The Future of Arms Control in the Middle East

Article excerpt

Political space is opening up in the Arab world. While it is particularly difficult to speak with any degree of confidence on the ultimate trajectory of the Arab uprisings (with all their local variants), the process of democratization that is sweeping the region is likely to have a significant impact on how Arab societies and their soon-to-be repre- sentative governments make and conduct foreign and defense policy in the future. One key area of concern is the subject of regional arms control and disarmament.

Standing in the way of arms control and regional security in the Middle East are old conditions - territorial disputes, arms races, security dilemmas, historical rival- ries, ideological radicalism, deep-seated fears of the other, and sectarian, religious, and ethnic animosities - that are well known and have been analyzed in some detail else- where.1 Because of the depth and scope of the political and security problems facing the Middle East, it is tempting to give up hope on the region and accept that no arms control initiative could ever be seriously entertained and practiced in that part of the world. Even those very few idealists who have retained their optimism rarely miss an opportunity to add one important caveat: it will take a very long time before arms con- trol is dealt with in a serious fashion in the Middle East, a region that is deeply troubled, hopelessly divided, and heavily militarized.

Nobody doubts that it will take years, if not generations, for arms control to take root in the Middle East. With the Israeli-Palestinian conflict showing no sign of resolu- tion anytime soon, increasing regional uncertainties caused by the political transitions, a raging civil conflict in Syria that not only threatens the stability of neighboring coun- tries but also risks redrawing the regional security map, and talk of possible military action by Israel or the United States against Iran to thwart its nuclear program, the pros- pect of countries in that part of the world cooperating with each other seems unthink- able at present. Thus the unprecedented move of placing real, verifiable, and mutual limitations on these countries' sovereignty, state secrets, and defense armaments for the collective goal of reducing regional insecurity seems even more far-fetched.

Nobody doubts that the Middle East will experience growing pains should it re- start arms control and regional security talks, a diplomatic process that has been in- terrupted since the 1995 collapse of the Arms Control and Regional Security (ACRS ) multilateral negotiations.2 Postponed indefinitely due to Israeli concerns about its timing and agenda, the December 2012 conference on a Weapons of Mass Destruction Free Zone in the Middle East is an example of one missed opportunity to restart the process.3 Any casual reading of the arms control experience between the Soviet Union (later Rus- sia) and the United States, as well as that among European nations after the end of the Cold War, will amply show that arms control - already a counterintuitive concept and exercise even to the most liberal and open-minded - is a tough and complex business.

Over the years, the ills of the Middle East and their effects on arms control have been properly diagnosed. However, more precise analysis of the likely causes of these issues and how they specifically impact regional security and arms control is still need- ed. It is evident that the region suffers from profound security problems and acute democratic deficits that will discourage even the most passionate regional security and arms control advocate. But these are outcomes, not causes of these conditions. A far more useful analytical approach to studying regional security and arms control would pay much closer attention to individual actors and the domestic contexts of their for- eign and defense policies. Such an approach for the Middle East is long overdue.

Prior to the Arab uprisings, the lack of scrutiny on the domestic contexts of Arab foreign and defense policies was justified by pointing to the fact that such poli- cies were the exclusive domain of a select few (i.e., monarchs, autocrats, generals, and warlords) and their close advisors. Under these political circumstances, inputs and pressures from actors outside that small decision-making circle on the foreign policy process were arguably minimal. With the exception of political psychologists, very few foreign policy analysts specializing in the Middle East saw much analytical value in studying the domestic context of Arab foreign policies.4 As a result, the "Arab foreign policy black box" was largely kept closed. Now, the current dramatic changes spreading throughout the Middle East will force analysts to finally open it.

While there are cultural, societal, political, and historical similarities among the countries of the Middle East, and while democratic transitions tend to unleash all too familiar forces in politics and society, it would be wrong to treat foreign policy and deci- sion-making processes in the region as homogeneous. Indeed, because each country un- dergoing transition or tumult is unique and at a different stage in its history with regard to political maturity, social cohesion, and economic development, the effects of change throughout the region and their implications for arms control will not be uniform.

