and that’s all from me for today. i’ve really appreciated the opportunity to liveblog sessions of the wef regional summit! it’s been very exciting…
thanks and i hope you’ve enjoyed!
while at times kerry’s address felt like a ‘i know we’re the underdogs’ locker room motivational speech, it was laced with some compelling, tangible emphasis on private sector improvements that can credibly be driven… and which make today’s proposal very interesting. and kerry’s acknowledgments about how intractable the conflict is were well-received (“middle east peace famously reputed to be diplomatic quicksand.”)
some very inspiring words and candid accounts of the israel-palestine dynamic as it stands today– from all three of today’s major speakers. it was really wonderful to see them all on the same stage, and engaging in a dialogue together.
kerry: “think of all that can change. that’s what really should motivate us…”
and from that launching point, kerry is discussing a world post-israel/palestine peace. i don’t think anyone would deny it’s a grand vision, but kerry should perhaps heed his own advice from earlier in his speech: ‘all eyes must be on the road from here to ahead.’ because it’s a tough road indeed.
kerry: ‘middle east peace famously reputed to be diplomatic quicksand.’
kerry speaking of how the united arab emirates trumps the other regional players in terms of tourist arrivals… perhaps this says less about the inefficiencies/flaws in other countries’ strategies as it speaks to the uae’s success. plus, it is not as surprising in the context of the following: the united arab emirates is a country where the foreign population makes up 90% of the total.
kerry has touched on egyptian tourism.
international tourist arrivals to egypt:
kerry very much striving to ground his speech in the credible, “shovel ready” facets of the initiative we’re discussing today. certainly a winning strategy amidst criticism that such speeches may just be rhetoric. kerry: “is this a fantasy? i don’t think so. because there are already great examples of investment and entrepreneurship that are working in the west bank.”
kerry: “goals that are more transformative than incremental.”
kerry: “the burden doesn’t just lie within palaces and parliaments…. a huge role for business…. the private sector can promote change.”
“countries like libya, egypt, and tunisia…need to aggressively reemerge into the global economic community.” these north african states are increasingly being propped up by an unlikely benefactor– qatar.
qatar’s desire to ignore traditional powers in the region and to pursue a soft diplomacy approach in the wake of the arab spring, as well as its longtime ties to pro-muslim brotherhood figures, have made it easier to economically assist the struggling north african region. and most critically, they have the cash to spend–with few direct economic and political strings–at a time when few others (even the imf) are prepared to make strong commitments. all of which is turning qatar from a marginal gas state to one of the geopolitical powerhouses in the region. that’s most clear in egypt–under hosni mubarak, egypt’s relations with qatar experienced decades of acrimony; today doha has become the new egyptian muslim brotherhood-led government’s closest ally. that’s nearly as true in tunisia. across north africa, qatar’s investments are less about earning a good return, then expanding and developing its relations with prospective allies beyond the gulf cooperation council…
kerry: “if we make the wrong choices, or no choices at all…”
very important to acknowledge the impact that abstention can have in geopolitics.
kerry: “we are staring down a dangerous path, with a capacity to harden divisions, increase instability…. as most here are very aware, this will be a path that will be haunted by violent extremists…”
john kerry calling the ‘arab spring’ the ‘arab awakening’ is perhaps in line with the lofty goals/visions that we’ve seen from israel/palestine’s leaders today. but it is a depiction of a perceived future trajectory. today, even ‘the arab spring’ feels like too rosy of a label– i would opt for ‘arab summer’– growing tensions, and very much in flux.
kerry is referring to the ‘arab spring’ repeatedly as the ‘arab awakening’
on jordan– more than three of them could fit into the state where john kerry was born… (colorado)
and a jordanian bright spot and blind spot:
bright: jordan is 79% urbanized.
grim: in jordan, the labor participation rate for women ages 15+ (2011) is just 16% (compared to 51% worldwide).
kerry: ‘it’s a great pleasure to be in this remarkable country of jordan.’
john kerry: “i have an agreement up here that you can both come up and sign if you want. [applause]. we’ll get there…”
so a strong speech from abbas, but the aforementioned constituency/legitimacy issues regarding hamas must be acknowledged.
similar appraisal for peres’ speech– lofty, emotional, and hopeful– but we cannot ignore the political architecture back in israel: netanyahu presides over a government that has been shifting decidedly to the right for more than a decade, with a growing marginalization of left-wing parties, and a public disenchantment with the peace process. the center-right leadership is increasingly uncompromising.
peres to abbas: “i didn’t answer your arguments and i’ll tell you why. when we started with the plo, the situation was worse. i listened to both sides and felt nothing can happen. so all of these differences, they are moving. let’s sit together. you’d be surprised how much can be achieved in open and direct and organized meetings. we have a joint point that all of us have to see together, and change it into a peace.”
peres to kerry: “i know that all sides can count on your determination.”
undoubtedly so- – kerry is highly capable, and the middle east is an area of particular focus/expertise for him. but if kerry’s determination was actually a key determinant in israel-palestine peace negotiations, i’d be a lot more optimistic. the key drivers here do not come from the united states.
