On July, 27, a symposium on the crisis of the Persian Gulf, its stakes and consequences on liberties was organized by the BDMTV television channel and the Geopolitical Club in the French Senate, in the presence of journalists and specialists. Former UN Under-Secretary-General Lansana Kouyate was present for the occasion. Here is the report.
On June 5, 2017, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain broke off diplomatic relations with Qatar. By mutual agreement it was decided to close their airspace, their land and sea borders.
This break with the State of Qatar, a small but very rich oil and gas monarchy, was justified by its support for terrorism (al-Qaida, EI, the Muslim brothers), pursuant to the coalition.
An ultimatum and thirteen conditions were sent to Qatar. Those conditions, which included the closure of the Al Jazeera TV channel and the end of relations with Iran, were deemed unacceptable by the UN on the basis that they undermined the freedom of expression.
This is an unprecedented crisis whose multiple stakes upset the chessboard of geopolitical and diplomatic strategies.
It is in this tense context that BDMTV and the Geopolitical Club decided to organize a conference in the Senate to discuss the issues and consequences of this crisis on liberties. This evening of reflection gathered for the occasion elected officials, public and private decision-makers, journalists, as well as specialists from the Middle East.
All the hot topics of this news were addressed in a calm and constructive atmosphere, each of the participants being animated with the same ethic of responsibility. The success of this conference shows de facto that the best of the mediators is none other than dialogue in the respect of key values.
Conduct of the conference :
In front of a full house, 8 speakers took part in 2 round tables of half an hour each. Everyone had a speaking time of 7 minutes before each session of questions / answers of 15 minutes. Ibrahim Sorel Keita, the president of BDMTV animated these debates which were preceded by the reading of a text by Thierry Paul Valette, author and founder of the National Equality movement.
FIRST ROUND TABLE :
THE SITUATION’S GEOPOLITICAL DEVELOPMENT AND THE CRISIS’ EXIT
Composed of Loic Tribot La SPIERE (General Delegate of the CEPS, Center for Studies and Strategic Foresight), Anne GIUDICELLI (Director of the agency « Terrorisc »), Emmanuel DUPUY (President of the IPSE, Institute of Foresight and Security in Europe) and Nabil ENNASRI (Director of the Qatar Observatory).
SECOND ROUND TABLE :
THE ISSUE OF FREEDOMS AND THE REFUSAL OF CENSORSHIP
Around Clarence RODRIGUEZ (reporter and former correspondent of Radio France in Saudi Arabia), Malik BOUMEDIENE (professor of international and humanitarian law at the University of Toulouse and Naplouse), Karim BAILA (reporter and author) and Fatiha MLATI (Director of the integration of the NGO « France Terre d’Asile »).
WHAT NEEDS TO BE REMEMBERED FROM THE INTERVENTIONS :
Loic Tribot La Spiere opens this first round table. According to him, « the Gulf countries do not like each other, religion is merely a scapegoat not to go further ».
The first analyses of this debate clearly show that the stakes of the Persian Gulf’s crisis go far beyond certain local impulses. Anne Giudicelli reiterates that the dangers of this crisis on the Middle East define it as a « Cold War of the Desert ». A war, which « benefits Iran », in her opinion.
Nabil Ennasri stresses that « civil society should take in hand this crisis and the difficulties of the Gulf ».
While this first round table was given a very short time of reflection, it was nonetheless able to expose the geopolitical importance of this crisis through its stakes : it is a predictable crisis which risks destabilizing a certain world order, if it is not put to an end.
The gas reserves and the interests of various external countries (China, Russia…) complicate the task. Beyond the diplomatic results, the financial and economic aspects of the crisis are very important.
The issue of freedom of the press was at the heart of the second round table mostly due to the presence of the Al Jazeera channel at the symposium, since the coalition against Qatar demanded the closure of the channel as part of its ultimatum.
The four speakers report this hostage-taking and blackmail as a real attack on fundamental freedoms, hereby jeopardizing the democratic progress of Middle East states. This gave Clarence Rodriguez the opportunity to recall the context in which her book, « Revolution under the veil », was written, and thus retrace the fight of women through 8 female portraits.
Karim Bailla, author and distinguished reporter, presented his highly acclaimed report on the Qatar Eldorado « in the eyes of the Arabs » that was produced for Special Envoy and in which he defends the freedom of the press.
It is the former UN Under-Secretary-General and former Prime Minister of Guinea, Lansana Kouyaté, who will skilfully end this conference by a very nice speech. We should recall briefly that the President of Guinea proposed himself as a mediator in the crisis. Lansana Kouyaté pointed out, with great humor, the clumsiness of the whole process of ending the crisis in the Middle East : « The multitude of mediators paralyze this Gulf crisis excessively, as such, we will have to find a mediator to manage the mediators ».
We would like to thank Senator and former Minister Helene CONWAY-MOURET who facilitated the holding of this conference, as well as Senator Joëlle GARRIAUD-MAYLAM who assured us of her unlimited availability.
Given the quality of the interventions and the enthusiasm of the public for this conference, it is expected, as of September, to organize another event.
Thierry Paul Valette