, and even harder to win, since time immemorial.

Recent research in political science and economics investigates a number of difficulties security forces face during conflicts with insurgent actors (Trebbi et al., 2017). Development and military aid spending have uneven effects, and conventional military strategies, including aerial bombardment, can erode civilian support for the COIN. Although states have historically used mass killings of non-combatants to undermine logistical support for guerrilla actors, evidence from modern insurgencies indicates that these measures may have the opposite effect: in some cases, such measures may encourage recruitment and mobilization (Trebbi et al., 2017). As such, the challenge is to constantly adapt to meet the requirements of contemporary warfare, whilst simultaneously assessing and remaining cognizant of the effects that COIN measures have on the overall campaign.

Adaptation through learning and innovation occurs on a much different time-scale than evolution. Although both involve information exchange with the environment and with elements within the system, evolution occurs over long periods of time through successive generations that have been able to successfully survive to changes (Hayden, 2013). Learning is the process of modifying existing knowledge, behaviours, skills, values, or preferences, and innovation involves the incorporation of a previously unused element into the system, or the recombination of existing elements in new ways.

Airstrikes

In the previous example of the conflict between Chad and Libya, it was mentioned that the Libyan army had its air force inoperative due to the presence of French air support. Another important point to make is that Toyotas may have been effective war machines for the terrain and surrounding environment, yet would nevertheless have been vulnerable to airstrikes had the Libyan army been able to engage air power against the Chadians. Air and space are part of the future of COIN strategies, despite composing only one element of them. They are our eyes (UAV systems), our way to get away or deploy forces (Chinook helicopters for example) and also the sword that can eliminate the threat (e.g. Predator drones). However, maintaining complete dominance over the battle space does not guarantee victory.

Due to the success of the air campaign in Operation Desert Storm, airpower seemed to be the predominating weapon of choice for future warfare. Yet, recent operations in Afghanistan and Iraq have called that assertion into question. Airstrikes in ground operations have proven to be controversial in small wars, especially when it comes to civilian casualties and its impact on civilian morale (an element that could enhance local support to insurgents). This is why, to win popular support, the US air force had to rethink its operations in Afghanistan and Iraq to win popular support (this also a result of Taliban and Pakistani propaganda and political pressure). Most recently, the US, along with France and the UK, have engaged in massive airstrikes on strategic infrastructure devoted to chemical development supposedly for a military use. Although being calibrated, proportional and targeted, those attacks have created a lot of internal debate in the West and have divided society. As such, the future environment seems certain to further limit the kind of strikes it can make with airpower and missiles.

Consequently, technologically superior air assets nowadays face significant challenges in engaging dispersed and oftentimes unseen opponents. The Air Force must determine how modern airpower can successfully engage an irregular opponent. Air power, the “strategic panacea” of Western policymakers (Maxey, 2018), will no longer maintain the same utility that it does against rural insurgents. Although tactical Predator strikes and aerial reconnaissance may have shifted the street-to-street fighting against Daesh, such operations are severely limited within expansive megacities. The threat of civilian casualties is often too high, even for precision-guided munitions with limited blast radius. Further. buildings and layers of infrastructure often obscure a clear overhead view.

For 2030, the United Nations (UN) suggests that around 60 percent of global population will live in urban areas. There are 512 cities of at least one million inhabitants around the world, and this is expected to grow to 662 cities by 2030. Many of the megacities that will emerge will come from the developing world. That is why it is so urgent to design strategies to adapt to operating within metropolitan environments where small roads prevent large tanks to manoeuvre, where buildings give cover to heavy cannon targets and where one is more exposed to the crosshairs of insurgents taking cover in civilian infrastructure. 

As U.S. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley remarked in 2016; “In the future, I can say with very high degrees of confidence, the American Army is probably going to be fighting in urban areas. We need to man, organize, train and equip the force for operations in urban areas, highly dense urban areas, and that’s a different construct. We’re not organized like that right now”.

In addition to this, National armies must be able to work through host governments, providing training, equipment and on-the-ground assistance to their local partners. The mere presence of a foreign army in the area often creates a negative perception among the local population and, unfortunately, in other cases, violent opposition. However, if the army patrolling the city wears the national flag, things change. Defeating an insurgency depends upon effective state building.

 

REFERENCES

Engel, P. (2018). These Toyota trucks are popular with terrorists — here's why. Business Insider. [Accessed 21 Apr. 2018].

S.L.P., I. (2018). La guerra de los Toyota en Siria. Instituto de Estrategia S.L.P. [Accessed 21 Apr. 2018].

Wang, A. (2018). How did the Toyota pickup become terrorists’ favorite truck?. Quartz.

Maxey, L. (2018). Preparing for the Urban Future of Counterinsurgency.

Smallwarsjournal.com. (2018). Air and Space Power COIN / IW | Small Wars Journal.

Costas, J. (2018). El lado oscuro y bélico del Toyota Land Cruiser. Motorpasion.com.

Tomes, R. R. (2004). Relearning counterinsurgency warfare. Parameters, 34(1), 16-29.

Hayden, N. K. (2013). Innovation and Learning in Terrorist Organizations: Towards Adaptive Capacity and Resiliency. System Dynamics Society.

Ryan, A., & Dila, M. (2014). Disruptive Innovation Reframed: Insurgent Design for Systemic Transformation.

Trebbi, F., Weese, E., Wright, A. L., & Shaver, A. (2017). Insurgent Learning (No. w23475). National Bureau of Economic Research.

¿Sirven de algo las sanciones internacionales?

[Richard Nephew, The Art of Sanctions. A View from the Field. Columbia University Press. Chichester. New York, 2018. 216 p.]

RESEÑAEmili J. Blasco

The Art of Sanctions. A View from the Field

Las sanciones internacionales suelen despertar un vivo debate entre quienes las defienden como un legítimo instrumento de la interacción entre Estados y quienes consideran que su aplicación apenas ha tenido más eficacia que la de aumentar el sufrimiento de enteras poblaciones sin culpa.

A la pregunta de si sirven para algo esas sanciones, que pueden ser de diversa índole pero que sobre todo tienen carácter económico, Richard Nephew responde que depende. Y no es una evasiva, sino en el fondo la defensa que de sus propias herramientas hace un mecánico de la diplomacia estadounidense (Nephew fue director para Irán en el Consejo Nacional de Seguridad y vicecoordinador para sanciones del Departamento de Estado): “Las sanciones no fracasan o tienen éxito. Más bien las sanciones ayudan o no a conseguir el deseado resultado final de un Estado sancionador (...) Las herramientas solo pueden tener un buen desempeño cuando son empleadas con la correcta estrategia; no se puede acusar a la sierra si falla en realizar el trabajo de un destornillador”.

Nephew no es un teórico de las sanciones, sino un “practicante”; el contenido de su libro procede de la experiencia (“Una visión desde el campo” es el subtítulo de la obra). Esa experiencia le hace ser un convencido de la utilidad de esas medidas siempre que se apliquen de modo conveniente. Básicamente pone el ejemplo de dos casos: el de Irak, donde las sanciones no lograron el objetivo buscado debido un mal planteamiento de la presión internacional, que finalmente derivó en guerra en 2003, y el de Irán, donde el régimen de medidas punitivas sobre la República Islámica tuvo su efecto y en 2015 pudo firmarse un acuerdo para frenar el programa nuclear iraní.

Activo participante en la arquitectura sancionadora a Irán, Nephew se extiende especialmente en el caso de las negociaciones con Teherán, tras abordar primero someramente el capítulo de Irak. De todo ello saca conclusiones y presenta sus propios decálogos sobre cómo las sanciones deben abordarse para que puedan resultar eficaces. En las últimas páginas trata de aconsejar cómo conducir un nuevo paquete sancionador sobre Irán, para controlar su programa de misiles y contener su actividad en el exterior a través de proxis, pero sin romper el acuerdo alcanzado (JCPOA) como ha hecho la Administración Trump; cómo gestionar la presión sobre Rusia en relación a Ucrania, y cómo confrontar la actitud de Corea del Norte. No aborda otras situaciones que el debate sobre las sanciones tiene bien presentes, como la dureza de Trump para con Cuba, en el marco de un embargo de décadas que no ha producido cambios en la isla, o el cerco sobre Nicolás Maduro en Venezuela.

Reglas para sancionar con éxito

La principal conclusión de Nephew es que “el conocimiento del oponente de uno, sus tolerancias y sus vulnerabilidades, es el predictor más importante sobre las posibilidades de éxito de una estrategia que se focaliza en sanciones (...) De hecho, para que las sanciones funcionen, uno realmente debe conocer al enemigo mejor que el enemigo se conoce a sí mismo”.

Eso es lo que, en su opinión, falló en Irak. Ciertamente las sanciones fueron efectivas, en tanto que impidieron que Sadam Husein retornara a un programa de armas de destrucción masiva, pero no evitaron una guerra. Y esto porque no se tuvo en cuenta la psicología del mandatario, dispuesto a todo tipo de sufrimiento –que traspasaba a la población, sin miedo a que esta pudiera quitarle el poder–, antes que admitir que no tenía el potente arsenal que supuestamente le encumbraba entre los líderes regionales. La comunidad internacional no entendió qué importante era para él mantener esa simulación, en su pretensión de credibilidad y prestigio, por encima de la presión de cualquier paquete de sanciones.

En el proceso iraquí, además, hubo otras deficiencias, según Nephew: desde el principio se aplicaron sanciones máximas, sin espacio para una política incremental, y a lo largo del tiempo hubo una variación del objetivo, pasando de querer evitar el rearme del régimen a plantear un cambio del régimen mismo (aunque Sadam Husein hubiera aceptado las condiciones que se le planteaban, Washington no hubiera admitido su continuidad en el poder).

Esos errores llevaron a una mayor comprensión de los mecanismos en juego, que se perfeccionaron en el trato con Irán. Nephew indica que a la hora de conocer bien el país objeto de posibles sanciones deben tenerse en cuenta sus instituciones políticas, su sistema macroeconómico y financiero, sus relaciones comerciales, sus valores culturales, su reciente historia, su demografía y el acceso de la población a fuentes externas de información. Eso permitirá identificar las vulnerabilidades y el umbral de dolor que el Gobierno de turno está dispuesto a absorber. Luego tanto las sanciones como las mismas asunciones deben ser continuamente recalibradas, siguiendo una estrategia bien definida. Es importante además que al Estado objeto de las sanciones se le presenten con claridad las condiciones necesarias para que la presión sea levantada, en el marco de una negociación de términos nítidos. Finalmente, hay que tener la disposición a auxiliar al Estado que se presiona a salir de un laberinto cuya salida tal vez no perciba, o incluso a aceptar objetivos más bajos si estos son un resultado también razonable.

El autor afirma que las tres causas más comunes del fracaso de un régimen de sanciones son: quedarse corto, pasarse de largo y objetivos confusos. Estas etiquetas pueden fácilmente aplicarse a procesos pasados, pero no es tan sencillo fijar los pasos de una diplomacia coercitiva de este tipo en conflictos en curso o que puedan ocurrir en el futuro.

Así, el mismo Nephew no tendría plenas garantías de éxito con las sanciones que sugiere para una nueva negociación con Irán con el fin de limitar su programa de misiles y su actuación a través de grupos como Hezbolá. En desacuerdo con la Administración Trump, hubiera preferido mantener el acuerdo sobre el programa nuclear de 2015 (conocido por sus siglas de JCPOA) y el consiguiente levantamiento del régimen de sanciones aplicado previamente, para pasar a otras sanciones distintas que busquen ese otro objetivo. Cierto que está por ver la utilidad del movimiento de Trump, pero es difícil creer que Teherán vaya a renunciar a esas otras actuaciones por una presión que en ningún caso sería tan internacional (China y Rusia solo se prestaron a un frente contra Irán porque en juego estaba que este país se convirtiera en potencia nuclear).

Women allowed to drive: Is Saudi Arabia really changing?

Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman and President Donald Trump during a meeting in Washington in 2017 [White House]

▲Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman and President Donald Trump during a meeting in Washington in 2017 [White House]

ANALYSIS / Naomi Moreno

Saudi Arabia used to be the only country in the world that banned women from driving. This ban was one of the things that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) was best known for to outsiders not otherwise familiar with the country's domestic politics, and has thus been a casus belli for activists demanding reforms in the kingdom. Last month, Saudi Arabia started issuing the first driver's licenses to women, putting into effect some of the changes promised by the infamous Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman (MBS) in his bid to modernize Saudi Arabian politics. The end of the ban further signals the beginning of a move to expand the rights of women in KSA, and builds on piecemeal developments that took place in the realm of women’s rights in the kingdom prior to MBS’ entrance to the political scene.

