Foreign Minister participates in Manama Dialogue third plenary session

Minister of Foreign Affairs, HE. Dr. Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani, participated in the third plenary session, alongside the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates of Jordan, HE. Ayman Safadi and the Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Iraq, HE. Dr. Fuad Hussein. The session, at the 17th Manama Dialogue, entitled "Diplomacy and Deterrence", was organized by the International Institute for Strategic Studies and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.


The Minister discussed in his speech the issues of particular relevance to the Gulf and Middle East as well as to international peace and security.


He highlighted that in international relations, “deterrence” can be defined as seeking to influence the behavior of an actor to deter a particular course of action with the prospect of sanctions or other negative consequences, adding that while traditionally, we tend to view “deterrence” in a slightly old-fashioned, “Cold War” manner, as a state or group of states seeking to affect the behavior of another state via the explicit or implied threat of force or sanctions.


The Minister also affirmed that today we need to take a more comprehensive view, one which includes deterrence in all its forms, and which can let us see more clearly how it can be tied to a broad definition of modern diplomacy.


He further clarified that deterrence no longer applies to the behavior only of nation states, as the world faces challenges from a host of both state and non-state actors, including terrorist organizations, militias, proxy groups, and many others. He added that what might be effective as deterrence against a nation state may not be relevant in the case of non-state actors.


He also stressed the need to move beyond seeing deterrence through the lens of military action or sanctions, and what might  be called “hard power” deterrence, and that in the post-COVID 19 era today, we need to look at deterrence as broader range of potential outcomes that can be leveraged to influence the behavior of potential adversaries, suggesting that  “hard power” deterrence can be complemented by, for example, cyber, economic, and social deterrence.


The Minister affirmed the need to let pressure from within have an effect on an adversary’s behavior, and to let the adversary’s population and supporters see the consequences of the problematic behaviour, both in terms of direct negative results like sanctions, travel restrictions and the like, but also in terms of missed positive opportunities.


He added that this is so as an adversary finds itself excluded from networks of peace, prosperity, commerce and cooperation until such time as it modifies its behavior, and as it sees others move ahead to a more positive future, so it will come under pressure from within to change its ways.


The Minister also exemplified that in today’s post-COVID 19 era, nations want resilience, while their peoples seek hope, safety and positivity.  He added that thanks to advances in data analysis and tools like social media sentiment analysis, we have a near real-time ability not only to measure and track the sentiment of our own people towards national development policies but also how our adversary, its people and supporters are responding to “soft power” deterrence efforts, to see how these efforts are working.


The Minister noted that diplomacy has a key role to play in effective deterrence, where diplomacy is essential in ensuring that our approach, whether “hard power” or “soft power”, meets the “four C’s” of effective deterrence, namely: credibility, calibration, coordination and consistency.


He affirmed that diplomacy is a vital tool of effective both active and passive deterrence, noting that it is private diplomacy which coordinates like-minded states to develop and enforce effective deterrence frameworks; public diplomacy which communicates deterrence clearly, consistently and credibly to the other party; and digital diplomacy which reaches out directly to the other party’s supporters and people, and assesses their response to our efforts.


The Minister also called for, in the post-COVID 19 era, to ensure being creative in using diplomacy and data analysis in our approach towards deterrence and its implementation, towards working on an outcome for the Middle East, namely a region that is safe, secure and prosperous for all its peoples, an interconnected region resting on the two pillars of coexistence and interdependence.




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