Davos: Distinct Visions to Address Middle East Crisis
The Middle East and North Africa session within the framework of the World Economic Forum (WEF) held in Davos witnessed distinct views on ways to address the security, economic, and political challenges facing countries of the Middle East.
A number of international top officials participated in the session including: Jordanian Prime Minister Omar al-Razzaz, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, Omani Foreign Minister Yousuf Bin Alawi Bin Abdullah, and President of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars Jane Harman.
The session was moderated by the President of the World Economic Forum Borge Brende, and discussed the Turkish presence in Libya and the Jordanian political model.
FM Cavusoglu asserted the attendees that the Turkish soldiers in Libya are only for training purposes, adding that Turkey is doing its efforts to achieve a permanent truce in Libya to reach a comprehensive transitional administration.
Russia is a party in Libya and needs to cooperate with all allies to end this conflict, said Cavusoglu adding that Ankara supports Sarraj, while Moscow is backing Haftar.
The Minister asserted that his country is against sanctions on Iran and refuses turning Iraq into a battlefield.
The Turkish minister said that Turkey is open to dialogue with Russia despite differences, adding that after the Aleppo incident, both states decided to work together to end the suffering of the Syrian people.
In turn, PM Razzaz said that despite the challenges imposed by regional crises, Jordan has set an example of economic and political resilience throughout the previous decades, indicating that the Kingdom has improved its institutional capacities.
Jordan suffers from a high rate of unemployment, explained Razzaz, pointing out that young people are looking for jobs and the government is trying to address their needs.
Razzaz also highlighted Jordan’s humanitarian role in addressing the Syrian refugee crisis, asserting that “not a single hate crime against Syrian refugees has been reported.”
“At the same time, we have great challenges. Refugees make up 20 percent of the Kingdom's population”, he added.
Razzaz informed the attendees that hosting Syrian refugees costs his country about $2.4 billion a year, while the received aid covers only 42 percent of the incurred burden, urging the international community to shoulder its responsibilities in addressing the refugee crisis and supporting host countries.
Despite the difficulties and challenges, Jordan managed to record progress in a number of indicators, notably its volume of exports which increased 9 percent and tourism figures 10 percent in 2019, Razzaz said.
He added that Jordan advanced 23 ranks in the World Bank's Doing Business 2020 report, adding that 27 of the region's 100 start-ups are Jordanian companies, citing a report issued last year by the WEF.
Discussing political crisis in the region, Razzaz said that the recent developments had negative impact and does not help in maintaining peace and prosperity. He cautioned that the international community has ignored the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and focused on secondary wars at its expense, warning that “disregarding Palestinians' aspirations will leave room for extremist groups.”
Regarding war on terrorism, he warned that to ensure that ISIS doesn’t rise again, the international community should acknowledge that “winning a single battle does not mean the elimination of terrorism.”
“When states' sovereignty and borders are not respected and when one party is supported at the expense of another, problems and challenges arise,” Razzaz concluded.
In this context, the Omani FM said the parties involved in regional crises are not concerned with resolving them, but rather managing them.
“Should we continue on this path or ask ourselves what we want the Middle East to look like in 50 or 60 years? We don’t want to always look at the past and blame the past, we need to look to the future but we don’t know [what it should look like].”