Thus, since 2012, Saudi Arabian women have been able to do sports as well as participate in the Olympic Games; in the 2016 Olympics, four Saudi women were allowed to travel to Rio de Janeiro to compete. Moreover, within the political realm, King Abdullah swore in the first 30 women to the shura council − Saudi Arabia's consultative council − in February 2013, and in the kingdom's 2015 municipal elections, women were able to vote and run for office for the first time. Finally, and highlighting the fact that economic dynamics have similarly played a role in driving progression in the kingdom, the Saudi stock exchange named the first female chairperson in its history − a 39-year-old Saudi woman named Sarah Al Suhaimi − last February.

Further, although KSA may be known to be one of the “worst countries to be a woman”, the country has experienced a notable breakthrough in the last 5 years and the abovementioned advances in women’s rights, to name some, constitute a positive development. However, the most visible reforms have arguably been the work of MBS. The somewhat rash and unprecedented decision to end the ban on driving coincided with MBS' crackdown on ultra-conservative, Wahhabi clerics and the placing of several of the kingdom's richest and most influential men under house arrest, under the pretext of challenging corruption. In addition, under his leadership, the oil-rich kingdom is undergoing economic reforms to reduce the country's dependency on oil, in a bid to modernize the country’s economy. 

Nonetheless, despite the above mentioned reforms being classified by some as unprecedented, progressive leaps that are putting an end to oppression through challenging underlying ultra-conservatism traditions (as well as those that espouse them), a measure of distrust has arisen among Saudis and outsiders with regards the motivations underlying the as-of-yet seemingly limited reforms that have been introduced. While some perceive the crown prince's actions to be a genuine move towards reforming Saudi society, several indicators point to the possibility that MBS might have more practical reasons that are only tangentially related to progression for progression's sake. As the thinking goes, such decrees may have less to do with genuine reform, and more to do with improving an international image to deflect from some of the kingdom’s more controversial practices, both at home and abroad. A number of factors drive this public scepticism.

Reasons for scepticism

The first relates to the fact that KSA is a country where an ultraconservative form of shari'a or Islamic law continues to constitute the primary legal framework. This legal framework is based on the Qur'an and Hadith, within which the public and many private aspects of everyday life are regulated. Unlike in other Muslim majority countries, where only selective elements of the shari'a are adopted, Wahhabism – which is identified by the Court of Strasbourg as a main source of terrorism − has necessitated the strict adherence to a fundamentalist interpretation of shari'a, one that draws from the stricter and more literal Hanbali school of jurisprudence. As such, music and the arts have been strictly controlled and censored. In addition, although the religious police (more commonly known as the Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice) have had their authority curbed to a certain degree, they are still given the authority to enforce Islamic norms of conduct in public by observing suspects and forwarding their findings to the police.

In the past few years, the KSA has been pushing for a more national Wahhabism, one that is more modern in its outlook and suitable for the kingdom’s image. Nevertheless, the Wahhabi clergy has been close to the Al Saud dynasty since the mid-18th century, offering it Islamic legitimacy in return for control over parts of the state, and a lavish religious infrastructure of mosques and universities. Therefore, Saudi clerics are pushing back significantly against democratization efforts. As a result, the continuing prevalence of a shari'a system of law raises questions about the ability of the kingdom to seriously democratise and reform to become moderate.

Secondly, and from a domestic point of view, Saudi Arabia is experiencing disharmony. Saudi citizens are not willing to live in a country where any political opposition is quelled by force, and punishments for crimes such as blasphemy, sorcery, and apostasy are gruesome and carried out publicly. This internal issue has thus embodied an identity crisis provoked mainly by the 2003 Iraq war, and reinforced by the events of the Arab Spring. Disillusionment, unemployment, religious and tribal splits, as well as human rights abuses and corruption among an ageing leadership have been among the main grievances of the Saudi people who are no longer as tolerant of oppression.

In an attempt to prevent the spill over of the Arab Spring fervor into the Kingdom, the government spent $130 billion in an attempt to offset domestic unrest. Nonetheless, these grants failed to satisfy the nearly 60 percent of the population under the age of twenty-one, which refused to settle. In fact, in 2016 protests broke out in Qatif, a city in Saudi Arabia's oil-rich, eastern provinces, which prompted Saudis to deploy additional security units to the region. In addition, in September of last year, Saudi authorities, arguing a battle against corruption and a crack down on extremism, arrested dozens of people, including prominent clerics. According to a veteran Saudi journalist, this was an absurd action as “there was nothing that called for such arrests”. He argued that several among those arrested were not members of any political organization, but rather individuals with dissenting viewpoints to those held by the ruling family.

Among those arrested was Sheikh Salman al-Awdah, an influential cleric known for agitating for political change and for being a pro-shari'a activist. Awdah's arrest, while potentially disguised as part of the kingdom’s attempts to curb the influence of religious hardliners, is perhaps better understood in the context of the Qatar crisis. Thus, when KSA, with the support of a handful of other countries in the region, initiated a blockade of the small Gulf peninsula in June of last year, Awdah welcomed a report on his Twitter account suggesting that the then three-month-old row between Qatar and four Arab countries led by Saudi Arabia may be resolved. The ensuing arrest of the Sheikh seems to confirm a suspicion that it was potentially related to his favouring the renormalization of relations with Qatar, as opposed to it being related to MBS' campaign to moderate Islam in the kingdom.

A third factor that calls into question the sincerity of the modernization campaign is economic. Although Saudi Arabia became a very wealthy country following the discovery of oil in the region, massive inequality between the various classes has grown since, as these resources remain to be controlled by a select few. As a result, nearly one fifth of the population continues to live in poverty, especially in the predominantly Shi’a South where, ironically, much of the oil reservoirs are located. In these areas, sewage runs in the streets, and only crumbs are spent to alleviate the plight of the poor. Further, youth opportunities in Saudi Arabia are few, which leaves much to be desire, and translates into occasional unrest. Thus, the lack of possibilities has led many young men to join various terrorist organizations in search of a new life.

 

Statement by MBS in a conference organized in Riyadh in October 2017 [KSA]

Statement by MBS in a conference organized in Riyadh in October 2017 [KSA]

 

Vision 2030 and international image

In the context of the Saudi Vision 2030, the oil rich country is aiming to wean itself of its dependence on the natural resource which, despite its wealth generation capacity, has also been one of the main causes of the country's economic problems. KSA is facing an existential crisis that has led to a re-think of its long-standing practice of selling oil via fixed contracts. This is why Vision 2030 is so important. Seeking to regain better control over its economic and financial destiny, the kingdom has designed an ambitious economic restructuring plan, spearheaded by MBS. Vision 2030 constitutes a reform programme that aims to upgrade the country’s financial status by diversifying its economy in a world of low oil prices. Saudi Arabia thus needs overseas firms’ investments, most notably in non-oil sectors, in order to develop this state-of-the-art approach. This being said, Vision 2030 inevitably implies reforms on simultaneous fronts that go beyond economic affairs. The action plan has come in at a time when the kingdom is not only dealing with oil earnings and lowering its reserves, but also expanding its regional role. As a result, becoming a more democratic country could attract foreign wealth to a country that has traditionally been viewed in a negative light due to its repressive human rights record.  

This being said, Saudi Arabia also has a lot to do regarding its foreign policy in order to improve its international image. Despite this, the Saudi petition to push the US into a war with Iran has not ceased during recent years. Religious confrontation between the Sunni Saudi autocracy and Iran’s Shi’a theocracy has characterized the geopolitical tensions that have existed in the region for decades. Riyadh has tried to circumvent criticism of its military intervention in the Yemen through capitalizing on the Trump administration's hostility towards Iran, and involving the US in its campaign; thus granting it a degree of legitimacy as an international alliance against the Houthis. Recently, MBS stated that Trump was the “best person at the right time” to confront Iran. Conveniently enough, Trump and the Republicans are now in charge of US’ foreign affairs. Whereas the Obama administration, in its final months, suspended the sale of precision-guided missiles to Saudi Arabia, the Trump administration has moved to reverse this in the context of the Yemeni conflict. In addition, in May of this year, just a month after MBS visited Washington in a meeting which included discussions regarding the Iran accords, the kingdom has heaped praise on president Trump following his decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal.

All things considered, 2018 may go down in history as the irreversible end of the absolute archaic Saudi monarchy. This implosion was necessitated by events, such as those previously mentioned, that Saudi rulers could no longer control or avoid. Hitherto, MBS seems to be fulfilling his father’s wishes. He has hand-picked dutiful and like-minded princes and appointed them to powerful positions. As a result, MBS' actions suggest that the kingdom is turning over a new page in which a new generation of princes and technocrats will lead the breakthrough to a more moderate and democratic Saudi Arabia.

New awareness

However, although MBS has declared that the KSA is moving towards changing existing guardianship laws, due to cultural differences among Saudi families, to date, women still need power of attorney from a male relative to acquire a car, and risk imprisonment should they disobey male guardians. In addition, this past month, at least 12 prominent women’s rights activists who campaigned for women's driving rights just before the country lifted the ban were arrested. Although the lifting of the ban is now effective, 9 of these activists remain behind bars and are facing serious charges and long jail sentences. As such, women continue to face significant challenges in realizing basic rights, despite the positive media endorsement that MBS' lifting of the driving ban has received.

Although Saudi Arabia is making an effort in order to satisfy the public eye, it is with some degree of scepticism that one should approach the country's motivations. Taking into account Saudi Arabia’s current state of affairs, these events suggest that the women’s driving decree was an effort in order to improve the country’s external image as well as an effort to deflect attention from a host of problematic internal and external affairs, such as the proxy warfare in the region, the arrest of dissidents and clerics this past September, and the Qatari diplomatic crisis, which recently “celebrated” its first anniversary. Allowing women to drive is a relatively trivial sacrifice for the kingdom to make and has triggered sufficient positive reverberations globally. Such baby steps are positive, and should be encouraged, yet overlook the fact that they only represent the tip of the iceberg.

As it stands, the lifting of the driving ban does not translate into a concrete shift in the prevailing legal and cultural mindsets that initially opposed it. Rather, it is an indirect approach to strengthen Saudi’s power in economic and political terms. Yet, although women in Saudi Arabia may feel doubtful about the government’s intentions, time remains to be their best ally. After decades of an ultraconservative approach to handling their rights, the country has reached awareness that it can no longer sustain its continued oppression of women; and this for economic reasons, but also as a result of global pressures that affect the success of the country's foreign policies which, by extension, also negatively impact on its interests.

The silver lining for Saudi woman is that, even if the issue of women's rights is being leveraged to secure the larger interests of the kingdom, it continues to represent a slow and steady progression to a future in which women may be granted more freedoms. The downside is that, so long as these rights are not grafted into a broader legal framework that secures them beyond the rule of a single individual − like MBS − women's rights (and human rights in general) will continue to be the temporary product of individual whim. Without an overhaul of the shari'a system that perpetuates regressive attitudes towards women, the best that can be hoped for is the continuation of internal and external pressures that coerce the Saudi leadership into exacting further reforms in the meantime. As with all things, time will tell.

Jordan River Basin: Hydropolitics as an arena for regional cooperation

Satellite imagery of the Jordan River [NASA]

▲Satellite imagery of the Jordan River [NASA]

ANALYSISMarina Díaz Escudero

Water is an essential natural resource, not only for individual survival on Earth, but also for nation-states and their welfare; having an effect on socio-economic development, trade, health and population productivity.

As a natural determinant of power, its accessibility must be considered by states in their policies on national security; “hydropolitics” being the branch of study for this phenomenon. Although it has been, and continues to be, a major source of inter-state conflict, it is an arena in which cooperation and diplomacy between rival countries can set the ground for further political agreements, effectively leading to more stable and peaceful relations.

On the other hand, when water is used as a natural border or must be shared between various countries, concurrent cooperation between all of them is essential to find an effective and non-violent way to approach the resource. Otherwise, an overlapping of different, and potentially contradictory, bilateral agreements may lead to frictions. If one of the concerned countries is not present in negotiations, as some historical events suggest (e.g. 1992 multilateral negotiations in Moscow, where Lebanon and Syria where not present), this will always constitute an obstacle for regional stability.

