Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave these remarks at the opening dinner of the 7th IISS Regional Security Summit in Manama, Bahrain on December 3, 2010.
Good evening. Your Majesty, Royal Highnesses, Ministers, Ambassadors, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentleman. It is a great pleasure for me to join you this year for the 7th Annual Manama Dialogue. I want to congratulate the International Institute for Strategic Studies for the vision of this Dialogue and for convening what I am sure will be another thought-provoking conference. Every year this dialogue makes a valuable contribution to regional security, by giving the Gulf States and their partners the chance to discuss urgent challenges, bring new issues to light and find avenues for common action, toward common goals. I want to thank His Majesty King Hamad and His Royal Highness Prince Salman for hosting us so graciously. I also thank the Foreign Minister for meeting with me earlier today. As I have told our gracious hosts, this is my first trip to Bahrain; it is one that I have been looking forward to for a long time and I can attest that the hospitality is just as warm as promised.
The United States is proud of our partnership with Bahrain, which has flourished for many years. Since we are meeting for a security conference, let me mention just one facet of this partnership: Bahrain is home to our central command’s naval forces, which in turn, includes a number of combined taskforces that bring together nations from around the world to address critical security issues facing this region, including terrorism and piracy. These taskforces are an example of the kind of transnational military cooperation that makes us all safer and I think His Majesty The King for making this work possible.
As I look around this room, I can see that we do hail from countries from across most continents, and we have come here because we share a common interest. That is to work towards achieving lasting and comprehensive security and peace in the Gulf region. This goal does not belong only to governments. It is an aspiration that lives in the hearts of citizens across the region, from Dubai to Baghdad, to Riyadh; across differences of religions, class, language and nationality. People of this region, like people everywhere express the same basic wish: to live free from violence, free from intimidation, free to develop their talents and pursue their dreams in an atmosphere of stability and peace. It is in our interests to help the people of the Gulf fulfil that vision and I believe we have the capacity to do so.
The starting point for the United States is our profound commitment to the security, stability and development of the region. We have enduring stakes here. We have historical friendships here. We have invested blood and treasure to protect those stakes, those friendships and those vital national security interests. We have acted to reverse aggression and no one should mistake our resolve in standing by our friends. When our engagement with this region began decades ago, our relationships were largely routed in security and trade. Now, they extend much further. We and our Gulf partners are working together on issues including economic development, energy, education, water and health: the building blocks of stable, thriving societies.
Increasingly, what we are seeing is the opportunity to work with our Gulf partners, beyond the region. In fact, on the world stage, United Arab Emirates is doing cutting-edge work in clean and renewable energy and is home to the International Renewable Energy Agency, located Masdar, one of the world’s most sustainable cities. That is a security commitment. Last year, Saudi Arabia opened the King Abdullah University for Science and Technology, a world-class research and teaching institute for both men and women. That is a security commitment. Bahrain has become a dynamic banking centre whose sound practices helped it largely to avoid the recent global financial crisis. That is a security commitment. Oman and the United States are together supporting vital desalination research to help solve the global water crisis. That is a security commitment. Kuwait is home to lively media and parliamentary debates, which foster one of the region’s most dynamic political cultures. That is a security commitment. Qatar is working to improve agricultural productivity in arid regions to help fight hunger and protect natural resources. That is also a security commitment. Let me congratulate Qatar on its being named for the World Cup in 2022: more proof that this region is at the leading edge of leading world affairs.
The innovative, forward-leaning work that is happening in these countries and some of the defining issues of the twenty-first century signals a new era in our partnership. You are no longer Gulf partners: you are global partners. Our engagement with each other is broader and deeper today than ever before. I have had the great privilege of meeting with many people from the countries represented here in the Gulf who have a personal stake in the success of our efforts, because their futures will be shaped by what we do today, to strengthen Gulf security. Conflicts that arise here echo across the world. Many of our nations are targeted by the same networks of extremists. When they make headway here, they are emboldened elsewhere. The economic significance of the Gulf means that when your security is threatened, energy supplies, global commerce and trade flows can be disrupted. Now, part of being committed to the security of this region means identifying new threats and anticipating future ones, assessing how our defence cooperation can be improved and addressing the root causes of instability: the political, economic and social conditions that give rise to unrest and mistrust.
This evening I would like to discuss a few core principles that have been critical to maintaining Gulf security thus far and will be critical as we move toward the efforts to try to resolve these problems in the twenty-first century.