A case in point is, for example, the divergent paths that Egypt and Syria have taken since 2011. Even though the process of change was violent and chaotic in its first few months in Egypt, Cairo managed to transition from authoritarianism to representative government following the ouster of President Husni Mubarak and the holding of free national elections. Syria, on the other hand, had a much less fortunate trajectory, and because of President Bashar al-Asad's refusal to address the legitimate demands of the populace, the initially peaceful uprising gradually morphed into a civil war that is threatening to rip the country apart and destabilize neighboring countries. Libya is somewhere in between, escaping the civil conflict and disintegration that Syria is experiencing, but at the same time undergoing acute political instability and militia rule given the massive void left by the previous regime of Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi. Tunisia's transition was the most peaceful given the relatively quick collapse of the previous government of President Zine El-Abidine Ben 'Ali and the vital pacifying role played by its civil society, but this hardly suggests that the process of democratic change will be smooth or problem-free, given the growing role of Salafi politics and resurfacing of Islamist militancy in the country and more broadly in northern Africa.

Yet despite all these variances and their implications for the future of arms control and regional security, countries in the region will experience similar challenges as they go through the difficult and much-interrupted process of state-, and in some cases, na- tion- building. All countries in the Middle East will face common problems and difficul- ties as they try to elect wise and accountable leaders, build institutional capacity, promote bureaucratic effectiveness and efficiency, and pursue economic development. Progress on these areas will affect, in dissimilar ways depending on the local context, the ability of Middle Eastern countries to successfully engage any potential arms control agenda, or more specifically, the concept and goal of a WMD-free zone in the Middle East.

NEW LEADERS

US-Soviet arms control achievements cannot be fully understood without account- ing for the roles and worldviews of national executives on both sides and the political circumstances in which they were operating. For example, Soviet leader Mikhail Gor- bachev's plan to revamp the assumptions of Soviet foreign policy was arguably central to understanding the USSR's willingness to cooperate on the first installment of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START I). While US President George H.W. Bush initially distrusted Gorbachev's new thinking (he ordered a review of the US-Soviet policy of his predecessor, Ronald Reagan), his approach to negotiations changed in the fall of 1989 as the US-Soviet relationship progressed and events in Eastern Europe un- folded, positively impacting Bush's worldview and beliefs about his rival. Bush also had considerable political autonomy due to high domestic approval ratings, giving him flexibility in foreign policy. In sum, both Gorbachev and Bush were in strong positions domestically at the time and willing to start a new chapter in US-Soviet relations.

The political tsunami that swept the Arab world in 2011 allowed Islamists to enter the political process in full force. While the world is still learning about the backgrounds and identities of the new leaders in Tunis, Tripoli, and Cairo, one thing for sure is that whoever will lead these countries in the near future and perhaps for years to come will not be another Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali, Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi, or Husni Mubarak. Of course, there is always a chance that the new governments led by the Ennahda Movement in Tunisia, the National Transitional Council in Libya, and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt will adopt similar foreign policies as their predecessors. But there is no question that these groups came to power under different political circumstances: facing greater societal demands and political pressures, and with new, and perhaps radically different, belief-systems and ideas that will surely impact foreign policy decision-making. Again, it is unclear whether the new leaders of Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, and other countries undergo- ing popular revolts will be able to bring their new foreign policy proposals and national strategies in line with their perceptions of the region and the world. Much will depend on the very nature of the democratic transition, and whether it will truly bring about concepts and practices such as the rule of law, an independent judiciary, checks and balances, and other democratic features that ensure openness, transparency, and accountability.