Moreover, although 71% of the Earth’s surface is covered by water, factors such as economic interests, climate change, and explosive population growth are also challenging the sustainable distribution of water sources among countries. The future effects of this scarcity in the region will demand consistent political action in the long-term and current leaders should bear it in mind.

Water availability and conflict in the MENA region

The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is known as an arid and semi-arid region, with only 1% of the world’s renewable water resources. On average, water availability is only 1,200 cubic meters, around six times less than the worldwide average of 7,000 cubic meters.

As global temperatures rise, more frequent and severe droughts will take place in the region and this will make countries which already have socio-economic rivalries more prone to go to war with each other. According to the World Resources Institute, thirteen of the thirty three states that will suffer from worse water scarcity in the twenty-first century will be Middle Eastern countries.

To cite the findings of the National Intelligence Council (NIC) report, Global Trends: Paradox of Progress, more than thirty countries – nearly half of them in the Middle East – will experience extremely high water stress by 2035, increasing economic, social, and political tensions.

Although claims to the land were and are the main motives for much of the current conflict, water, as part of the contested territories, has always been considered as a primary asset to be won in conflict. In fact, recognition of the importance of water lent the term, the “War over Water”, to conflicts in the region, and control over the resource constitutes a significant advantage.

Despite there being several water bodies in the Middle East (Nile, Euphrates, Tigris…), the Jordan River basin is one of the most significant ones today in terms of its influence on current conflicts. The Jordan River Basin is a 223 km long river with an upper course from its sources up to the Galilee Sea, and a lower one, from the latter to the Dead Sea. Territories such as Lebanon, Israel and the West Bank are situated to its West, while Syria and Jordan border it to the East. Water scarcity in the Jordan watershed comes from many different factors, but the existence of cultural, religious and historical differences between the riparian countries (situated on the banks of the river) has led to a centuries-long mismanagement of the source.

Tensions between Zionism and the Arab world on regards to the Jordan River became noticeable in the 1950s, when most Arab countries rejected the Johnston Plan that aimed at dividing the water by constructing a number of dams and canals on the different tributaries of the river. The plan was based on an earlier one commissioned by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNWRA) and was accepted by the water technical committees of the five riparian countries. Nevertheless, the Arab League didn’t give the go-ahead and even hardened its position after the Suez Crisis.

In spite of this, Jordan and Israel decided to abide by their allocations and developed two projects, the Israeli National Water Carrier (to transport water from the north to the center and south) and Jordan’s East Ghor Main Canal (King Abdullah Canal). In retaliation and with severe consequences, Arab states reunited in an Arab Summit (1964) and decided to divert Jordan’s headwaters to the Yarmouk river (for the Syrian Arab Republic and Jordan), depriving Israel of 35% of its Water Carrier capacity.

This provocation led to a series of military clashes and prompted Israel’s attack on Arab construction projects; a move that would help precipitate the 1967 Six-Day War, according to some analysts. As a result of the war, Israel gained control of the waters of the West Bank (formely Jordan-annexed in the 1948 war and today still controlled by the Israeli Civil Administration) and the Sea of Galilee (today constituing about 60% of the country’s fresh water).

Later, in 1995, by the Article 40 of the Oslo II political agreement, […] Israel recognized Palestinian water rights in the West Bank and established the Joint Water Committee to manage and develop new supplies and to investigate illegal water withdrawals. Nevertheless, the loss of control over water in the West Bank has never been accepted by neighbouring Arab countries as, despite the agreement, much of the water coming from it is still directly given to Israeli consumers (and only a smaller fraction to Palestinians living under their control).

Role of water in Syrian-Israeli hostilities

Hostilities have been covering the agenda of Syrian-Israeli relationships ever since the Armistice Agreements signed by Israel with each of the four neighbouring Arab countries in 1949. This is compounded by the fact that there is seldom mutual agreement with resolutions proposed by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).

The Golan Heights, a rocky plateau in south-western Syria, was taken away by Israel in the aftermath of the Six-Day War and is still considered an Israeli-occupied territory. In 1974 the Agreement on Disengagement was signed, ending the Yom Kippur War and resulting in the formation of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF), a buffer zone separating the Israeli portion of the Golan Heights and the rest of Syria. Although Israel kept most of the Golan Heights territory, in 1981 it unilaterally passed the Golan Heights Law to impose its jurisdiction and administration on the occupied territory (refusing to call it “annexation”). These laws did not receive international recognition and were declared void by the UNSC.

The fact that Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated in April 2016 in a weekly cabinet meeting that “the Golan Heights will remain forever in Israeli hands” has once again triggered the rejection of UNSC’s members, who have declared that the status of the Heights “remains unchanged.”

Rainwater catchment in the Golan Heights feeds into the Jordan River and nowadays provides a third of Israel's water supply. Although “Syria has built several dams in the Yarmouk river sub-basin, which is part of the Jordan River basin”, the Golan Heights are likely to remain an important thorn in future Israeli-Syrian relationships.

 

Map of the Jordan River Basin [Palestinian Authority]

Map of the Jordan River Basin [Palestinian Authority]

 

Water as a casus belli between Lebanon and Israel

In March 2002, Lebanon decided to divert part of the Hasbani (a major tributary of the Jordan upper course) to supply the lebanese Wazzani village. Ariel Sharon, the former Prime Minister of Israel, said that the issue could easily become a "casus belli". According to Israel, Lebanon should have made consultations before pumping any water from the Springs, but both the Lebanese government and Hezbollah (a shi’a militant group) condemned the idea.

The Wazzani project, according to Lebanon, only aimed to redevelop the south by extracting a limited amount of water from the Hasbani; 300 MCM per year (they drew 7 MCM by the time). The actual conflict with Israel began when Lebanon started constructing the pumping station very close to the Israeli border.

The United States (US) decided to establish a State Department water expert in order to assess the situation “and cool tempers” but in 2006, during the Lebanon war, the pumping station and other infrastructures, such as an underground water diversion pipe which run Letani river water to many villages, were destroyed.

Although Israeli-Lebanese tensions have continued due to other issues, such as spying, natural gas control and border incidents, water source domination has been a significant contributor to conflict between the two states.

Inter-Arab conflicts on water allocation

Some inter-Arab conflicts on regards to water distribution have also taken place, but they are small-scale and low level ones. In 1987, an agreement was signed between Jordan and Syria which allowed the latter to build twenty five dams with a limited capacity in the Yarmouk River. Later on it was proved that Syria had been violating the pact by constructing more dams than permitted: in 2014 it had already constructed forty two of them. New bilateral agreements were signed in 2001, 2003 and 2004, but repeated violations of these agreements by Syria in terms of water-allocation became unsustainable for Jordan. Most recently (2012), former Jordan's water minister Hazim El Naser stressed the necessity “to end violations of the water-sharing accords.”

Although these are low-level tensions, they could quickly escalate into a regional conflict between Jordan, Syria and Israel, as a decrease of water from the Yarmouk released by Syria to Jordan may prevent Jordan to comply with its commitments towards Israel.

Regional cooperation: from multilateralism to bilateralism

Since the beginning of the last century, attempts to achieve multilateral cooperation and a basin-wide agreement between the five co-riparian countries have been hindered by regional political conflict. Boundary definition, choices about decision-making arrangements, and issues of accountability, together with other political divisions, can help explain the creation of subwatershed communities of interest instead of a major watershed agreement between all neighbour countries.

The Israeli-Palestine peace process begun in 1991 with the Conference in Madrid, attended by all riparians: Israel, Jordan, Palestine, Lebanon and Syria. Co-sponsored by the US and the Soviet Union as representatives of the international community, it addressed several regional issues, such as environment, arms control, economic development and, of course, water distribution (in fact, water rights became one of the trickiest areas of discussion).

In 1992, multilateral negotiations about regional cooperation continued in Moscow but this time they were only attended by Israel, the Jordanian-Palestinian delegation and the international community; Syria and Lebanon were not present. “After the failed Johnston plan, external efforts to achieve a multilateral agreement through cooperation on water sources were attempted by the Centre for Environmental Studies and Resource Management (CESAR) […] As Syria and Lebanon did not want to participate in a process involving Israel, (it) ran parallel processes for Israel, the Palestinian Authority and Jordan on the one hand, and Syria and Lebanon on the other hand.”

As a matter of fact, bilateral instruments grew in importance and two treaties, between Israel and Jordan/Palestine respectively, were signed: The Treaty of Peace between The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and The State of Israel (1994) and The Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip (Oslo II, 1995). Discussions about water use and joint water management played an important role and were included in the annexes.

In 1996, the Trilateral Declaration on Principles for Cooperation on Water-Related Matters and New and Additional Water Resources was signed by Israel, Jordan and the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) and in 2003 the first two initiated a plan called Roadmap for Peace which included the revival of cooperation on regional issues like water.

Although Israel and Syria started some negotiations to solve the Golan Heights’ problem in 2008, after the break out of the Syrian civil war distrust between both actors has increased, leaving the most important thorn in multilateral regional negotatiations still unsolved. Nevertheless, “a new government in Syria after the end of the war may provide new opportunities for improved bi- and ultimately multilateral cooperation,” says the FAO. The previous year (2007) Jordan and the Syrian Arab Republic also signed some agreements “in regard to shared water in the Yarmouk river basin.”

Role of Non-Governmental Organizations

Civil society has also been an important platform for resource-management discussions between riparian countries.

Middle Eastern rhetoric, according to the BBC, “often portrays the issue of water as an existential, zero-sum conflict - casting either Israel as a malevolent sponge sucking up Arab water resources, or the implacably hostile Arabs as threatening Israel's very existence by denying life-giving water.”

For this reason, in 2010, Friends of the Earth Middle East (FoEME, also called EcoPeace Middle East) stressed the importance of replacing this win-lose approach for a compromising perspective of mutual gains for all. In this way, their proposals don’t “include quantitative water allocations, but the implementation of a joint institutional structure that is continuously tasked with peaceful conflict resolution over water resources; […] defining water rights not as the access to a certain water quantity, but as a broader bundle of rights and duties to access and use the available water and to uphold quality and quantity standards.”

Through “The Good Water Neighbors” project (2001), the NGO tried to raise awareness about the negative consequences of leaving this issue unmanaged and reiterated its willingness to strenghten ”institutional capacities for collaboration in the region.” According to the staff, Israel, Jordan and Palestine could develop a certain interdependence, focused on water (Israel to Jordan/Palestine) and solar-generated electricity (Jordan to Palestine/Israel), in order to facilitate the powering of desalination plants and produce more cleanwater for sale.

The use of this type of political support for transboundary cooperation, based on water access but focused on solving less cultural and sensitive problems (like environmental sustainability), as a means to opening up avenues for dialogue on other political issues, could be the key for a lasting peace in the region.

According to Gidon Brombert, cofounder and Israeli director of FoEME, adopting “healthy interdependencies is a powerful way to promote regional water and energy stability as a foundation for long-lasting peace between our people.”

A testament to the success of these initiatives is the fact that Jordan and Israel scored 56.67 under the Water Cooperation Quotient (WCQ) 2017, which means that there is currently zero risk of a water-related war between both states (50 is the minimum score for this to apply).

Final key points and conclusions

There is no doubt that water issues have been a key discussion point between riparian countries in the Jordan River watershed since the late nineteenth century, and rightly so, as the only way to achieve a long-lasting peace in the region is to accept that water management is an integral part of political discourse and decisions. Not only because it is an essential factor in the conflicts that arise between states, but because agreements on other political matters could be furthered through the establishment of sound agreements in the hydropolitical arena.

In other words, a “baby-step” approach to politics should be applied: peaceful discussions on this and other matters leveraged to talk about other sources of conflict and utilized to improve political relations between two parties. The Korean conflict is a good example: although both Koreas are far from agreeing with regards to their political outlook, they have been able to cooperate in other fields, such as the Winter Olympic games. Communication during the games was used to subtly suggest avenues for a political reapproachment, which now seems to be progressing satisfactorily.

As for multilateral-bilateral conditions of negotiations, it is important to take into account the fact that the Jordan River basin, mainly due to its geological condition as a watershed, has to be shared by several different countries, five to be exact. This may seem obvious but clearly many actors don’t see its implications.