The first principle is respect for national sovereignty. Sovereignty is the foundation of the international system, and the cornerstone of peaceful relations between nations. It protects the integrity of borders and territories, it proscribes external intervention in the affairs of another state, in particular forbidding outside support for those who would use violence to achieve their agendas. In short, sovereignty authorises nations with the sole responsibility for charting their own destinies. We meet as significant change is underway in one of those nations: Iraq. After years of hard work, Iraq is realising its goal of becoming a fully sovereign, stable and self-reliant state. Last month, Iraq’s political leaders agreed to form a government that reflects the results of their election. An inclusive government with every major community represented, no one excluded or marginalised. There’s must be a government made in Iraq by Iraqis.
Let me be clear about the position of the United States regarding our relationship with a sovereign Iraq today and in the future. We are fully committed to working with Iraq as equal partners and equal members of the international community. Together, we will carry out the two agreements that our government and the government of Iraq reached: our Strategic Framework Agreement, which covers the full range of our bilateral relationship; and our Security Agreement, which covers our security commitments and the draw-down of US troops. The decisions that are charting Iraq’s course today are Iraq’s alone. The people and government of Iraq are in the lead. The Speaker is here with us today and he and the Parliament are off to an impressive start. No country should pursue its own interests in Iraq at the expense of Iraq’s unity and sovereignty and no country should threaten or intimidate or coerce Iraq or political stakeholders in Iraq.
We call on all of our partners in the Gulf region, in fact all countries in the region, to join in protecting the course that Iraqis have elected to take. Furthermore, to play a constructive role in supporting Iraq’s full reintegration into the region. Iraq’s positive engagement with other nations will rise as diplomatic, economic, educational and cultural ties are reinforced. These actions are actually in all of our interests because Iraq’s progress is essential for the long-term peace and prosperity of us all. The brutal regime of Saddam Hussein unsettled the Gulf for years, and the sectarian strife that followed was devastating to Iraq and destabilising to the region. Now, we are seeing the possibility for something new: a future in which Iraq does not pose a threat to regional security, but instead a strength to it.
Also, on the matter of sovereignty, let me just mention Lebanon, because the international community has repeatedly aimed to secure and promote Lebanon’s sovereignty and independence, including through multiple Security Council Resolutions. The Special Tribunal, established by the United Nations represents a statement by the world that the era of political assassination with impunity in Lebanon or anywhere must end. To those who claim that the Tribunal will destabilise Lebanon, I would answer justice is not a threat to Lebanon’s stability: the attempt to subvert justice by undermining the Tribunal are the threat. The United States joins the international community in supporting a sovereign, independent and stable Lebanon. The support we provide is transparent and in accordance with our signed agreements with the government of Lebanon, in accordance with our mutual interests and in accordance with respect for Lebanon’s sovereignty.
The second principle is security partnership, especially in the face of new and complex threats. The foremost measure of our partnership’s success is whether they help protect the people of this region, the United States and elsewhere from harm. As others have said, the threat of violent, extremist groups both within countries and across borders and the threat of states that pursue destabilising actions against their neighbours are among the immediate security challenges facing the region. Like other modern threats, the challenges call for shared solutions, which require cooperation on every level: political, economic, strategic and especially among our militaries. Our security partnerships with countries in the region have broadened and deepened to account for the changing security environment. Last year, General Petraeus spoke at this conference about our increasing cooperation on air and ballistic missile defence, early warning, counter-proliferation, developing a common operational picture, and broad based strategies to counter violent extremism. This past year has produced even more progress on these fronts. Our cooperation extends beyond the theatre: Gulf and Arab countries have been among the most stalwart partners in our shared mission against violent extremist networks in Afghanistan. Our hosts here in Bahrain, the UAE, Jordan and Egypt all deserve special mention for providing substantial civilian and humanitarian assistance in fields ranging from police training to civil service development, education to women’s health, and we are grateful that the IOC has offered to host a meeting in Jeddah of the international contact group for Afghanistan and Pakistan next year.
But there is so much more that we can do together. Amongst other things, we seek to strengthen the Gulf security dialogue, which represents our primary security coordination mechanism with the Gulf Cooperation Council countries. The dialogue is designed to bolster the capabilities of GCC partners to deter and defend against conventional and unconventional threats and improve interoperability with the United States and with each other. We all know that efforts to deepen cooperation, coordination and transparency among this region’s militaries would yield broad benefits that extend to the whole range of modern threats. It would become easier to manage incidents at sea, the likelihood of dangerous errors and undue escalations would decrease, the success of joint military operations would rise. In sum, cooperation among countries of the region would not simply be helpful, but vital. For no one country alone can combat the security challenges of the twenty-first century.