One widely held assumption in Washington is that Islamists, perhaps due to reli- gious and ideological convictions, will not maintain or make peace with Israel, let alone enter into cooperative arrangements with the Jewish state regarding regional security and arms control. Many assume that Islamists might be more eager than their predeces- sors to utilize WMD programs and strategic weapons systems. Islamists may also have different threat perceptions, as well as understandings of and appreciations for sover- eignty, cooperation, and how international relations work. While these assumptions are all possible, none is inevitable. Despite important and lingering questions about some Islamists' philosophical views regarding the secular nation-state, their past engagement in physical violence, and their somewhat inexperienced political background more gen- erally, it is unwise and unfair to judge these new actors - as heterogeneous as they are - before or immediately after they assume office. These new leaders are foreign policy novices and lack the necessary experience in foreign affairs, as they have never been put in - or, to say it more bluntly, have been deliberately and often physically ex- cluded from - positions of national leadership. In addition, arms control, an extremely complicated enterprise to begin with, was not something that old leaders mastered, or even fully appreciated. Therefore, whatever arms control "knowledge" or "legacy" that could be transferred from the old regimes to the new leaders may be minimal. This is compounded by the death of the ACRS process in 1995. Even as it was taking place, it did not attract much state media or domestic political attention (largely because it was a sensitive subject that Arab governments preferred to keep secret). Institutional memory of arms control in the Middle East is severely deficient and, in some cases, nonexistent - Iraq, Iran, and Libya were not invited to ACRS, while Syria and Lebanon chose not to participate - which makes the new leaders' learning curve even steeper.

Any potential rigidity and lack of cooperation by the Arab world's new leaders in foreign policy (particularly regarding arms control) is likely to be checked by domestic political contexts and potential political costs at home. Specifically, if political parties in- side and outside governments (sometimes within the same governing coalition) and new voting publics desire and call for regional security cooperation, the new leaders may have little choice but to comply. Yet the stronger leaders become politically and the more their support bases grow, the better they will be able to insulate themselves from such domestic pressures and enjoy greater autonomy in foreign and defense policy. Furthermore, new Arab leaders will have an interest in presenting themselves as nationalist statesmen who are capable of defying the US when necessary and aggressively pursuing their countries' national interests, even if it leads to frictions or conflict with Israel. However, should some of these leaders take substantive action based on these leanings, they would be lim- ited by the fact that their governments depend on US financial and military aid.

OMNIPOTENT MILITARY

New Arab elites have emerged and assumed positions of national leadership. So will others in the next few months and years. Yet what remains to be seen is whether the last vestiges of the ancien régime - the military and the intelligence services - will agree to this new paradigm, or be forced to step aside and allow for a real transformation of politi- cal affairs. One cannot speak of a new social contract in the Arab world if the militaries retain their supra-constitutional powers and firm grips on national politics. Egypt is one example where the fight between the Islamists and the liberals on the one hand (i.e., those who led the popular uprising), and the country's military leadership on the other, will de- termine the course of democracy in the country. One expects similar political battles and rocky transitional scenarios to take place in Syria should the regime of President Bashar al-Asad collapse and the armed rebels take over until a new government is formed.

History shows that authoritarian, military-dominated regimes jealously claim to guard their country's sovereignty, but do whatever it takes to protect their narrow interests and in- sulate themselves from the political and economic pressures of the world. These types of political systems are generally insular, defiant, and wary of globalization and international cooperation, especially regarding arms control.5 As a rule of thumb, when civil-military relations in a country are unhealthy and imbalanced, arms control policy generally suffers. While it is true that militaries in democracies also resist limiting armaments and cutting defense budgets (one need only look at America's experience in arms control before, dur- ing, and after the Cold War), final decisions are ultimately made by the civilian leadership. Resistance to arms control in authoritarian contexts where the militaries and their political cronies control national politics and decide on foreign policy is generally more significant.

Militaries in the Arab world have assumed major roles in defining the objectives and orientations of their countries' foreign policies, alliances, and national security cul- tures. Some national security cultures are more receptive to arms control than others. In the Arab world, it will depend in large part on the extent to which the new military leaders and their political allies embrace such ideas and practices. In sum, healthy civil - military relations and a properly defined role for the military and security services are necessary conditions for the creation of an arms control and regional security agenda in the new foreign and defense ministries in the Arab world.