Understandably, it is very difficult for a state to manage various bilateral agreements concerning the same asset with countries that are mutually at odds with one another. Their contents can overlap, creating contradictions and making the achievement of a general arrangement not only disorganized, but also challenging. Notwithstanding, a multilaterally agreed distribution of the basin’s water – taking into account the necessities of all riparians simultaneously, could more easily pave the way for further cooperation on other, pressing, political issues.

Last but not least, it is important not to forget about policies related to other regional affairs, and their potential effect on water management. Climate change, for instance, will certainly affect water availability in the MENA region and the Jordan River basin, easily disrupting and modifying past and future agreements on the resource’s allocation and distribution. Attention should also be paid to interest groups and to the economic situation of the countries involved in the negotitations, as these will be determinant in states’ decisions about the implementation of certain future projects.

¿Qué ata tanto a Washington y Riad?

[Bruce Riedel, Kings and Presidents. Saudi Arabia and the United States since FDR. Brookings Institution Press. Washington, 2018. 251 p.]

 

RESEÑAEmili J. Blasco

Petróleo a cambio de protección es el pacto que a comienzos de 1945 sellaron Franklin D. Roosevelt y el rey Abdulaziz bin Saud a bordo de USS Quincy, en aguas de El Cairo, cuando el presidente estadounidense regresaba de la Conferencia de Yalta. Desde entonces, la especial relación entre Estados Unidos y Arabia Saudí ha sido uno de los elementos claves de la política internacional. Hoy el fracking hace menos necesario para Washington el petróleo arábigo, pero cultivar la amistad saudí sigue interesando a la Casa Blanca, incluso en una presidencia poco ortodoxa en cuestiones diplomáticas: el primer país que Donald Trump visitó como presidente fue precisamente Arabia Saudí.

Los altos y bajos en esa relación, debidos a las vicisitudes mundiales, especialmente en Oriente Medio, han marcado el tenor de los contactos entre los distintos presidentes de Estados Unidos y los correspondientes monarcas de la Casa de Saúd. A analizar el contenido de esas relaciones, siguiendo las sucesivas parejas de interlocutores entre Washington y Riad, se dedica este libro de Bruce Riedel, quien fue analista de la CIA y miembro del Consejo de Seguridad Nacional estadounidense como especialista en la región, y ahora dirige el Proyecto Inteligencia del think tank Brookings Institution.

En esa relación sorprende la posición central que ocupa la cuestión palestina. A veces podría pensarse que la invocación que muchos países árabes hacen del conflicto palestino-israelí es retórica, pero Riedel constata que en el caso de Arabia Saudí ese asunto es fundamental. Formó parte del pacto inicial entre Roosevelt y Abdulaziz bin Saud (el presidente estadounidense se comprometió a no apoyar la partición de Palestina para crear el Estado de Israel sin contar con el parecer árabe, algo que Truman no respetó, consciente de que Riad no podía romper con Washington porque necesitaba a las petroleras estadounidenses) y desde entonces ha aparecido en cada ocasión.

Kings and Presidents. Saudi Arabia and the United States since FDR

Los avances o estancamientos en el proceso de paz árabe-israelí, y la distinta pasión de los reyes saudís sobre este asunto, han marcado directamente la relación entre las administraciones estadounidenses y la Monarquía saudí. Por ejemplo, el apoyo de Washington a Israel en la guerra de 1967 derivó en el embargo petrolero de 1973; los esfuerzos de George Bush senior y Bill Clinton por un acuerdo de paz ayudaron a una estrecha relación con el rey Fahd y el príncipe heredero Abdalá; este, en cambio, propició un enfriamiento ante el desinterés mostrado por George Bush junior. “Un vibrante y efectivo proceso de paz ayudará a cimentar una fuerte relación entre rey y presidente; un proceso encallado y exhausto dañará su conexión”.

¿Seguirá siendo esta cuestión algo determinante para las nuevas generaciones de príncipes saudís? “La causa palestina es profundamente popular en la sociedad saudí, especialmente en el establishment clerical. La Casa de Saúd ha convertido la creación de un estado palestino, con Jerusalén como su capital, en algo emblemático de su política desde la década de 1960. Un cambio generacional es improbable que altere esa postura fundamental”.

Además de este, existen otros dos aspectos que se han mostrado disruptivos en la entente Washington-Riad: el Wahabismo impulsado por Arabia Saudí y el requerimiento de Estados Unidos de reformas políticas en el mundo árabe. Riedel asegura que, dada la fundacional alianza entre la Casa de Saúd y esa estricta variante suní del Islam, que Riad ha promovido en el mundo para congraciarse con sus clérigos, como compensación cada vez que ha debido plegarse a las exigencias del impío Estados Unidos, no cabe ninguna ruptura entre ambas instancias. “Arabia Saudí no puede abandonar el Wahabismo y sobrevivir en su forma actual”, advierte.

Por ello, el libro termina con una perspectiva más bien pesimista sobre el cambio –democratización, respeto de los derechos humanos– que a Arabia Saudí le plantea la comunidad internacional (ciertamente que sin mucha insistencia, en el caso de Estados Unidos). No solo Riad fue el “principal jugador” en la contrarrevolución cuando se produjo la Primavera Árabe, sino que puede ser un factor que vaya contra una evolución positiva de Oriente Medio. “Superficialmente parece que Arabia Saudí es una fuerza de orden en la región, alguien que está intentando prevenir el caos y el desorden. Pero a largo plazo, por intentar mantener un orden insostenible, aplicado a la fuerza por un estado policial, el reino podría, de hecho, ser una fuerza para el caos”.

Riedel ha tratado personalmente a destacados miembros de la familia real saudí. A pesar de una estrecha relación con algunos de ellos, especialmente con el príncipe Bandar bin Sultan, que fue embajador en Estados Unidos durante más de veinte años, el libro no es condescendiente con Arabia Saudí en las disputas entre Washington y Riad. Más crítico con George W. Bush que con Barack Obama, Riedel también señala las incongruencias de este último en sus políticas hacia Oriente Medio.

Khashoggi case: the lack of European unity of action

Protest in London in October 2018 after the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi

▲ Protest in London in October 2018 after the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi [John Lubbock, Wikimedia Commons]

ANALYSISNaomi Moreno Cosgrove

October 2nd last year was the last time Jamal Khashoggi—a well-known journalist and critic of the Saudi government—was seen alive. The Saudi writer, United States resident and Washington Post columnist, had entered the Saudi consulate in the Turkish city of Istanbul with the aim of obtaining documentation that would certify he had divorced his previous wife, so he could remarry; but never left.

After weeks of divulging bits of information, the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, laid out his first detailed account of the killing of the dissident journalist inside the Saudi Consulate. Eighteen days after Khashoggi disappeared, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) acknowledged that the 59-year-old writer had died after his disappearance, revealing in their investigation findings that Jamal Khashoggi died after an apparent “fist-fight” inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul; but findings were not reliable. Resultantly, the acknowledgement by the KSA of the killing in its own consulate seemed to pose more questions than answers.

Eventually, after weeks of repeated denials that it had anything to do with his disappearance, the contradictory scenes, which were the latest twists in the “fast-moving saga”, forced the kingdom to eventually acknowledge that indeed it was Saudi officials who were behind the gruesome murder thus damaging the image of the kingdom and its 33-year-old crown prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS). What had happened was that the culmination of these events, including more than a dozen Saudi officials who reportedly flew into Istanbul and entered the consulate just before Khashoggi was there, left many sceptics wondering how it was possible for MBS to not know. Hence, the world now casts doubt on the KSA’s explanation over Khashoggi’s death, especially when it comes to the shifting explanations and MBS’ role in the conspiracy.

As follows, the aim of this study is to examine the backlash Saudi Arabia’s alleged guilt has caused, in particular, regarding European state-of-affairs towards the Middle East country. To that end, I will analyse various actions taken by European countries which have engaged in the matter and the different modus operandi these have carried out in order to reject a bloodshed in which arms selling to the kingdom has become the key issue.

Since Khashoggi went missing and while Turkey promised it would expose the “naked truth” about what happened in the Saudi consulate, Western countries had been putting pressure on the KSA for it to provide facts about its ambiguous account on the journalist’s death. In a joint statement released on Sunday 21st October 2018, the United Kingdom, France and Germany said: “There remains an urgent need for clarification of exactly what happened on 2nd October – beyond the hypotheses that have been raised so far in the Saudi investigation, which need to be backed by facts to be considered credible.” What happened after the kingdom eventually revealed the truth behind the murder, was a rather different backlash. In fact, regarding post-truth reactions amongst European countries, rather divergent responses have occurred.

Terminating arms selling exports to the KSA had already been carried out by a number of countries since the kingdom launched airstrikes on Yemen in 2015; a conflict that has driven much of Yemen’s population to be victims of an atrocious famine. The truth is that arms acquisition is crucial for the KSA, one of the world’s biggest weapons importers which is heading a military coalition in order to fight a proxy war in which tens of thousands of people have died, causing a major humanitarian catastrophe. In this context, calls for more constraints have been growing particularly in Europe since the killing of the dissident journalist. These countries, which now demand transparent clarifications in contrast to the opacity in the kingdom’s already-given explanations, are threatening the KSA with suspending military supply to the kingdom.

COUNTRIES THAT HAVE CEASED ARMS SELLING

Germany

Probably one of the best examples with regards to the ceasing of arms selling—after not been pleased with Saudi state of affairs—is Germany. Following the acknowledgement of what happened to Khashoggi, German Chancellor Angela Merkel declared in a statement that she condemned his death with total sharpness, thus calling for transparency in the context of the situation, and stating that her government halted previously approved arms exports thus leaving open what would happen with those already authorised contracts, and that it wouldn’t approve any new weapons exports to the KSA: “I agree with all those who say that the, albeit already limited, arms export can’t take place in the current circumstances,” she said at a news conference.

So far this year, the KSA was the second largest customer in the German defence industry just after Algeria, as until September last year, the German federal government allocated export licenses of arms exports to the kingdom worth 416.4 million euros. Respectively, according to German Foreign Affair Minister, Heiko Maas, Germany was the fourth largest exporter of weapons to the KSA.

This is not the first time the German government has made such a vow. A clause exists in the coalition agreement signed by Germany’s governing parties earlier in 2018 which stated that no weapons exports may be approved to any country “directly” involved in the Yemeni conflict in response to the kingdom’s countless airstrikes carried out against Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in the area for several years. Yet, what is clear is that after Khashoggi’s murder, the coalition’s agreement has been exacerbated. Adding to this military sanction Germany went even further and proposed explicit sanctions to the Saudi authorities who were directly linked to the killing. As follows, by stating that “there are more questions unanswered than answered,” Maas declared that Germany has issued the ban for entering Europe’s border-free Schengen zone—in close coordination with France and Britain—against the 18 Saudi nationals who are “allegedly connected to this crime.”

Following the decision, Germany has thus become the first major US ally to challenge future arms sales in the light of Khashoggi’s case and there is thus a high likelihood that this deal suspension puts pressure on other exporters to carry out the same approach in the light of Germany’s Economy Minister, Peter Altmaier’s, call on other European Union members to take similar action, arguing that “Germany acting alone would limit the message to Riyadh.”

Norway

Following the line of the latter claim, on November 9th last year, Norway became the first country to back Germany’s decision when it announced it would freeze new licenses for arms exports to the KSA. Resultantly, in her statement, Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ine Eriksen Søreide, declared that the government had decided that in the present situation they will not give new licenses for the export of defence material or multipurpose good for military use to Saudi Arabia. According to the Søreide, this decision was taken after “a broad assessment of recent developments in Saudi Arabia and the unclear situation in Yemen.” Although Norwegian ministry spokesman declined to say whether the decision was partly motivated by the murder of the Saudi journalist, not surprisingly, Norway’s announcement came a week after its foreign minister called the Saudi ambassador to Oslo with the aim of condemning Khashoggi’s assassination.  As a result, the latter seems to imply Norway’s motivations were a mix of both; the Yemeni conflict and Khashoggi’s death.

Denmark and Finland

By following a similar decision made by neighbouring Germany and Norway—despite the fact that US President Trump backed MBS, although the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) had assessed that the crown prince was responsible for the order of the killing—Denmark and Finland both announced that they would also stop exporting arms to the KSA.

