Seminar Seeks Insights into ‘Arab Spring’ Phenomenon

GARMISCH-PARTENKIRCHEN, Ger­many, Jan. 20, 2012 — The poten­tial rip­pling effects on regions caused by rev­o­lu­tions in North Africa and the Mid­dle East lead dis­cus­sions here at a Depart­ment of Defense-spon­sored con­fer­ence held at the George C. Mar­shall Euro­pean Cen­ter for Secu­ri­ty Stud­ies.

Egypt­ian Col. Ayman Kishar, cen­ter-right, makes a point to speak­er Mag­da Kandil, exec­u­tive direc­tor and direc­tor of research of the Egypt­ian Cen­ter for Eco­nom­ic Stud­ies, dur­ing a pan­el dis­cus­sion about the ‘Arab Spring’ dur­ing a sem­i­nar held at the George C. Mar­shall Euro­pean Cen­ter for Secu­ri­ty Stud­ies in Garmish-PartenKirchen, Ger­many. Kishar is one of 97 par­tic­i­pants attend­ing the Jan. 18–26 sem­i­nar. DOD pho­to by Karl­heinz Wed­horn
Click to enlarge

“Arab rev­o­lu­tion­ary trans­for­ma­tion — Quo vadis?” unites two of the DOD’s region­al cen­ters — the George C. Mar­shall Euro­pean and Near East South Asia Cen­ters for Secu­ri­ty Stud­ies — as the theme of the Jan. 18–26 Senior Exec­u­tive Sem­i­nar 12–1. Both region­al cen­ters belong to the Defense Secu­ri­ty Coop­er­a­tion Agency. Nine­ty sev­en par­tic­i­pants from 47 coun­tries cov­er­ing three com­bat­ant com­mands — the U.S. Africa, Cen­tral and Euro­pean Com­mands — are work­ing to bet­ter-define what’s occur­ring in coun­tries like Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Syr­ia and oth­er nations. Speak­ers include aca­d­e­mics, mil­i­tary lead­ers and oth­ers involved with the change process in those nations. 

Retired Army Lt. Gen. Kei­th W. Day­ton, Mar­shall Cen­ter direc­tor, said what comes from these dis­cus­sions will be deliv­ered to com­bat­ant com­man­ders and oth­er clients for fur­ther use in region­al plan­ning and pol­i­cy decisions. 

“The top­ic — ‘Arab Spring’ and how we deal with it — is real­ly impor­tant, not only to Eucom, Africom and Cent­com,” Day­ton said, “but it’s also impor­tant to peo­ple who live in Eura­sia, North Africa, the Mid­dle East and Europe.” 

The ‘Arab Spring’ began Decem­ber 2010. There have been rev­o­lu­tions in Tunisia and Egypt; a civ­il war in Libya, result­ing in the fall of its gov­ern­ment; civ­il upris­ings in Bahrain, Syr­ia, and Yemen — the lat­ter result­ing in the res­ig­na­tion of the Yemeni prime min­is­ter; major protests in Alge­ria, Iraq, Jor­dan, Kuwait, Moroc­co, and Oman; and minor protests in Lebanon, Mau­ri­ta­nia, Sau­di Ara­bia, Sudan, and West­ern Sahara. 

Well aware of the seminar’s impli­ca­tions, Navy Adm. James G. Stavridis, Supreme Allied Com­man­der Europe, addressed the par­tic­i­pants via record­ed wel­come, call­ing the sem­i­nar an “extreme­ly impor­tant event.” 

“This sem­i­nar brings togeth­er an extra­or­di­nary range of view­points,” the admi­ral said. “So, how do we col­lec­tive­ly under­stand and react to this type of fun­da­men­tal change? Bring­ing all of you togeth­er will afford the oppor­tu­ni­ty to step back … and chart a course forward.” 

Among the nations rep­re­sent­ed for the event, Bahrain, Kuwait, Niger and the Unit­ed Arab Emi­rates are first-time atten­dees. In forg­ing bonds here, they will become part of the two region­al cen­ters’ 13,000-strong net­work of alumni. 

Pan­el dis­cus­sions and lec­tures are con­fi­den­tial, cen­ter offi­cials said, to help par­tic­i­pants open up about what they per­ceive are the chal­lenges in their coun­tries and regions. Retired French Maj. Gen. Philippe Som­maire, sem­i­nar direc­tor for the Mar­shall Cen­ter, said that strat­e­gy has paid off. 

“We’ve been get­ting almost exact­ly what we want in frank dis­cus­sions between guest speak­ers and par­tic­i­pants,” he said. “It’s going very well.” 

Mag­da Kandil pro­vid­ed an Egypt­ian per­spec­tive on events as a guest speak­er on Jan. 19. Kandil, exec­u­tive direc­tor and direc­tor of research of the Egypt­ian Cen­ter for Eco­nom­ic Stud­ies, said the sem­i­nar shines the spot­light on unprece­dent­ed demo­c­ra­t­ic transformation. 

“It brings the issues clos­er to the par­tic­i­pants here,” she said. “It’s very impor­tant to give them first-hand infor­ma­tion about what is going on in these coun­tries. We want the inter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty to real­ize how dif­fi­cult the process of trans­for­ma­tion has been.” 

Sem­i­nar top­ics touch upon dif­fer­ent aspects of the defense depart­ment, offi­cials said, includ­ing the Nation­al Guard Bureau. Army Brig. Gen. Kevin McNeely is a sem­i­nar par­tic­i­pant who also runs the Pentagon’s State Part­ner­ship Pro­gram. The pro­gram reach­es 63 coun­tries in Europe and Africa, includ­ing Egypt, Jor­dan, Moroc­co, and Tunisia. 

“The foun­da­tion of the pro­gram is ensur­ing rela­tion­ships. Get­ting a bet­ter under­stand­ing of the chal­lenges that are being faced by the gov­ern­ments and the mil­i­taries of these coun­tries is impor­tant to our part­ner­ship with them,” McNeely said. 

Day­ton said there’s no lim­it to what can be accom­plished dur­ing the seminar. 

“What we want to do at the end of the day,” Day­ton said, “is not only get a bet­ter under­stand­ing by talk­ing to peo­ple at a senior lev­el who come from these coun­tries, but we also want pol­i­cy rec­om­men­da­tions that go back to the respec­tive coun­tries involved so that they can bet­ter deal with the phe­nom­e­non that is prob­a­bly going to be with us for some time.” 

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs) 

Face­book and/or on Twit­ter

Team GlobDef

Seit 2001 ist im Internet unterwegs, um mit eigenen Analysen, interessanten Kooperationen und umfassenden Informationen für einen spannenden Überblick der Weltlage zu sorgen. war dabei die erste deutschsprachige Internetseite, die mit dem Schwerpunkt Sicherheitspolitik außerhalb von Hochschulen oder Instituten aufgetreten ist.

Alle Beiträge ansehen von Team GlobDef →