While the new Arab militaries' and security services' tolerance and appreciation of arms control policy will be crucial to the future of the enterprise in the Middle East, their understanding of its complexities will require expert knowledge and technical skills that have been in shortage in all the countries of the Arab world. However, regular interac- tion with Western armed forces and military-to-military engagement at both the officer and commander levels has improved the organizational, operational, and knowledge- based assets of Arab militaries over the years, thus reducing the gap in Arab defense know-how (even though such a gap remains large). Furthermore, the development over the past few years of local defense industries in the Gulf region that are better integrated into the international defense market and enter into joint ventures with Western defense firms could be a promising source of expertise for the Arab defense sector. The United Arab Emirates, which is significantly ahead of all other Arab countries in its devel- opment of local defense manufacturing capability and know-how, is a case in point. Launched in 2007, Tawazun, the UAE's local defense investment company, has received much praise from major global defense companies for its manufacturing and design of defense hardware and software. Perhaps more important than its competition with larger and more established defense giants around the world is Tawazun's goal of providing UAE nationals with the proper education and training in high-tech defense affairs.6

In short, arms control requires its adherents to possess not only expert knowl- edge of defense affairs including strategy, doctrine, and tactics, but also a high level of technical expertise in land, sea, air, and space defense systems to manage that extremely difficult balance between reassuring allies and adversaries by cooperating and sharing sensitive information while also maintaining national security. Strategic dialogue on lower and higher levels, joint exercises and simulations, joint training and cultural exchanges, as well as partnerships and joint ventures with Western militaries and defense firms can be excellent sources of defense knowledge in general, and arms control expertise in particular, for the Arab world's new militaries.

LARGE AND DYSFUNCTIONAL BUREAUCRACY

Even as a new political era in the Arab world begins, state and bureaucratic ca- pacity will remain an issue for years to come. In the interim, Arab countries that may be enthusiastic about arms control and regional security proposals will likely struggle to turn ideas into reality.

The old regimes were not only toppled for their exclusion of large segments of so- ciety from the political process, but also for their creation and maintenance of large, cor- rupt, and inefficient bureaucracies that were necessary to sustain their patronage policies. These institutions, especially foreign and defense ministries, were filled with people loyal to the regimes but with few or no specialized skills. Thus, it is no surprise that corruption is rampant in Arab public administrations, a condition that is likely to endure for a long time and impact efforts to staff bureaucracies with diplomats, scientists, and specialists with the necessary skills and knowledge to fully engage any arms control agenda.7

Arms control requires a certain level of bureaucratic and managerial capacity that Arab governments do not currently have. Ironically, when fewer individuals are in charge of foreign policy, it is arguably easier to evade or bypass the kind of bureau- cratic inertia, politics, and infighting that generally impair arms control negotiations.8 (Just ask Henry Kissinger and how he centralized and micromanaged decision-making on arms control with the Soviets in the Nixon White House during the SALT I pe- riod). For example, Qadhafi did not have to consult his fictitious foreign ministry (or anybody else for that matter) to make the crucial decision in 2003 to abandon his country's pursuit of chemical weapons and a nuclear program. Also, while Mubarak consulted with his foreign minister Amr Musa and some of his top military officials regarding his decision to have Egypt participate in ACRS, he did not need to have his decision vetted by other elements of the Egyptian government or by the parliament and public. Of course, these actions and political conditions are not recommended and should not be re-created. Instead, these examples illustrate the point that with more political players likely entering governmental service and more actors engaged in foreign policy-making, the tasks of interagency coordination and cooperation will naturally become more challenging. This culture of bureaucratic politics, coordina- tion, cooperation, and compromise, at least as practiced in the West, is lacking and in some quarters nonexistent in the Arab world, and will take time to develop after more representative governments are put in place.