Emphasising on the fact that they were “now in a new situation”—after the continued deterioration of the already terrible situation in Yemen and the killing of the Saudi journalist—Danish Foreign Minister, Anders Samuelsen, stated that Denmark would proceed to cease military exports to the KSA remarking that Denmark already had very restrictive practices in this area and hoped that this decision would be able to create a “further momentum and get more European Union (EU) countries involved in the conquest to support tight implementation of the Union’s regulatory framework in this area.”

Although this ban is still less expansive compared to German measures—which include the cancelation of deals that had already been approved—Denmark’s cease of goods’ exports will likely crumble the kingdom’s strategy, especially when it comes to technology. Danish exports to the KSA, which were mainly used for both military and civilian purposes, are chiefly from BAE Systems Applied Intelligence, a subsidiary of the United Kingdom’s BAE Systems, which sold technology that allowed Intellectual Property surveillance and data analysis for use in national security and investigation of serious crimes. The suspension thus includes some dual-use technologies, a reference to materials that were purposely thought to have military applications in favour of the KSA.

On the same day Denmark carried out its decision, Finland announced they were also determined to halt arms export to Saudi Arabia. Yet, in contrast to Norway’s approach, Finnish Prime Minister, Juha Sipilä, held that, of course, the situation in Yemen lead to the decision, but that Khashoggi’s killing was “entirely behind the overall rationale”.

Finnish arms exports to the KSA accounted for 5.3 million euros in 2017. Nevertheless, by describing the situation in Yemen as “catastrophic”, Sipilä declared that any existing licenses (in the region) are old, and in these circumstances, Finland would refuse to be able to grant updated ones. Although, unlike Germany, Helsinki’s decision does not revoke existing arms licenses to the kingdom, the Nordic country has emphasized the fact that it aims to comply with the EU’s arms export criteria, which takes particular account of human rights and the protection of regional peace, security and stability, thus casting doubt on the other European neighbours which, through a sense of incoherence, have not attained to these values.

European Parliament

Speaking in supranational terms, the European Parliament agreed with the latter countries and summoned EU members to freeze arms sales to the kingdom in the conquest of putting pressure on member states to emulate the Germany’s decision.      

By claiming that arms exports to Saudi Arabia were breaching international humanitarian law in Yemen, the European Parliament called for sanctions on those countries that refuse to respect EU rules on weapons sales. In fact, the latest attempt in a string of actions compelling EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini to dictate an embargo against the KSA, including a letter signed by MEPs from several parties.

Rapporteur for a European Parliament report on EU arms exports, Bodil Valero said: "European weapons are contributing to human rights abuses and forced migration, which are completely at odds with the EU's common values." As a matter of fact, two successful European Parliament resolutions have hitherto been admitted, but its advocates predicted that some member states especially those who share close trading ties with the kingdom are deep-seated, may be less likely to cooperate. Fact that has eventually occurred.

COUNTRIES THAT HAVE NOT CEASED ARMS SELLING

France

In contrast to the previously mentioned countries, other European states such as France, UK and Spain, have approached the issue differently and have signalled that they will continue “business as usual”.

Both France and the KSA have been sharing close diplomatic and commercial relations ranging from finance to weapons. Up to now, France relished the KSA, which is a bastion against Iranian significance in the Middle East region. Nevertheless, regarding the recent circumstances, Paris now faces a daunting challenge.

Just like other countries, France Foreign Minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, announced France condemned the killing “in the strongest terms” and demanded an exhaustive investigation. "The confirmation of Mr. Jamal Khashoggi's death is a first step toward the establishment of the truth. However, many questions remain unanswered," he added. Following this line, France backed Germany when sanctioning the 18 Saudi citizens thus mulling a joint ban from the wider visa-free Schengen zone. Nevertheless, while German minister Altmeier summoned other European countries to stop selling arms to Riyadh—until the Saudi authorities gave the true explanation on Khashoggi’s death—, France refused to report whether it would suspend arms exports to the KSA. “We want Saudi Arabia to reveal all the truth with full clarity and then we will see what we can do,” he told in a news conference.           

In this context, Amnesty International France has become one of Paris’ biggest burdens. The organization has been putting pressure on the French government for it to freeze arms sales to the realm. Hence, by acknowledging France is one of the five biggest arms exporters to Riyadh—similar to the Unites States and Britain—Amnesty International France is becoming aware France’s withdrawal from the arms sales deals is crucial in order to look at the Yemeni conflict in the lens of human rights rather than from a non-humanitarian-geopolitical perspective. Meanwhile, France tries to justify its inaction. When ministry deputy spokesman Oliver Gauvin was asked whether Paris would mirror Berlin’s actions, he emphasized the fact that France’s arms sales control policy was meticulous and based on case-by-case analysis by an inter-ministerial committee. According to French Defence Minister Florence Parly, France exported 11 billion euros worth of arms to the kingdom from 2008 to 2017, fact that boosted French jobs. In 2017 alone, licenses conceivably worth 14.7 billion euros were authorized. Moreover, she went on stating that those arms exports take into consideration numerous criteria among which is the nature of exported materials, the respect of human rights, and the preservation of peace and regional security. "More and more, our industrial and defence sectors need these arms exports. And so, we cannot ignore the impact that all of this has on our defence industry and our jobs," she added. As a result, despite President Emmanuel Macron has publicly sought to devalue the significance relations with the KSA have, minister Parly, seemed to suggest the complete opposite.

Anonymously, a government minister held it was central that MBS retained his position. “The challenge is not to lose MBS, even if he is not a choir boy. A loss of influence in the region would cost us much more than the lack of arms sales”. Notwithstanding France’s ambiguity, Paris’ inconclusive attitude is indicating France’s clout in the region is facing a vulnerable phase. As president Macron told MBS at a side-line G20 summit conversation in December last year, he is worried. Although the context of this chat remains unclear, many believe Macron’s intentions were to persuade MBS to be more transparent as a means to not worsen the kingdom’s reputation and thus to, potentially, dismantle France´s bad image.

United Kingdom

As it was previously mentioned, the United Kingdom took part in the joint statement carried out also by France and Germany through its foreign ministers which claimed there was a need for further explanations regarding Khashoggi’s killing. Yet, although Britain’s Foreign Office said it was considering its “next steps” following the KSA’s admission over Khashoggi’s killing, UK seems to be taking a rather similar approach to France—but not Germany—regarding the situation.

In 2017, the UK was the sixth-biggest arms dealer in the world, and the second-largest exporter of arms to the KSA, behind the US. This is held to be a reflection of a large spear in sales last year. After the KSA intervened in the civil war in Yemen in early 2015, the UK approved more than 3.5billion euros in military sales to the kingdom between April 2015 and September 2016.

As a result, Theresa May has been under pressure for years to interrupt arms sales to the KSA specially after human rights advocates claimed the UK was contributing to alleged violations of international humanitarian law by the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen. Adding to this, in 2016, a leaked parliamentary committee report suggested that it was likely that British weapons had been used by the Saudi-led coalition to violate international law, and that manufactured aircraft by BAE Systems, have been used in combat missions in Yemen.

Lately, in the context of Khashoggi’s death things have aggravated and the UK is now facing a great amount of pressure, mainly embodied by UK’s main opposition Labour party which calls for a complete cease in its arms exports to the KSA.  In addition, in terms of a more international strain, the European Union has also got to have a say in the matter. Philippe Lamberts, the Belgian leader of the Green grouping of parties, said that Brexit should not be an excuse for the UK to abdicate on its moral responsibilities and that Theresa May had to prove that she was keen on standing up to the kind of atrocious behaviour shown by the killing of Khashoggi and hence freeze arms sales to Saudi Arabia immediately.

Nonetheless, in response and laying emphasis on the importance the upholding relation with UK’s key ally in the Middle East has, London has often been declining calls to end arms exports to the KSA. Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt defended there will be “consequences to the relationship with Saudi Arabia” after the killing of Khashoggi, but he has also pointed out that the UK has an important strategic relationship with Riyadh which needs to be preserved. As a matter of fact, according to some experts, UK’s impending exit from the EU has played a key role. The Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) claims Theresa May’s pursuit for post-Brexit trade deals has seen an unwelcome focus on selling arms to some of the world's most repressive regimes. Nevertheless, by thus tackling the situation in a similar way to France, the UK justifies its actions by saying that it has one of the most meticulous permitting procedures in the world by remarking that its deals comprehend safeguards that counter improper uses.

Spain

After Saudi Arabia’s gave its version for Khashoggi’s killing, the Spanish government said it was “dismayed” and echoed Antonio Guterres’ call for a thorough and transparent investigation to bring justice to all of those responsible for the killing. Yet, despite the clamour that arose after the murder of the columnist, just like France and the UK, Spain’s Prime Minister, Pedro Sánchez, defended arms exporting to the KSA by claiming it was in Spain’s interest to keep selling military tools to Riyadh. Sanchez held he stood in favour of Spain’s interests, namely jobs in strategic sectors that have been badly affected by “the drama that is unemployment". Thusly, proclaiming Spain’s unwillingness to freeze arms exports to the kingdom. In addition, even before Khashoggi’s killing, Sanchez's government was subject to many critics after having decided to proceed with the exporting of 400 laser-guided bombs to Saudi Arabia, despite worries that they could harm civilians in Yemen. Notwithstanding this, Sánchez justified Spain’s decision in that good ties with the Gulf state, a key commercial partner for Spain, needed to be kept.

As a matter of fact, Spain’s state-owned shipbuilder Navantia, in which 5,500 employees work, signed a deal in July last year which accounted for 1.8 billion euros that supplied the Gulf country with five navy ships.  This shipbuilder is situated in the southern region of Andalusia, a socialist bulwark which accounts for Spain's highest unemployment estimates and which has recently held regional elections. Hence, it was of the socialist president’s interest to keep these constituencies pleased and the means to this was, of course, not interrupting arms deals with the KSA.

As a consequence, Spain has recently been ignoring the pressures that have arose from MEP’s and from Sanchez’s minorities in government—Catalan separatist parties and far-left party Podemos— which demand a cease in arms exporting. For the time being, Spain will continue business with the KSA as usual.

CONCLUSION

All things considered, while Saudi Arabia insists that MBS was not aware of the gruesome murder and is distracting the international attention towards more positive headlines—such as the appointment of the first female ambassador to the US—in order to clear the KSA’s image in the context of Khashoggi’s murder, several European countries have taken actions against the kingdom’s interests. Yet, the way each country has approached the matter has led to the rise of two separate blocks which are at discordance within Europe itself. Whereas some European leaders have shown a united front in casting blame on the Saudi government, others seem to express geopolitical interests are more important.

During the time Germany, Norway, Denmark and Finland are being celebrated by human rights advocates for following through on their threat to halt sales to the kingdom, bigger arms exporters—like those that have been analysed—have pointed out that the latter nations have far less to lose than they do. Nonetheless, inevitably, the ceasing carried out by the northern European countries which are rather small arms exporters in comparison to bigger players such as the UK and France, is likely to have exacerbated concerns within the European arms industry of a growing anti-Saudi consensus in the European Union or even beyond.

What is clear is that due to the impact Saudi Arabia’s state of affairs have caused, governments and even companies worldwide are coming under pressure to abandon their ties to the oil-rich, but at the same time, human-rights-violating Saudi Arabian leadership. Resultantly, in Europe, countries are taking part in two divergent blocks that are namely led by two of the EU’s most compelling members: France and Germany. These two sides are of rather distant opinions regarding the matter, fact that does not seem to be contributing in terms of the so-much-needed European Union integration.

Los Emiratos Árabes Unidos y la dinastía Al Nahyan

Visa aérea de Dubái [Pixabay]

▲ Visa aérea de Dubái [Pixabay]

ENSAYOSebastián Bruzzone Martínez

I. ORIGEN Y FUNDACIÓN DE LOS EMIRATOS ÁRABES UNIDOS

En la antigüedad, el territorio era habitado por tribus árabes, nómadas agricultores, artesanos y comerciantes, acostumbradas a saquear barcos mercantes de potencias europeas que navegaban por sus costas. El Islam se asienta en la cultura local en el siglo VII d.C., y el Islam sunní en el siglo XI d.C. A partir de 1820, Reino Unido firma con los dirigentes o jeques de la zona un tratado de paz para poner fin a la piratería. En 1853, ambas partes firmaron otro acuerdo por el que Reino Unido establecía un protectorado militar en el territorio. Y en 1892, por las pretensiones de Rusia, Francia y Alemania, firmaron un tercer acuerdo que garantizaba el monopolio sobre el comercio y explotación únicamente para los británicos. La zona emiratí pasó de llamarse “Costa de los piratas” a “Estados de la Tregua” o “Trucial States” (los actuales siete Emiratos Árabes Unidos, Catar y Bahréin).