“we must depart from skepticism.” “war is not inevitable–peace is inevitable.”
peres: “president abbas– you are our partner and we are yours.”
“we can and should make the breakthrough.”
“history will judge us not by process but by outcomes.”
shimon peres has begun speaking
there is an unspoken wrinkle here that makes abbas’ calls for peace more difficult. his fatah party isn’t viewed as the sole credible leadership in palestine by many palestinians. hamas’ popularity is growing, particularly among younger palestinians– a demographic momentum that will drive the two sides farther apart over time. abbas/fatah cannot speak for palestine entire at a summit such as this– and hamas has every incentive to undermine any possible deal that would come out of a diplomatic process from which it’s excluded.
mahmoud abbas has begun speaking after a reading of the ‘breaking the impasse’ declaration.
“the status quo is unsustainable and dangerous.”
i believe the status quo is one of those two things. it seems to find sustenance through every iteration of the israel-palestine conflict.
“we are deeply concerned that the lack of efforts on the political front will reinforce the status quo.”
unfortunately, i remain deeply convinced that that will remain the case for the foreseeable future.
a lot of discussion of the long, painful history of the israel-palestine conflict. here are some maps that show changes over time:
“this is not a normal day in the israel-palestine conflict”
“jordan….the most hospitable of countries”
nearly 500,000 syrians certainly appreciate jordan’s hospitality.
vardi’s final word: “PEACE!” a decidedly hip-hop flourish to cap his warm and well-received words…
israeli tech entrepreneur yossi vardi speaking out on a rosier future… “a long road” away.
“after a year of intensive work, we are presenting to you a community of over 300 people, israelis, palestinians, and international leaders… this can be done… the civil community can contribute.”
klaus schwab opening our final panel– “devoted mainly to the israeli-palestinian conflict.”
“a call for action…prepared over the last 15 months.”
looks like we are underway. the hall applauding our speakers as they approach the stage.
the wef has been driving some impressive headlines here in jordan. here is israel/palestine business leaders pushing for peace:
kerry et al have kept us waiting 30+ minutes. perhaps it’s karmic retribution for vladimir putin leaving kerry waiting for 3 hours earlier this month in moscow?
announced ten minutes until panel begins.
Overheard at #WEF: “Is the delay a good sign or a bad sign…” as we wait for Kerry, Abbas, Abdullah and Peres for “Big” Announcement
— Ahmed Shihab-Eldin (@ASE) May 26, 2013
here is an interesting statistical index on all things israel/palestine from the economist (a few months stale, but still worth a look while we wait)– http://www.economist.com/blogs/pomegranate/2012/11/israel-and-palestinians
as we’re waiting for the panel to kick off, here is a fascinating resource from the wef– a detailed mena competitiveness report: http://www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_AWCR_Report_2013.pdf
definitely worth a look.
i love the paradox of this wef summit: “live from dead sea, jordan.”
the panel is starting up shortly. very much looking forward to hearing from john kerry. it will be interesting to see which intractable crisis he will focus on most– israel/palestine or syria. i suspect the former, even though the latter is the more alarmingly urgent issue from a geopolitical and humanitarian perspective.
qatar was hardly mentioned in the syria summit that i liveblogged earlier. given its meager population– just under 2m people– perhaps it’s understandable that it doesn’t receive outsized attention… after all, there are at least 50 chinese cities with larger populations than the entire country. but the rising role of qatar as a regional powerbroker is extremely interesting to me. the gulf cooperation council is expanding, but qatar is much more willing to go it alone, and they’ve got the cash to back it up.
qatar’s al jazeera broadcasting station is also used as a foreign policy instrument throughout the region.
top 5 mena markets by al jazeera penetration:
we’ve seen some fascinating panels here today. a talk this morning about the youth bulge in the region was particularly interesting.
take, for example, jordan, our host country where 37% of the population is under 15 years of age.
an extreme example is iraq, which suffers even more acutely from demographic challenges than many other countries in the region. 43% of the population is under the age of 15… only 3% is over 65 years of age.
there are a few examples, though, of countries at the polar end of the spectrum. while 26% of the world’s population is under 15 years old, the u.a.e. clocks in at 17%. qatar has just 14% of citizens under the age of 15.
— World Economic Forum (@wef) May 26, 2013
here is the wef’s shout out for my last liveblog session, earlier this morning, on syria:
— World Economic Forum (@wef) May 26, 2013
you can read it here:
the ‘breaking the impasse’ panel starting up shortly– very much looking forward to liveblogging it.