However, this is not a call for bureaucratic growth. On the contrary, Arab coun- tries, due to their populist policies, have historically had very large public sectors that have absorbed scarce resources that could have been directed toward more productive activities. Rather, it is a call for efficiency and effectiveness. Bureaucracies in the Arab world require major reform because their role will be counted on to serve the needs of ever-expanding and more politically involved societies. Arms control will face fewer domestic obstacles if the new leaders of the Arab world refrain from using their coun- tries' bureaucracies as control devices and spaces for extending patronage. The effort of stopping bureaucratic expansion and engaging in administrative reform will not be politically easy and will take time. With very few exceptions, all Arab countries face the same problem of downsizing and cutting off huge numbers of publicly employed personnel. But it is a job that has to be done and can be facilitated through better inte- gration of the private sector into economic life.

Intelligence services are another aspect of dysfunctional Arab bureaucracies that are in need of major reform. Their primary objectives have always been to crush politi- cal opposition and spy on society in order to prevent domestic threats to their spon- soring regimes. Needless to say, the services of Arab intelligence agencies have not been put to good use. So long as Arab governments continue to staff their intelligence services with loyalists rather than professionals and instruct them to serve as protectors of the regime, massive technical and human resources will be diverted away from other necessary national tasks, including foreign and defense policy Intelligence services play the crucial role of monitoring and verifying compliance with arms control agree- ments, and without their unique input, cheating by the other side becomes easier and more difficult to detect. Verification is a sine qua non for arms control, and its absence can certainly be a huge obstacle to an agreement. During the Cold War, arms control agreements acknowledged "national technical means" for monitoring their terms.9 Sta- bility was arguably enhanced by the confidence each side had in the other's intelligence capabilities. Without real intelligence reform in the Arab world and a revolutionary shift in these services' missions and standard operating procedures, arms control is likely to face some serious technical problems.

WEAK PARLIAMENTS

Parliaments in the Middle East are not as powerful as Western legislatures and do not play as important, though sometimes constraining, a role in foreign policy. Instead, Middle Eastern parliaments are symbolic, powerless, and often rubber-stamping insti- tutions that do not have much of an impact on important national decisions, including national security and foreign policy. There are variations, of course. For example, the political costs of completely ignoring the wishes and preferences of the parliaments in Amman, Kuwait City, and even in Tehran are higher than those in Riyadh or Damascus. But if push comes to shove, King Abdullah II of Jordan, Shaykh Sabah al-Ahmad Al Sabah of Kuwait, and Ayatollah Khamenei of Iran can make critical national decisions without the tacit consultation and approval of their parliaments.

The fact that parliaments in the Arab world play few or no constraining roles in foreign policy may sound like good news to the future of arms control in the Middle East. That is hardly the case, however. If arms control policies are to be effective, and if arms control agreements are to be durable, they have to enjoy not only authority but also legiti- macy in the eyes of the public, which usually derives from the parliament. Obviously, Arab parliaments should be empowered to fulfill the goals of legislation, oversight, accountabil- ity, regulation, and constant renewal of political life. But it is also worth emphasizing that strong parliaments can play an extremely constructive role in foreign policy in general, and arms control in particular. From ratification of arms control treaties to financing foreign policy proposals and approving defense budgets, or overseeing and scrutinizing weapons systems, to checking the executive branch and its powerful intelligence services, parlia- ments in the Arab world can and should have a much bigger say in foreign affairs. In sum, stronger parliaments guarantee a better democratic future and more effective foreign poli- cies for the countries of the Arab world. While most of today's discussions regarding Arab uprisings focus on the likely identities and policies of the new executive leaders, we should keep a close eye on the extent to which these transitions will empower legislative bodies.