Durante la Primera Guerra Mundial, los aeródromos y puertos del Golfo tomaron un importante papel en el desarrollo del conflicto en favor de Reino Unido. Al término de la Segunda Guerra Mundial en 1945, se creó la Liga de Estados Árabes (Liga Árabe), formada por aquellos que gozaban de cierta independencia colonial. La organización llamó la atención de los Estados de la Tregua.

En 1960, se crea la Organización de Países Exportadores de Petróleo (OPEP), siendo Arabia Saudita, Irán, Irak, Kuwait y Venezuela sus fundadores y con sede en Viena, Austria. Los siete emiratos, que posteriormente formarían los Emiratos Árabes Unidos, se unieron en 1967.

En 1968, Reino Unido retira su fuerza militar de la región, y los Estados de la Tregua organizaron la Federación de Emiratos del Golfo Pérsico, pero fracasó al independizarse Catar y Bahréin. En los años posteriores, se inicia la explotación de los enormes pozos petrolíferos descubiertos años atrás.

En 1971, seis Emiratos se independizaron del imperio británico: Abu Dhabi, Dubái, Sharjah, Ajmán, Umm al Qaywayn y Fujairah, formando la federación de los Emiratos Árabes Unidos, con un sistema legal basado en la constitución de 1971. Una vez consolidada, el 12 de junio se unieron a la Liga Árabe. El séptimo emirato, Ras Al-Khaimah se adhirió al año siguiente.

A partir de la crisis del petróleo de 1973, los Emiratos comenzaron a acumular una enorme riqueza, debido a que los miembros de la OPEP decidieron no exportar más petróleo a los países que apoyaron a Israel durante la guerra de Yom Kipur. Actualmente, el 80-85% de la población de EAU es inmigrante. Emiratos Árabes Unidos pasó a ser el tercer productor de petróleo de Oriente Medio, tras Arabia Saudita y Libia.

 

II. SISTEMA POLÍTICO Y LEGAL

Por la constitución de 1971, los Emiratos Árabes Unidos se constituyen en una monarquía federal. Cada Estado es regido por su emir (título nobiliario de los jeques, Sheikh). Cada emirato, posee una gran autonomía política, legislativa, económica y judicial, teniendo cada uno sus consejos ejecutivos, siempre en correspondencia con el gobierno federal. No existen los partidos políticos. Las autoridades federales se componen de:

Consejo Supremo de la Federación o de Emires: es la suprema autoridad del Estado. Está compuesta por los gobernadores de los 7 Emiratos, o quienes los sustituyen en su ausencia. Cada Emirato tiene un voto en las deliberaciones. Establece la política general en las cuestiones confiadas a la Federación, y estudia y establece los objetivos e intereses de la misma.

Presidente y Vicepresidente de la Federación: elegidos por el Consejo Supremo entre sus miembros. El Presidente ejerce, en virtud de la Constitución, competencias importantes como la presidencia del Consejo Supremo; firma de leyes, decretos o resoluciones que ratifica y dicta el Consejo; nombramiento del Presidente del Consejo de Ministros y del Vicepresidente y ministros; aceptación de sus dimisiones o su suspensión de funciones a propuesta del Presidente del Consejo de Ministros. El Vicepresidente ejerce todas las atribuciones presidenciales en su ausencia.

Por tradición, no reconocida en la Constitución emiratí, el jeque de Abu Dhabi es el presidente del país, y el jeque de Dubái es el vicepresidente y Primer Ministro.

Así, actualmente, Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, jeque de Abu Dhabi, es el presidente de los Emiratos Árabes Unidos desde 2004; y Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, jeque de Dubái, es el Primer Ministro y vicepresidente desde 2006.

Consejo de ministros: compuesto por el Presidente del Consejo de Ministros, el Vicepresidente y los ministros. Es el órgano ejecutivo de la Federación. Supervisado por el Presidente y Consejo Supremo, su misión es gestionar los asuntos de interior y exterior, que sean de competencia de la Federación en virtud de la Constitución y leyes federales. Posee ciertas prerrogativas como hacer un seguimiento de la aplicación de la política general del Estado Federal en el interior y exterior; proponer proyectos de leyes federales y trasladarlos al Consejo Supremo de la Federación; supervisar la ejecución de las leyes y resoluciones federales, y la aplicación de tratados y convenios internacionales firmados por los Emiratos Árabes Unidos.

Asamblea Federal Nacional: lo que se asemejaría a un Congreso, pero es un órgano únicamente consultivo. Está compuesto por 40 miembros: veinte elegidos por los ciudadanos con derecho a voto, por sufragio censitario, de Emiratos Árabes Unidos a través de elección general, y la otra mitad por los gobernantes de cada Emirato. En diciembre de 2018, el presidente, Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, emitió un decreto que contempla que el cincuenta por ciento de la Asamblea Federal Nacional (o FNC, por sus siglas en inglés) sea ocupado por mujeres, con intención de “empoderar aún más a las mujeres emiratíes y reforzar sus contribuciones al desarrollo del país”. Está distribuido con escaños: Abu Dhabi (8); Dubái (8); Sharjah (6); Ras Al Khaimah (6); Ajmán (4); Umm Al Quwayn (4); y Fujairah (4). A él se elevan los proyectos de ley federales y financieros antes de ser presentados al Presidente de la Federación a fin de que los someta al Consejo Supremo para su ratificación. También, le compete al Gobierno notificar a la Asamblea los pactos y tratados internacionales. La Asamblea estudia y realiza recomendaciones respecto a temas de carácter público.

La Administración de Justicia Federal: el sistema judicial de Emiratos Árabes Unidos está basado en la ley Sharia o ley islámica. El artículo 94 de la Constitución establece que la justicia es la base del Gobierno y reafirma la independencia del poder judicial, estipulando que no existe autoridad ninguna por encima de los jueces, salvo la ley y su propia conciencia en el ejercicio de sus funciones. El sistema de justicia federal se compone de tribunales de primera instancia y tribunales y de apelación (de lo civil, penal, comercial, contencioso-administrativo…)

También, existe un Tribunal Supremo Federal, constituido por un presidente y jueces vocales, con competencias como estudiar la constitucionalidad de las leyes federales y los actos inconstitucionales.

Además, La Administración de Justicia local entenderá de todos aquellos casos judiciales que no competan a la Administración federal. Cuenta con tres niveles: primera instancia, de apelación y casación.

La Constitución prevé la existencia de un Fiscal General, que preside la Fiscalía Pública Federal, encargada de presentar pliegos de cargo en delitos cometidos con arreglo a las disposiciones del Código y Procedimiento penal de la Federación.

Para promover el entendimiento entre administraciones federal y local, desde 2007 se ha constituido un Consejo de Coordinación Judicial, presidido por el Ministro de Justicia y compuesto por presidentes y directores de los órganos judiciales del Estado. [1]

Es importante saber que la Constitución de la Federación posee garantías de refuerzo y protección de los derechos humanos en su capítulo III de las libertades, los derechos y obligaciones públicas, como el principio de igualdad en razón de extracción, lugar de nacimiento, creencia religiosa o posición social, aunque no menciona género, y justicia social (art. 25); la libertad de los ciudadanos (art. 26); la libertad de opinión y garantía de los medios para expresarla (art. 30); libertad de circulación y de residencia (art. 29); libertad religiosa (art.32); derecho a la privacidad (art. 31 y 36); derechos de la familia (art. 15); derecho a previsión social y a la seguridad social (art. 16); derecho a la educación (art. 17); derecho a la atención sanitaria (art. 19); derecho al trabajo (art. 20); derecho de asociación y de constitución de asociaciones (art. 33); derecho a la propiedad (art. 21); y derecho de queja y derecho a litigar ante los tribunales (art. 41).[2]

A simple vista, parece que estos derechos y garantías que recoge la Constitución emiratí de 1971 son semejantes a los que recogería una Constitución europea y occidental normal. Sin embargo, son matizables y no tan efectivos en la práctica. Por un lado, porque la mayoría de ellos incluyen remisiones a la ley concreta y aplicable, diciendo “…en los límites que marca la ley; en conformidad con las disposiciones que marca la ley; o en los casos en que así lo disponga la ley”. De esta forma, el legislador se encargará de que estos derechos sean consecuentes y compatibles con la Ley Sharia o islámica, o con los intereses políticos, en su caso.

Por otro lado, estos derechos y garantías protegen de manera completa a los ciudadanos emiratíes, nacionales. Teniendo en cuenta, que el 80-85% de la población es extranjera, se estaría protegiendo de forma íntegramente constitucional a un 15% de la población total del Estado. Por la Ley Federal Nº28/2005 relativa al estatuto personal, la ley se aplica a todos los ciudadanos del Estado de los Emiratos Árabes Unidos siempre que no existan, para los no musulmanes de entre ellos, disposiciones especiales específicas para su confesión o religión. Igualmente, se aplican sus disposiciones a los no nacionales cuando no estén obligados a cumplir la legislación de su propio país.

Entre salvaguardias jurídicas destacan el Código Penal Federal (Ley Nº3/1987); el Código de Procedimiento Penal (Ley Nº 35/1992); Ley Federal sobre la regulación de las instituciones de reforma penitenciaria (Nº43/1992); Ley Federal sobre regulación de las relaciones laborales (Nº8/1980); Ley Federal relativa a la lucha contra la trata de personas (Nº 51/2006); Ley Federal relativa al estatuto personal (Nº28/2005); Ley Federal relativa a los menores delincuentes y carentes de hogar (Nº9/1976); Ley Federal sobre publicaciones y edición (Nº15/1980); Ley Federal sobre regulación de órganos humanos  (Nº15/1993); Ley Federal relativa a las asociaciones declaradas de interés público (Nº2/2008); Ley Federal sobre previsión social (Nº2/2001); Ley Federal sobre pensiones y seguros sociales (Nº7/1999); Ley Federal de protección y desarrollo del medio ambiente (Nº24/1999); y Ley Federal relativa a los derechos de las personas con necesidades especiales (Nº29/2006).

El servicio militar de 9 meses es obligatorio para los hombres universitarios entre 18 y 30 años, y de dos años para los que no tienen estudios superiores. Para las mujeres es opcional y sometido al acuerdo de su tutor. Aunque el país no es miembro de la OTAN, los Emiratos han decidido unirse a la coalición Iniciativa de Cooperación de Estambul (ICI), y prestar auxilio armamentístico en la Guerra contra el Estado Islámico.

En cuanto a las garantías de los tratados internacionales y la cooperación internacional, los Emiratos Árabes Unidos han realizado un gran esfuerzo por incluir en su Constitución leyes y principios amparados por la Carta de las Naciones Unidas y la Declaración Universal de Derechos Humanos, siendo miembro de la ONU y adhiriéndose a sus tratados: Convención Internacional sobre la Eliminación de todas las Formas de Discriminación Racial (1974), Convención de Derechos del Niño (1997), Convención de las Naciones Unidas contra la Delincuencia Organizada Transnacional (2007), Convención sobre la eliminación de todas las formas de discriminación de la mujer (2004); Convención de las Naciones Unidas contra la Corrupción (2006), entre otros.

También han ratificado el Estatuto de Roma de la Corte Penal Internacional, la Carta Árabe de Derechos Humanos, y convenios de organización del Trabajo. Es miembro de la OMS, OIT, FAO, UNESCO, UNICEF, OMPI, Banco Mundial y FMI. También, están vinculados por acuerdos de cooperación con más de 28 organizaciones internacionales de las Naciones Unidas llevando a cabo tareas de asesoramiento y de carácter técnico y ministerial.

Son miembros de la Liga Árabe y de la Organización de la Conferencia Islámica, reforzando y promoviendo la labor árabe en sus actividades y programas regionales.

La policía emiratí mantiene el orden público y la seguridad del Estado. El Ministerio del Interior pone los derechos humanos al frente de sus prioridades, centrándose en la justicia, igualdad, imparcialidad y protección. Los integrantes del cuerpo policial deben comprometerse a cumplir 33 normas conducta antes de tomar posesión de su puesto. El Ministerio del Interior ofrece dependencias administrativas al ciudadano para supervisar la actividad policial y adoptar las medidas necesarias. Sin embargo, existe una cierta desconfianza de los extranjeros hacia la policía. La mayor parte de denuncias proviene de ciudadanos emiratíes.

