Dr. Riyadh Al-Masoudi – Former Member of the Iraq Parliament
In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
Praise be to Allah, Lord of the Worlds
It is Prof. Riyadh Al-Masoudi, a university professor from the Republic of Iraq. Today, I am honored to present my speech at the Fourth International Conference on “The Future of Peace and Human Rights in West Asia” (2023). A conference held in Iran by the “Foundation of Dialogue and Solidarity of the United Nations”. The third axis, which is related to “peace and development”, has been selected. I will speak about a very important matter: the “security challenges the development horizons are faced with in the Middle East”.
Everyone knows that the geographical factor is a controlling factor in all sectors and in the first place, the development sector. When we know that natural geographical variables play a decisive role in many important matters, we should remind that the whole Middle East region is an important geographical region, since it is located in the middle of large oceans, which are the Indian and Atlantic oceans, besides other bodies of water which are smaller than oceans, which are the Mediterranean and Black seas and the Persian Gulf. As a result, these bodies of water share importance with the countries in the Middle East. In addition, a truth should be explained and that is, this region has moderate weather most days of the year, and subsequently, its waters are “warm”. The low number of storms and freezing in the bodies of water adjacent to this region allows for navigation all year round. Therefore, its ports and wharves, and the cities adjacent to them, are prosperous and working all year round. Another aspect is that there are few oil and gas producing countries, fewer than twelve countries, in the Middle East which is itself a great source of investment in the energy sector. As a result, this region becomes especially important. Moreover, another truth should be noted and that is, the civilization and historical aspect of these countries that adds to their importance. In addition to these, it is the religious dimension and religious identity of Islam that dominates most of these countries and their residents.
To further elaborate, we should remind some truths. The incidents that happened in the Arabic countries after 2011 (Arab Spring), were definitely great and made actual challenges for the people in these countries, especially knowing that it was initiated in Tunisia and Egypt, and we all know the importance of these two countries, and it spread from these countries to other Arab countries, if I put it correctly, which include Syria, Libya, Yemen, and also what that occurred in Iraq. There are still efforts to continue these big challenges in these countries. Thus, it can be said that these incidents have had great and dangerous effects on societies, and economic and service sectors. Subsequently, a dangerous decline in investment has occurred and we all know that investment attracts a higher share of capital and creates more job opportunities, especially for the youth (15-45 age group). In addition, an optimal investment is made in existing natural and human resources. As a result, these incidents shut these sectors down in various forms and led to capital flight and a failure to attract more investments.
It also happened to the investment in the oil and gas sector, however, I should clearly state that such investments do not bring higher resources for these countries, since there is a truth on which we should focus, and highlight it, and that is, the higher the oil prices and the oil revenues from the sale and export of oil and gas, without other sectors such as agriculture, industry, tourism, services, and commerce progressing proportionally, more goods are imported and spent as consumption aspect, and we know that the money spent on daily needs such as food, and the money spent to buy cars, appliances, clothes, etc. will end in no benefits. Such properties are “burnt properties”. Therefore, these countries suffer a true weakness in both branches of the development sector which are spatial and sectoral development. Therefore, the capital circulation in these countries is very weak and creates more unemployment in various forms. Besides, these countries are really unable to develop the assets obtained from oil and gas, and some raw material export.
Therefore, it created some paradox among the people of these countries in terms of the lack of a connection between the people at the bottom of society (the public) and the ruling governments and increased the gap between the governments and the nations. Due to this fact, there is more than 90-95% public dissatisfaction with the governments in these countries. There are 25 to 30 countries in the Middle East (from Morocco on the west to Central Asian countries such as Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Afghanistan on the east). This geographical area is clearly faced with great and dangerous economic and social challenges whose main aspect is the economic challenge and the government’s inability in creating true developmental changes that make these nations capable of the use of existing natural and human resources. Therefore, actual incompatibilities between resources and economic levels can be seen, and it is very painful to see that the low economic and welfare levels in these countries despite this volume of resources, while in other countries, let’s say the Netherlands, some Scandinavian countries, Singapore, Malaysia, or South Korea, despite the shortage of resources, have a high economic, educational, and health level.
Therefore, the realization of welfare should be initiated with recognition of the volume of these resources and continued with logical and correct management of them so that we can move towards the establishment of peace. In other words, there is an issue, and that is whether peace is prioritized or development. Or can development be prioritized over peace and vice versa? It is an issue that should be highlighted. In this regard, we can say that these resources which are actually granted to these countries by the Almighty God, are not exclusive to the governments, but they are natural and human resources that can be accessed by the nations, and these authorities (governments) are the outcome of public movements and the result of people’s desire for their rulers and the type of these governments. In other words, it is wrong to determine the type of government in any country without a true election and referendum about the nature of the ruling system. Thus, there is a mutual relationship between the type of the government and realization of true peace and the developmental and economic activities in each country.
Therefore, at the end of this speech, it should be noted that the realization of optimal investment of resources is the mutual relationship between creating the true foundations of peace based on a true relationship between the citizen and the government and the management of resources by the government to serve the citizen so that we can conclude the fact that peaceful coexistence is the true guarantee for the optimal investment of resources because it has been observed that many governments have hoarded these resources to increase their power and inflict cruelty on nations and use coercive force against them instead of using these resources for the economic, social, and political aspects to realize the principle of equilibrium between the rights and duties and optimally invest these resources. Therefore, there are abundant natural and human resources in the Middle Eastern countries, although due to the lack of optimal investment in these resources and the inability of these governments in creating a balance between these resources and the nations’ demands, we see that they are wasted almost every day, and these nations do not enjoy these resources due to the political and security challenges.
In the end, I want to show my highest gratitude to this respected NGO, the “Foundation for Dialogue and Solidarity of the United Nations”, and thank them for allowing me to present my speech.
May the blessing of God be with you.