RESURGENT CIVIL SOCIETY AND PUBLIC OPINION

The recent resurgence of civil society and the empowerment of the public in the Arab world are positive developments that will help ease and accelerate the transition to democracy It has always been commonly agreed upon that democracies tend to be more prosperous and adept at running their domestic politics.10 It is also widely as- sumed that democracies are better than autocracies at making foreign policy, negotiat- ing, and even fighting and winning wars.11 Part of the reasoning behind democracies' foreign policy superiority in relation to autocracies is that open societies, generally speaking, tend to form governments that are more competent and better at integrating and incorporating the input of as many skilled and specialized voices from outside the government as possible. Closed societies tend to form less effective governments because they have a much smaller pool from which to choose, often paying more atten- tion to factors like loyalty and ideology at the expense of skill and capability.

The importance of civil society involvement in the arms control process cannot be overstated. The instrumental role that American civil society and industry has played in supplying the US government with knowledge about and technical resources for arms control, including nuclear power, chemistry, biology, weapons systems, radars, sensors, overhead reconnaissance satellites, etc., has helped the US successfully negotiate and sign a number of arms control treaties, including the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and the Chemical Weapons Convention. Even the most competent governments need the expertise and specialized skills of practitioners, scientists, and companies from the private and nonprofit sectors. In arms control, public-private collaborations and part- nerships are essential given the field's complexity and multidisciplinary nature.

The Arab world's governments do not have a stellar record of engaging their civil societies and seeking from them the necessary knowledge and skill sets to enhance their public and foreign policies. Of course, some governments are better than others. For example, Jordan has a growing science and technology community that is often re- lied upon to assist the government in a wide range of public policy. On the other hand, while Lebanon has historically had an independent and vibrant civil society oriented mostly toward law, commerce, services, and business, its input and expertise have rarely been sought by the government. Obviously, the more open the political system is, the more opportunities and avenues civil society will have to lend its members' expertise to governmental policy.

Unsurprisingly, the idea of empowering civil society or including it in govern- mental decision-making has been anathema to Arab autocrats who viewed it as a politi- cal threat. With new political opportunities now forming in the Arab world and civil society being allowed to operate with more freedom after years of suppression, real investments in education, science, and technology - necessary for creating and nurtur- ing an arms control culture - are now possible.

While public opinion in the Arab world did not often generate significant political costs to old autocrats as they engaged in foreign policy (one notable exception, how- ever, was the assassination of Egyptian president Anwar Sadat for his unpopular peace treaty with Israel), this is more likely to change following the Arab uprisings. Through popular will and mandate, Islamists and liberals (in fewer number of course) are com- ing to power in Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, and possibly elsewhere, and should these new rulers not fulfill their promises, public opinion will not be kind to them and may force political adjustments or resignations.

BAD ECONOMICS

Arms control has been considered desirable because it could release economic resources. As early arms control strategist Hedley Bull once wrote, "armaments, or [arms] races, are economically ruinous or profligate, and... arms control [could] make possible the diversion of resources now squandered in armaments into other and wor- thier channels."12 But it is worth remembering (and die-hard disarmament proponents tend to forget or ignore this) that arms control is not an end in itself; it is a means to the ultimate goal of reducing the chances of war or limiting its costs should it happen (in the US-Soviet context, it was about improving strategic stability, a condition in which nuclear first strike incentives were removed). This suggests that arms control, as its early advocates envisioned, does not automatically equate with disarmament, cuts in defense spending, or limitations in armaments. Depending on the strategic environment and the threat spectrum, regional security is sometimes enhanced by the development of new technology and the acquisition of new kinds of weapons or telecommunications systems, which often inevitably leads to more defense spending. Therefore, under bad national economic conditions, arms control could suffer. Indeed, arms control could place heavy burdens on the national economy, and if the government is unable to spend more on defense, arms control will likely take a back seat to other perceived national interests. Many critics of arms control, in the United States and elsewhere, have argued that arms control is prohibitively costly and, hence, not worth pursuing.13

The Arab world's economies are notorious for their underperformance, lack of productivity and diversification, and deficient integration into the global economy (Arab Gulf economies are exceptions given their petroleum and natural gas resources). While Arab societies rose up against their tyrannical rulers to demand liberty and free- dom, their motivations were also inspired by their economic needs. The Tunisian street vendor Muhammad Bu'azizi set himself ablaze - unknowingly sparking a wave of revolutions across the Arab world - not so much because he wanted to be free, but because police officers abused him and wrecked his fruit cart, shattering his dignity and destroying his produce and livelihood.