El Ministerio del Interior debe proporcionar a las misiones diplomáticas y consulares listas que incluyan datos sobre sus nacionales internados en instituciones penitenciarias.

 

III. SISTEMA SOCIAL

El gobierno emiratí ha promovido sociedades civiles e instituciones nacionales como la asociación de los Emiratos para los Derechos Humanos (en virtud de la Ley Federal Nº 6/1974), la Federación General de las Mujeres, Asociación de Juristas, Asociación de Sociólogos, Asociación de Periodistas, Dirección General de Protección de los Derechos Humanos adscrita a la Jefatura General de la Policía de Dubái, Fundación Benéfica de Dubái para la Atención a la Mujer y el Niño, Comisión Nacional de Lucha contra la Trata de Personas, centro de Apoyo Social de la Dirección General de la Policía de Abu Dhabi, Institución Zayed de Obras Benéficas, Media Luna Roja de los Emiratos, Institución de Desarrollo Familiar, y la Fundación Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum de Obras Benéficas y Humanitarias, o el Fondo para el Matrimonio, entre muchas otras.

Es importante destacar que el desarrollo de la participación política está siguiendo un proceso progresivo. Hasta la fecha, existen unas elecciones completas y generales para designar a la mitad de los miembros de la Asamblea Federal Nacional, con sufragio censitario, para ciudadanos emiratíes y mediante una publicación de listas.

También, la importancia de la mujer en la sociedad emiratí está creciendo gracias a las medidas legislativas y legales adoptadas por el gobierno para potenciar el papel de la mujer, mediante la membresía del Comité de Desarrollo Social del Consejo Económico y Social, que permitan otorgar oportunidades a la mujer que participe de forma activa en el desarrollo sostenible, y la integración de la mujer en sectores gubernamentales y privado-empresarial (siendo mujeres el 22,5% de la Asamblea, 2006; se espera que a partir de 2019 sea el 50% por decreto)[3], y promoviendo el alfabetismo femenino hasta igualarlo con el masculino. Sin embargo, a pesar de ser signatarios de la Convención sobre la eliminación de todas las formas de discriminación contra la mujer, en la práctica sufren discriminaciones en los trámites matrimoniales y de divorcio. Afortunadamente, se abolió la legislación emiratí que preveía el maltrato de las mujeres e hijos menores por parte del marido o padre siempre que la agresión no excediera los límites admitidos por la ley islámica. También, una vez contraído matrimonio, las mujeres deben prestar obediencia a sus maridos y ser autorizadas por ellos para ocupar un puesto laboral. Asimismo, está prohibida, bajo penas de cárcel, la convivencia entre hombres y mujeres no casados, y las relaciones sexuales fuera del matrimonio. La poligamia está presente incluso en la familia real.

Como en el resto de los países árabes, la homosexualidad está considerada un delito grave y castigada con multas, prisión y deportación en el caso de extranjeros, aunque su aplicación es muy escasa.

Los medios de comunicación juegan un rol importante en la sociedad emiratí. Están supervisados por el Consejo Nacional de Medios de Comunicación, que actúa en gran medida como órgano censor. Han alcanzado un alto nivel técnico y profesional en el sector periodístico, acogiendo en la Dubai Media City a más de mil empresas especializadas. Sin embargo, el periodismo está controlado mediante la Ley Federal sobre Prensa y Publicaciones de 1980, y Carta de Honor y la Moral de la Profesión Periodística, que han firmado los jefes de redacción. Por ejemplo, algunas noticias que pueden ser desfavorables para el Islam o el gobierno nunca serían publicadas en los periódicos nacionales, pero sí en los extranjeros (caso de Haya de Jordania). Desde 2007, mediante un decreto del Consejo de Ministros, estaba prohibido el encarcelamiento de periodistas en caso de que cometiesen errores durante el ejercicio de sus funciones profesionales. Sin embargo, dejó de aplicarse con la entrada en vigor de la Ley contra cibercriminalidad adoptada en 2012.

El gobierno se está esforzando en cumplir una mejora en las condiciones de trabajo, pues los Emiratos Árabes Unidos tienen la convicción de que el ser humano tiene derecho a disfrutar de condiciones de vida adecuadas (vivienda, horarios, medios, tribunales laborales, seguro médico, garantías protectoras en conflictos laborales a nivel cooperativo internacional…) Sin embargo, sigue vigente el sistema “Sponsor” o “Kafala”, mediante el cual un empleador ejerce el patrocinio de sus empleados. Así, existen casos en los que el sponsor retiene los pasaportes de sus empleados durante la vigencia del contrato, lo cual es ilegal, pero nunca han sido investigados y castigados por el gobierno (caso del proyecto de construcción de Saadiyat Island), a pesar de ser firmante de convenios sobre Trabajo de la ONU.

El último Informe sobre Desarrollo Humano correspondiente al año 2018, posiciona a los Emiratos Árabes Unidos en el puesto 34º de un total de 189 países. España está en el puesto 26º. El Estado ha asegurado la educación gratuita y de calidad hasta la etapa universitaria de todos los ciudadanos emiratíes, y la integración de las personas discapacitadas. Los centros universitarios y de educación superior han sido positivamente fomentados por el gobierno, como la Universidad de Emiratos Árabes Unidos, la Universidad de Zayed, o la Universidad de Nueva York en Abu Dhabi. La atención sanitaria ha mejorado considerablemente con la construcción de hospitales y clínicas, descendiendo las tasas de mortalidad y aumentando la esperanza de vida, situándose en 77.6 años (2016). El Estado destina dinero de las arcas públicas a la atención social de los sectores de población emiratí más desfavorecidos y a los mayores, viudas, huérfanos o discapacitados. También, ha procurado que los ciudadanos posean una vivienda digna, a través de instancias gubernamentales como el Ministerio de Obras Públicas, el Programa de Vivienda Zayed que ofrece préstamos hipotecarios sin intereses, Organismo de Préstamo Hipotecario de Abu Dhabi, la institución Mohammed bin Rashid para la vivienda que otorga préstamos, u el Organismo de Obras Públicas de Sharjah.

En cuanto a religión, aproximadamente el 75% de la población es de confesión musulmana. El Islam es la confesión oficial de los Emiratos Árabes Unidos. El gobierno sigue una política tolerante hacia otras religiones, y prohíbe que los no musulmanes interfieran en la educación islámica. Está prohibida la evangelización de otras religiones, y la práctica de las mismas debe realizarse en los lugares autorizados para ello.

El 3 de febrero de 2019, como inicio del Año de la Tolerancia, el Papa Francisco fue recibido con los máximos honores en Abu Dhabi por el príncipe heredero Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, el vicepresidente y emir de Dubái Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, y Ahmed al Tayyeb, Gran Imán de la Universidad de Al-Azhar y principal referente teológico islámico, siendo la primera vez que la cabeza de la Iglesia Católica pisaba la Península Arábiga. Del mismo modo, el Papa ofició una misa multitudinaria en Zayed Sport City ante 150.000 personas, diciendo en su homilía: “seamos un oasis de paz”. El acontecimiento fue calificado por Mike Pompeo, secretario de Estado de los Estados Unidos, como “un momento histórico para la libertad religiosa”.

Existen Proyectos para el desarrollo de regiones remotas, que buscan modernizar las infraestructuras y servicios de aquellas zonas del Estado más alejadas de los núcleos de población. También, en virtud de la Ley Federal Nº47/1992, fue creado el Fondo para el Matrimonio, cuyo objetivo es alentar el matrimonio entre ciudadanos y ciudadanas y promover la familia, que según el gobierno es la unidad básica y pilar fundamental de la sociedad, ofreciendo subsidios financieros a aquellos ciudadanos con recursos limitados a fin de ayudarles a afrontar los gastos de boda y contribuir a lograr la estabilidad familiar de la sociedad.

 

IV. ECONOMÍA

Desde 1973, los Emiratos Árabes Unidos han sufrido una enorme transformación y modernización gracias a la explotación del petróleo, que representó el 80% del PIB en aquella época. En los últimos años, con el conocimiento de que en menos de 40 años el petróleo se acabará, el gobierno ha diversificado su economía hacia los servicios financieros, el turismo, comercio, transporte y la infraestructura, haciendo que el petróleo y el gas constituyan solamente un 20% del PIB nacional.

Abu Dhabi cuenta con el 90% de las reservas de petróleo y gas, seguido de Dubái, y en pequeñas cantidades en Sharjah y Ras Al Khaimah. La política petrolera del país se lleva a cabo a través del Consejo Supremo del Petróleo y la Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC). Las principales petroleras extranjeras operantes en el país son BP, Shell, ExxonMobil, Total, Petrofac o Partex, y la española CEPSA, de la cual el fondo soberano emiratí Mubadala es propietaria del 80% de la empresa.

La capacidad prestataria de las sociedades financieras se vio fuertemente afectada de forma negativa durante la crisis económica de 2008. La entrada de grandes capitales privados extranjeros se paralizó, al mismo tiempo que la inversión en los sectores de propiedad y construcción. La caída de los valores de propiedad forzó a restringir la liquidez. En 2009, las empresas locales buscaban acuerdos de moratoria con sus acreedores sobre una deuda de 26 billones de dólares. El gobierno de Abu Dhabi aportó un rescate de 5 billones para tranquilizar a los inversores internacionales.

El turismo y la infraestructura es un éxito para el país, especialmente en Dubái.[4] La construcción de atracciones turísticas de lujo como las Palm Islands y el Burj al-Arab, y el buen clima en la mayor parte del año, ha atraído a occidentales y personas de todo el mundo. Según el gobierno emiratí, la industria turística genera más dinero que el petróleo actualmente. Se están realizando grandes inversiones en energías renovables, sobre todo a través de Masdar, la empresa gubernamental, que tiene el proyecto Masdar City iniciado, la creación de una ciudad alimentada únicamente con energías renovables.

 

V. DINASTÍAS Y FAMILIAS REALES. LA DINASTÍA AL NAHYAN

Los Emiratos Árabes Unidos están formados por siete Emiratos y gobernados por seis familias:

Abu Dhabi: por la familia Al Nahyan (Casa Al Falahi)

Dubái: por la familia Al Maktum (Casa al Falasi)

Sharjah y Ras Al Khaimah: por la familia Al Qassimi

Ajman: por la familia Al Nuaimi

Umm Al Quwain: por la familia Al Mualla

Fujairah: por la familia Al Sharqi

Es importante conocer la terminología utilizada en el árbol genealógico de las familias reales emiratíes: “Sheikh” significa jeque, y un emir es título nobiliario que se les atribuye a los jeques. En la composición de los nombres, en primer lugar, se coloca el nombre propio del descendiente, seguido del infijo “bin” que significa “de”, más el nombre propio de su padre, y el apellido de la familia. El infijo es “bint” para las mujeres.

Por ejemplo: Sheikh Sultan bin Zayed Al Nahyan es el padre de Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.

Es frecuente que se celebren matrimonios entre las familias gobernantes de los distintos Emiratos, entrelazando dinastías, pero siempre prevalecerá el apellido del marido sobre el de la mujer en el nombre de los hijos. Al contrario de las grandes monarquías europeas en las que el reinado se transmite de padres a hijos, en las familias emiratíes el poder se transmite primero entre hermanos, por nombramiento, y como segundo recurso, a los hijos. Estos puestos de poder deben ser ratificados por el Consejo Supremo.

