Dr Anwar Gargash giving the keynote speech at the Fifth Abu Dhabi Strategic Debate at the Emirates Palace. Image Credit: Ahmed Kutty/Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: The UAE has called for a new arrangement to address all regional concerns not just Iran’s nuclear issue, a regional conference heard yesterday.

“We need new approach to tackle the issue because since 1979, Iran has been a primary source of sectarianism in the region, expanding its development and proliferation of ballistic missiles,” Dr Anwar Mohammad Gargash told the 5th edition of the Abu Dhabi Strategic Debate organised by the Emirates Policy Centre, a leading Abu Dhabi-based think tank.

Dr Gargash said that is why the UAE is supportive of the Trump administration’s policy of containment and sanctions. “That’s why we need a common approach by all responsible nations and urge our friends in Europe to recognise the obvious dangers and join us in standing up to Iran’s menacing activities,” he said.

Dr Gargash explained there must be a new arrangement with Iran that addresses these concerns, not just the nuclear issue. And there need to be appropriate regional representation in any set negotiations.

It is critical that Saudi Arabia and Egypt play a leading role in helping to steer the region in a more positive direction. Their stability is so important for the future of the whole region.”

- Dr Anwar Gargash, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs

“This would be the first step towards welcoming Iran as a true partner of the region,” Dr Gargash said.

He spoke about critical issues facing the region, including Syria, Yemen and Palestine.

“Changes in our region are taking place in a rapid and systematic global transformation,” he said. “Today, the international order is again shifting. New dangers, terrorism, Weapons of Mass Destruction and climate change have appeared, and new centres of strategic and economic powers, such as China, India and the Arab Gulf, are developing.”

He said building a strong moderate Arab centre to address common regional security challenges is already underway, he added. “For this Arab-led approach to be successful, we must continue to develop our own capabilities,” he explained. “It is critical that Saudi Arabia and Egypt play a leading role in helping to steer the region in a more positive direction. Their stability is so important for the future of the whole region, and it is also why we welcome the proposal for a Middle East Strategic Alliance — it will allow countries with moderate agendas to work closely with the United States.”

He explained that the GCC would be an important part of this alliance. “For the GCC to return to business as usual, it is essential that all members embrace a common doctrine of non-interference in the internal affairs of others,” he added.

The fifth Abu Dhabi Strategic Debate kicked off in the capital on Sunday with keynote speeches by Dr. Ebtesam Al Ketbi, President of Emirates Policy Centre.

In the opening address, Dr. Al Ketbi said the Abu Dhabi Strategic Debate is taking a leap to a new era of think tank’s work in the region to facilitate the work of decision-makers in a less vague and complicated environment. “To this end, ADSD seeks to develop and diversify methodologies of analysing key strategic security, defence, political, economic, social and cultural issues; disentangle their interaction and entanglement; grasp their dynamics and causes and predict their trajectories, impacts and outcomes,” she said.

She noted that EPC seeks to present an innovative model to understand the international and regional geostrategic and geopolitical landscape, present a new approach to the mechanisms of designing, implementing and assessing public policies in the security and defence fields as well as confronting social, political and economic dilemmas, such as identity, integration, social trust and development.

Participants tackled a number of pressing international issues during the Debate’s first day, including Power Building: UAE as a Model and the Temptation of Power: US Policies.

Ambitions of Power: Russian Policies were also discussed along with Limits of Power: China and Geography Constraints, and the Search for Power: Europe and the Longing for a Role.

As speakers concluded the first day sessions, they discussed The Rising Power: India’s New Role and Potential Power: Africa.

Observer Research Foundation in India, and H.E. Victor Borges, Independent Consultant and Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Cape Verde.

Organised by Emirates Policy Centre, ADSD runs in Abu Dhabi from November 11 to November 12 at the Emirates Palace.