The Arab world needs new leaders who can form competent governments and respond to the wishes of their constituents. At the same time, it also needs function- ing national economies that can produce, trade, employ people, and cut mushroom- ing public deficits. It is probably futile to discuss how Arab governments can devise and fund flexible arms control policies so long as the average citizen in the street is hungry, uneducated, unemployed, and sees little hope for improvement. If things improve, prospects may brighten.

CONCLUSION

The democratic transitions in the Middle East have presented a host of challeng- es and opportunities for the future of regional security and arms control. If the history of modern Europe is any lesson, the transition from dictatorship to democracy in the Arab world will take a long time, and in some quarters where institutional deficits are severe, perhaps even longer. But its effects on national security thinking and decision- making will surely be felt.

Despite the rise of Islamists to political power, change in the Arab world should be welcome because the status quo ante was anything but progressive or sustainable. How the new leaders will approach regional security issues, and how receptive they will be to new thinking and practices in foreign and defense policy, is a big question. With regard to proliferation challenges in the Middle East, much international attention and diplomacy has converged around the idea of a WMD-free zone. Most of the debate has centered on the dilemma of sequencing; i.e., which should come first: peace, or dis- armament and arms control? While there is undeniable positive linkage between reso- lution of political conflicts and progress on regional arms control, the debate has paid much less attention to the ability of regional countries, should comprehensive Arab- Israeli peace be one day achieved, to implement any potential arms control agreement, especially one so large and ambitious as a WMD-free zone. Several Track II efforts and initiatives have been initiated by foreign governments and international organizations over the years to engage Middle Eastern parties in a much more fruitful discussion on what it truly takes, from a technical, scientific, and organizational standpoint, to create and verify a zone free of WMDs in the Middle East. But as a participant myself in sev- eral of these exercises around the world, it is sad to report that despite its noble cause and some useful aspects, the discussion has been directionless and without real impact on public policy or international nonproliferation diplomacy.

Even if a real transformation in political and economic affairs takes place in the Middle East, the next challenge for Arab societies will be to start building durable and effective institutional and technical capacity to be in a position to effectively engage with any regional security and arms control agenda. That in itself is a process likely to take an even longer time. Indeed, the Middle East could open up politically, but remain mired in bureaucratic underdevelopment and an economic slump.

1. Michael Elleman, "Banning Long-Range Missiles in the Middle East: A First Step for Re- gional Arms Control," Arms Control Today, Vol. 42, No. 4 (May 2012), http://www.armscontiOl.org/ act/2012_05/Banning_Long-Range_Missiles_In_the_Middle_East_A_First_Step_For_Regional_ Arms_Control; Efraim Inbar and Shmuel Sandler, eds.. Middle Eastern Security: Prospects for an Anns Control Regime (London: Frank Cass, May 1995); Gerald M. Steinberg, "Middle East Arms Control and Regional Security," Sim'ival, Vol. 36, No. 1 (1994), pp. 126-141; Shai Feldman, Nuclear Weapons and Arms Control in the Middle East (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1997 ); Bruce W. Jentle- son and Dalia Dassa Kaye, "Explaining Regional Security Cooperation and Its Limits in the Middle East," Security Studies, Vol. 8, No. 1 (Autumn 1998), pp. 204-238.

2. ACRS is a working group on arms control and regional security that was created in 1991 fol- lowing the multilateral peace discussions launched by the US-led Madrid Peace Conference. Made up of 13 Arab states, Israel, a Palestinian delegation, and several other entities, ACRS complimented the bilateral tracks between Israel and the Palestinians on the one hand, and Israel and Syria on the other, focusing on confidence-building and security-related issues. See, "Arms Control and Regional Secu- rity in the Middle East (ACRS )," Nuclear Threat Initiative, http://www.nti.org/treaties-and-regimes/ arms-control-and-regional-security-middle-east-acrs/.