La familia Al Nahyan de Abu Dhabi es una rama de la Casa Al Falahi. Ésta, es una casa real que pertenece a Bani Yas y está relacionada con la Casa Al Falasi a la que pertenece la familia Al Maktoum de Dubái. Se sabe que Bani Yas es una confederación tribal muy antigua de la región de Liwa Oasis. Existen pocos datos históricos sobre su origen exacto. La familia real Al Nahyan es increíblemente grande, ya que cada uno de los hermanos ha tenido varios hijos y con distintas mujeres. Los más importantes y recientes gobernadores de Abu Dhabi serían aquellos que han estado en el poder desde 1971, cuando los Emiratos Árabes Unidos se consolidaron como país, dejando de ser un Estado de la Tregua y protectorado británico. Son:

Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan (1918-2004): fue gobernador de Abu Dhabi desde 1966 hasta su muerte. Colaboró cercanamente con el imperio británico para mantener la integridad del territorio frente a las pretensiones expansivas de Arabia Saudita. Se le considera el Padre de la Nación y fundador de los Emiratos Árabes Unidos, junto a su homólogo Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum de Dubái. Ambos se comprometieron a formar una Federación junto a otros gobernantes una vez se realizase la retirada militar británica. Fue el primer presidente de los Emiratos Árabes Unidos, y fue reelegido cuatro veces: 1976, 1981, 1986 y 1991. Zayed se caracterizó por tener un carácter comprensivo, pacífico y de unión con los emiratos vecinos, caritativo en cuanto a donaciones, relativamente liberal y permisivo con los medios privados. Fue considerado uno de los hombres más ricos del mundo por la revista Forbes, con un patrimonio de veinte mil millones de dólares.

Murió a los 86 años y enterrado en la Gran Mezquita Sheikh Zayed de Abu Dhabi. Le sustituyó en el cargo su hijo primogénito Khalifa como gobernador y ratificado presidente de los Emiratos Árabes Unidos por el Consejo Supremo.

Tuvo seis mujeres: Hassa bint Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Nahyan, Sheikha bint Madhad Al Mashghouni, Fatima bint Mubarak Al Ketbi, Mouza bint Suhail bin Awaidah Al Khaili, Ayesha bint Ali Al Darmaki, Amna bint Salah bin Buduwa Al Darmaki, y Shamsa bint Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Nahyan; y treinta hijos, de los cuales algunos son los siguientes:

Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan (1948-presente): hijo mayor del anterior, cuya madre es Hassa bint Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Nahyan, es el actual gobernador de Abu Dhabi y presidente de los Emiratos Árabes Unidos. Su esposa es Shamsa bint Suhail Al Mazrouei, con la que tiene ocho hijos. También ocupa otros cargos: Supremo Comandante de las Fuerzas Armadas, presidente del Consejo Supremo del Petróleo, y presidente de la autoridad de inversiones de Abu Dhabi. Fue educado en la Real Academia Militar de Sandhurst de Reino Unido. Anteriormente, fue nombrado príncipe heredero de Abu Dhabi; Jefe del Departamento de Defensa de Abu Dhabi, que se convertiría en las Fuerzas Armadas de los Emiratos; Primer ministro, jefe del Gabinete de Abu Dhabi, Ministro de Defensa y Finanzas; segundo Viceprimer Ministro de los Emiratos Árabes Unidos y presidente del Consejo Ejecutivo de Abu Dhabi. El Burj Khalifa de Dubái se llama así por él, ya que ingresó el dinero necesario para concluir su construcción. Intervino militarmente en Libia enviando a la Fuerza Aérea junto con la OTAN, y prometió el apoyo al levantamiento democrático en Bahréin en 2011.

Por una filtración de WikiLeaks, el embajador estadounidense lo califica como “personaje distante y poco carismático”. Ha sido criticado por su carácter derrochador (compra del yate Azzam, escándalo de la construcción del palacio y compra de territorios en las islas Seychelles, los Papeles de Panamá y la revelación de propiedades en Londres y empresas pantalla…)

En 2014, según la versión oficial, Khalifa sufrió un derrame cerebral y fue operado quirúrgicamente. Según el gobierno, se encuentra estable, pero prácticamente ha desaparecido de la imagen pública.

Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan (1961-presente): hermano de Khalifa, pero cuya madre es Fatima bint Mubarak Al Ketbi. Es el príncipe heredero de Abu Dhabi, subcomandante supremo de las Fuerzas Armadas, y encomendado para la ejecución de asuntos presidenciales, recepciones de dignatarios extranjeros y decisiones políticas debido al mal estado de salud del Presidente. También, como Khalifa, fue educado en la Real Academia Militar de Sandhurst. Ha sido Oficial de la Guardia Presidencial y piloto en la Fuerza Aérea. Está casado con Salama bint Hamdan Al Nahyan, y tiene nueve hijos.

Se ha caracterizado por su política exterior activista y en contra del extremismo islamista, y carácter caritativo (colaboración con la Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation para vacunas en Afganistán y Pakistán). Gobiernos internacionales como Francia, Singapur y Estados Unidos han invitado a Mohammed a distintos eventos y diálogos bilaterales. Incluso se ha reunido con el papa Francisco dos veces (Roma, 2016; Abu Dhabi, 2019), promoviendo el Año de la Tolerancia.

En materia económica, es el presidente del fondo soberano Mubadala y Jefe del Consejo de Abu Dhabi para el Desarrollo Económico. Ha aprobado proyectos billonarios de estimulación económica para la modernización del país en el sector energético e infraestructuras.

También, ha promovido el empoderamiento femenino, dando la bienvenida a una delegación de mujeres oficiales del Programa Militar y de Mantenimiento de la Paz para Mujeres Árabes, que se están preparando para las operaciones de Paz de las Naciones Unidas. Ha alentado la presencia de mujeres en los servicios públicos, y se ha comprometido a reunirse regularmente con las representantes femeninas de instituciones del país.

Sultan bin Zayed Al Nahyan (1955-presente): segundo hijo de Zayed. Él tiene seis hijos. Es hijo de Shamsa bint Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Nahyan. Fue educado en la escuela de Millfield y en la academia militar de Sandhurst como sus dos anteriores hermanos. Es el tercer viceprimer ministro de Emiratos Árabes Unidos, miembro del Consejo Supremo del Petróleo y miembro de la Autoridad de Inversiones de Abu Dhabi.

Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan (1963-presente): quinto hijo de Zayed, cuya madre es Fatima bint Mubarak Al Ketbi. Está casado con Shamsa bint Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Nahyan. Fue educado en la Academia militar de Sandhurst. Ocupó el cargo de viceprimer ministro y ministro de Estado para Asuntos Exteriores hasta 2009. Actualmente, es el representante del emir en la región occidental de Abu Dhabi. Es licenciado en Ciencias Políticas y Administración de Empresas por la Universidad de Emiratos Árabes Unidos.

Nahyan bin Mubarak al Nahyan (1951-presente): hijo de Mubarak bin Mohammed Al Nahyan. Es el actual dirigente del Ministerio de la Tolerancia de Emiratos Árabes Unidos desde 2017. De 2016 a 2017, fue ministro de Cultura y Desarrollo del Conocimiento. También, dedicó años de su vida a la creación de centros de educación superior como la Universidad de Emiratos Árabes Unidos (1983-2013), Escuela Superior de Tecnología (1988-2013), y Universidad de Zayed (1998-2013). También, es el presidente de Warid Telecom International, una empresa de Telecomunicaciones, y el presidente del grupo bancario Abu Dhabi, Union National Bank y United Bank Limited, entre otras empresas.

Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan (1972-presente): Noveno hijo de Zayed, cuya madre es Fatima bint Mubarak Al Ketbi. Está casado con Al Yazia bint Saif bin Mohammed Al Nahyan, con la que tiene cinco hijos. Ocupa el cargo de ministro de Asuntos Exteriores y Cooperación Internacional de los Emiratos Árabes Unidos desde 2006. Es licenciado en Ciencias Políticas por la Universidad de Emiratos Árabes Unidos. Durante su mandato, los Emiratos han vivido una gran expansión en sus relaciones diplomáticas con países de América del Sur, Pacífico Sur, África y Asia, y una consolidación con los países occidentales. Es miembro del Consejo de Seguridad Nacional del país, Vicepresidente del Comité Permanente de Fronteras, Presidente del Consejo Nacional de Medios de Comunicación, Presidente de la Junta de Directores de la Fundación de los Emiratos para el Desarrollo de la Juventud, Vicepresidente de la Junta de Directores del Fondo de Abu Dhabi para el Desarrollo y Miembro de la Junta del Colegio de Defensa Nacional. Fue ministro de Información y Cultura de 1997 a 2006, y presidente de Emirates Media Incorporated.

Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan (1970-presente): octavo hijo de Zayed, cuya madre es Fatima bint Mubarak Al Ketbi. Está casado con dos mujeres, Alia bint Mohammed bin Butti Al Hamed, y Manal bint Mohammed Al Maktoum, con las que tiene seis hijos en total. Ocupa los cargos de viceprimer ministro y Ministro de Asuntos Presidenciales de Emiratos Árabes Unidos desde 2009. Es presidente del Consejo Ministerial de Servicios, de la Autoridad de Inversiones de los Emiratos y de la Autoridad de Carreras de los Emiratos. Es miembro del Consejo Supremo del Petróleo y del Consejo de Inversiones de Abu Dhabi. Se educó en Santa Barbara Community College de Estados Unidos, y se licenció en Asuntos Internacionales por la Universidad de los Emiratos Árabes Unidos. Preside el Centro Nacional de Documentación e Investigación y el Fondo de Abu Dhabi para el Desarrollo. Fue presidente del First Gulf Bank hasta 2006.

Tiene una visión empresarial desarrollada. Es el propietario del equipo de fútbol inglés Manchester City, y co-propietario del New York City de la MLS, liga de fútbol profesional estadounidense. Es miembro de la junta directiva de la Autoridad de Inversiones de Abu Dhabi, tiene una participación del 32% en Virgin Galactic, una participación del 9’1% en Daimler, y es propietario de Abu Dhabi Media Investment Corporation, por la cual es propietario del periódico inglés The National.

Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan (1968-presente): decimosegundo hijo de Zayed, cuya madre es Mouza bint Suhail Al Khaili. ocupa el cargo de viceprimer ministro desde 2009, y Ministro del Interior desde 2004. Su función es velar por la protección interior y seguridad nacional de los Emiratos Árabes Unidos. Es graduado en Ciencias Políticas por la Universidad de Emiratos Árabes Unidos. Fue Director General de la policía de Abu Dhabi en 1995, y subsecretario del Ministerio del Interior en 1997, hasta su nombramiento como ministro.

Hazza bin Zayed Al Nahyan (1965-presente): quinto hijo de Zayed, cuya madre es Fatima bint Mubarak Al Ketbi. Está casado con Mozah bint Mohammed bin Butti Al Hamed, con la que tiene cinco hijos. Ocupa el puesto de Ministro de la Seguridad Nacional de los Emiratos Árabes Unidos, Vicepresidente del Consejo Ejecutivo del Emirato de Abu Dhabi y Presidente de la Autoridad de Identidad de los Emiratos.

Nasser bin Zayed Al Nahyan (1967-2008): hijo de Zayed, cuya madre es Amna bint Salah Al Badi. Fue presidente del Departamento de Planificación y Economía de Abu Dhabi, y fue oficial de la seguridad real. Según la versión oficial, murió a los 41 años cuando el helicóptero en el que viajaba con sus amigos se estrelló en las costas de Abu Dhabi. Fue enterrado en la mezquita Sheikh Sultan bin Zayed, y se declararon tres días de luto en todos los Emiratos Árabes Unidos.

Issa bin Zayed Al Nahyan (1970-presente): hijo de Zayed, cuya madre es Amna bint Salah Al Badi. Es un prestigioso promotor inmobiliario de la ciudad de Dubái, pero no ocupa ningún cargo político en el gobierno de Emiratos. Protagonizó un caso en el que, supuestamente, en un vídeo filtrado, él mismo torturaba a dos palestinos que eran sus socios comerciales. El juzgado emiratí declaró en sentencia firme que Issa era inocente por ser víctima de una conspiración y condenó a los palestinos a cinco años de privación de libertad por consumo de drogas, grabación, publicación y chantaje. Observadores internacionales criticaron duramente el sistema judicial emiratí y pidieron una revisión del código penal del país.

Desde mi punto de vista, y con la experiencia de haber vivido en el país, los Emiratos Árabes Unidos son un país muy desconocido para la juventud española y que tiene unas oportunidades profesionales increíbles por la demanda de trabajo extranjera, una calidad de vida muy alta a un precio asequible, pues los sueldos son bastante altos, y una Administración e instituciones fuertes y modernizadas. El choque cultural no es muy grande, pues el Estado se asegura de evadir situaciones de discriminación, a diferencia de otros países árabes. Puedo decir con total convicción que la tolerancia cultural es real. Sin embargo, los extranjeros deben tener en cuenta que no es un país occidental, y que se recomienda respetar las costumbres de la nación respecto a la vestimenta, lugares sacros y actuaciones en público, y conocer la Ley básica emiratí.

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