The Maritime Security Conference, held under the Patronage of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE, and His Excellency Nicolas Sarkozy, President of the French Republic, and with special support of the UAE and French Navies, was organized by the Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis (INEGMA) on the occasion of the inauguration of the French Naval and Support Base (Peace Camp).
Two Plenary sessions titled “Technology and Cooperation,” and “The Way Ahead” were held today. They were followed by specialized closed workshops.
The First Plenary session about “Technology and Cooperation,” was chaired by Professor Gilles Kepel, Chairman of Middle East Studies in Sciences-Po Paris and by INEGMA’s Director of Research and Development, Dr. Theodore Karasik.
Mr. Jean-Francois Tallec, Secretary General for the Sea, France explored “Key Factors for Successful Cooperation.”
The speaker noted that technologies help advance manpower capability in multiple sectors as well as the need for broad cooperation in intelligence needs and processing. On the intelligence side and beyond, the exchange of information is the most sensitive and the most important.
Tallec also noted that there are other models for cooperation across bodies of water and that France and the UAE and help each other achieve that goal in the Gulf. A model considered would be Baltic Sea cooperation. Cooperation between the UAE and France is the perfect marriage that can also promote the interdependency of industry and beyond.
HE Dr. Abdullah Toukan, an Advisor to the Jordanian Royal Court, Senior Fellow at CSIS, and a Non-Resident Scholar at INEGMA, looked at “Sea-Based Air Defense: Navy’s Role in Missile Defense Network.” Under this rubric Dr. Toukan drilled down on what an Israeli-Iranian confrontation would look like under several scenarios by examining numerous weapons systems and C3I applications to illustrate potential immediate consequences of a clash and the impact on maritime security.
After the coffee break five simultaneous closed workshops took place, where specialists from all over the world discussed the issues of “Maritime Intelligence (Surveillance and Information Exchange),” and “New Technologies: Impact on Maritime Challenges – Industrial Implications, Joint Ventures, and Civil Companies,” and “Disaster Relief: Search & Rescue Operations & Role of Naval Assets in Aid Missions,” and “Energy, Oil and Gas Geopolitical and Economical Challenges – Gulf Cooperation Council & Europe,” “International Security Organizations: Local, Sub-Regional, Regional and International.”
The Final Plenary Session, moderated by INEGMA’s CEO Mr. Riad Kahwaji who summarized the overall themes for the two days to include the peaceful use and new chapter in the use of nuclear power; the placement of UAE diplomats in French Embassies where the UAE does not have representation; and the issue of global piracy as an epidemic.
Within the conference discussions the universal view of the need to revamp outdated maritime laws regarding piracy was emphasized including the need for an international tribunal for pirates. Also in regards to threats there needs to be an effort to build joint intelligence capabilities to pre-empt threats, not just wait for them to emerge and have time to mature.
Both the Commanders of the French and the UAE Navies spoke about improving International and Gulf maritime security cooperation.
Admiral Pierre-Francois Forissier asserted that all of the main threats including nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons as well as terrorism need coordination to guarantee the freedom of the sea. This effort needs to be parallel to international policy efforts to be unified. Still there are several areas where improvements need to be made that include the exchange and free flow of information amongst the Embassies and Ministries of the region. “Relations must break down this wall.”
Rear Admiral Mohammed Al Sabab Al Tenaiji argued that the GCC needs to work together against threats in order to maintain national security emphasizing that maritime cooperation is the key to balance in the region through multi and joint operations. Energy, WMD regional consciousness, and emergency planning need to be coordinated in order to neutralize threats, specially asymmetric threats.
As a subsection to economics and security, human needs and safety must be paramount. In the past, Al Tenaiji, argued, there have been many sea-based legal initiatives including the UN Council Law of the Sea.
There now needs to be a new diplomatic push that explores a new policy to enhance security and safety of navigation including more cooperation from Iran and Iraq in Gulf waters. This diplomatic push should seek local legislation that needs to be passed to address piracy, human trafficking, and overfishing.
INEGMA’s CEO Riad Kahwaji then closed the session by announcing the success of the conference and the hosts and sponsors delivered gifts of appreciation to the two Navy Commanders.
A formal luncheon was held followed by a signing of the guestbook for the opening of the “Peace Camp” by the two commanders of the French and the UAE navies.
The Maritime Security Conference was a two day event organized by INEGMA on the occasion of the opening of the French Naval and Support Base (Peace Camp) in Abu Dhabi. It was opened today by His Highness Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, the UAE foreign minister, and Dr. Bernard Kouchner. Both of them delivered key note speeches.
This conference was sponsored by CMN (Platinum), MBDA and DCNS (Gold), Thales and EADS, Al Arabiya Channel (Media Sponsor), Nation Shield (Official Media Partner), Defence21, Al Defaiya and Jane’s (Media Parnter).
Wednesday, May 27- 2009 @ 9:06 UAE local time (GMT+4) Replication or redistribution in whole or in part is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Mediaquest FZ LLC.