3. For more information on the 2012 conference, see James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies Staff, "The 2012 Conference on the Establishment of a WMD-Free Zone in the Middle East and the Role of the Facilitator," Monterey Institute of International Studies, October 2011, http://cns. miis.edu/stories/pdf s/111014_me_wmdfz_conf_factsheet.pdf.

4. Bahgat Korany and Ali ?. Hillal Dessouki, eds.. The Foreign Policies of Arab States: The Chal- lenge of Globalization (Cairo: AUC Press, 2008); Mohammad-Mahmoud Ould Mohamedou, "Foreign Policy in the Arab World: The Promise of a State-Centered Approach," in Jacqueline Anne Braveboy- Wagner, ed.. The Foreign Policies of the Global South: Rethinking Conceptual Frameworks (Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner Publishers, Inc., 2003); Raymond Hinnebusch and Anoushiravan Ehteshami, eds.. The Foreign Policies of Middle East States (Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner Publishers, Inc., 2002).

5. For more on this argument, see Etel Solingen, "Mapping Internationalization: Domestic and Regional Impacts," International Studies Quarterly, Vol. 45, No. 4 (December 2001), pp. 517-555.

6. James Doran, "Tawazun Trains Emiratis to Work in High-Tech Defense Industry," The Na- tional, February 19, 2013, http://www.thenational.ae/business/industry-insights/technology/tawazun- trains-emiratis-to-work-in-high-tech-defence-industry.

7. Joseph G. Jabbra, "Bureaucracy and Development in the Arab World," in Jabbra, ed.. Bureau- cracy and Development in the Arab World (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1989 ).

8. John Spanier and Eric Uslaner call this phenomenon "the democratic dilemma." For more on this argument, see John Spanier and Eric M. Uslaner, How American Foreign Policy is Made (New York: Praeger Publishers, 1976), esp. pp. 161-163.

9. The term "national technical means" covers a variety of monitoring technologies used by na- tional governments to verify the other side's compliance with an arms control treaty. It was first used during the SALT I talks, and it appeared in subsequent strategic arms control agreements between the United States and the Soviet Union (later Russia).

10. Joseph Schumpeter, Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1947); R.J. Barro, "Democracy and Growth," Journal of Economic Growth, Vol. 1, No. 1 (1994), pp. 1-27; Alan Prezworski and F. Limongi, "Political Regimes and Economic Growth," Journal of Economic Perspectives, Vol. 7, No. 3 (1993), pp. 51-69.

11. Bruce M. Russett, Controlling the Sword (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1990); Alastair Smith, "Fighting Battles, Winning Wars," Journal of Conflict Resolution,^!öl. 42, No.3 (1998), pp. 301-320; Allan C. Stam III, Win, Lose, or Draw: Domestic Politics and the Crucible of War ( Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 1996); Dan Reiter and Allan C. Stam, Democracies at War (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2002).

12. Hedley Bull, "The Objectives of Arms Control," in Richard A. Falk and Saul H. Mendlovitz, eds.. Disarmament and Economic Development (New York: Transaction Publishers, 1966), p. 93.

13. Two of the staunchest American critics of arms control during the Cold War were Assistant Secretary of Defense Richard Perle and Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger (both worked in the Reagan Administration). For more on their views on arms control, see Keith L. Shimko, Images and Arms Control: Perceptions of the Soviet Union in the Reagan Administration (Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 1991).

[Author Affiliation]

Bilal Y. Saab is the Executive Director and Head of Research of the Institute for Near East and Gulf Mili- tary Analysis (INEGMA) North America. He is also the founder and editor in chief of Anns Control and Regional Security for the Middle East and a non-resident scholar at the James Martin Center for Nonprolif- eration Studies (CNS) at the Monterey Institute of International Studies.