Bahrain 'must take global centre stage'
Manama, December 4, 2010
Bahrain and other Gulf countries were urged to step up to the challenges of the 21st century and take their place at the forefront of world affairs by US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton at a global security conference in Bahrain.
The Manama Dialogue, which opened last night (December 3) at the Ritz-Carlton Bahrain Hotel and Spa and will run until December 5.
Clinton said it was time GCC states beefed up their military co-operation to better prepare them for today's threats.
'The threat of violent and extremist groups both within countries and across borders and the threat of states that pursue destabilising actions against their neighbours are among the immediate security challenges facing the region,' Clinton said during her first visit to Bahrain.
'Like other modern threats, these problems call for shared solutions,' she said.
Delivering a special address at a dinner hosted by His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander, she said the US hoped to strengthen its security dialogue with Gulf countries.
'The dialogue is designed to bolster the capabilities of GCC partners to deter and defend against conventional and unconventional threats and improve interoperability with the US and with each other. We all know that efforts to deepen co-operation, co-ordination and transparency among this region's militaries would yield broad benefits that extend to the whole range of modern threats.
'It would become easier to manage incidents at sea, the likelihood of dangerous errors and undue escalations would decrease, the success of joint military operations would rise. In sum, co-operation among countries in the region would not simply be helpful, but vital, for no one country alone can combat security challenges of the 21st century.'
Describing how the US had 'invested blood and treasure' to protect its interests in the region, she reiterated that it would continue to stand by its allies against a backdrop of Middle East instability.
However, she said the key issues currently being faced here were 'some of the defining issues of the 21st century'. 'Conflicts that arise here echo across the world,' she told delegates. Many of our nations are targeted by the same networks of extremists. When they make headway here, they are emboldened elsewhere. The economic significance of the Gulf means that when your security is threatened, energy supplies, global commerce and trade flows can be disrupted.
'Part of being committed to the security of this region means identifying new threats and anticipating future ones, assessing how our defence co-operation can be improved and addressing the root causes of instability - the political, economic and social conditions that give rise to unrest and mistrust.'
Clinton's speech focused on five key principles to security in the Middle East: respect for the national sovereignty of countries in the region, security partnerships, freedom of ships to navigate Gulf waters, respect for the basic rights of all people living in each country and the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons. Before closing she spoke directly to delegates from Iran, saying President Barack Obama's offer of talks was still on the table.
'Nearly two years ago President Obama extended your government a sincere offer of dialogue. We are still committed to this offer - but the position of the international community is clear. You have a right to a peaceful nuclear programme, but with that right comes a responsibility that you follow the treaty you signed and fully address the world's concerns about your nuclear activities.
'We urge you to make that choice for your people, your interests and our share of security. We urge you to restore the confidence of the international community and live up to your obligations. Unfortunately, the most recent IAEA report reflected once again that Iran has chosen a different path - one that leads to even greater international concern, isolation and pressure.
'We continue to make this offer of engagement with respect for your sovereignty and with regard for your interests, but also with an iron clad commitment to defending global security and the world's interests in a peaceful and prosperous Gulf region.' – TradeArabia News Service