A third and related principle is freedom of navigation. The bounty of natural resources found in and around the Gulf gives this region a special place in the global economy. The Gulf states must be able to ship oil and other goods freely and securely by land and sea through the region. It is critical that we work together to protect free and open transit, and strengthen maritime security. The US has long stood behind this principle. All countries including Iran should do their part to cooperate in the common defence of the waterways. This is particularly important as we address the serious problem of piracy in the waters of the Horn of Africa. Pirates disrupt vital shipping corridors, kidnap mariners, interfere with the delivery of humanitarian aid. Stopping them requires a comprehensive approach, not only at sea but also on land, where desperate poverty and failed governments give pirates the room to operate with impunity. Several nations in the region have begun to contribute to this effort. Bahrain has deployed a frigate to assist with counter-piracy operations, as part of the combined taskforce dealing with piracy. Yemen is prosecuting pirates in its courts. Oman, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Yemen are among the original participants of the contact group on piracy off of the coast of Somalia, which has helped encourage the use of best practices by shippers in case of attack. Thanks to this outreach, successful attacks have gone down by 20% in the last two years. At the same time, however, the total number of attacks has gone up. The problem is outpacing the resources we have committed to solving it. So, it is urgent that we accelerate our efforts to end this dangerous business by improving maritime security, targeting the finances of pirate networks, prosecuting the criminals and addressing the conditions on the ground that give rise to piracy in the first place.
The fourth principle is a commitment to human security. Now, it may be tempting to dismiss this kind of security as soft or insubstantial. But the human dimension is often where the investments we make in military hardware and diplomatic outreach pay off. Because true security is not just the absence of violence; it is also the presence of opportunity. Like the opportunity to receive an education or find a job, to live in a safe environment, to have access to the basics of life: food, water, healthcare and housing. It is also the opportunity to participate in the decisions that shape one’s life and future, and the freedom to develop and express one’s point of view.
All of these aspects of human security depend not only on the support of leaders, but also on the contributions of civil society. No country can afford to dismiss that. I could not stand here and address this distinguished group without underscoring the importance of women as leaders and participants in the search for and realisation of human security, because when women are deprived of the opportunity to participate as full members of society, when they are denied access to justice and cut off from the civil life of their communities, the impact is felt not only by the women, but by their families and by particularly their children.
Human security is particularly important in the Gulf. A majority of the population in this part of the world are young people. They are now connected: they now know what is going on across the world through these social networks that they have pioneered, developed and basically dominate. Whether countries succeed in creating conditions that give them opportunities to live the lives that they are shaping for themselves will have a major impact on the security of the countries in which they live.
I know that Yemen is searching particularly for ways to meet the growing needs of their young people and the United States and others here are working with Yemen to improve economic development and job opportunities. We need broad international involvement in efforts to succeed in Yemen and I urge the Gulf Cooperation Council in particular to use its reach and resources to support Yemen’s progress.
We will continue to work on human security in the region, and it is one of the many reasons why President Obama and I are committed to achieving a two‑state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and a comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace. We are working intensively and in close consultation with many of the countries represented here to create the conditions for negotiations that can produce the peace that has eluded us for so many years. Negotiations are the only path that will succeed in securing the aspirations of the parties, for the Israelis, security; for the Palestinians an independent, viable, sovereign state of their own. I look forward to addressing this critical issue in greater depth during my participation in next week’s Saban Forum.
The fifth and final principle goes to the heart of one of the most complex challenges facing the Gulf and the world as a whole: nuclear non‑proliferation. The position of the international community on this issue is clear. All nations begin with the same rights and responsibilities. They have the right to pursue nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, but they must comply with the international safeguards that apply to states in order to prevent the diversion of that technology to destructive and destabilising military purposes. In this region, we see evidence of real promise on upholding non‑proliferation norms, and of course, we see areas of profound international concern.
Last year, for example, the UAE concluded an agreement for peaceful nuclear cooperation with the United States which makes clear that it seeks only the peaceful benefits of nuclear energy, not the capability to produce nuclear weapons. It also adopted the IAEA’s Additional Protocol, which will make its nuclear programme transparent, and build confidence in the international community that its intentions are entirely peaceful. These steps gave a major boost to the global non‑proliferation regime, and they paved the way for the UAE to successfully deliver nuclear energy to its citizens.
At this time, I would like to address directly the delegation at this conference from the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran. I am pleased to have this opportunity for your government and mine to gather here with representatives from other nations to discuss problems of mutual concern and interest.
In Geneva next week, the P5+1 will meet with representatives from your nation, the first such meeting since October 2009. We hope that out of this meeting, entered into with good faith, we will see a constructive engagement with respect to your nuclear programme. Nearly two years ago, President Obama extended your government a sincere offer of dialogue. We are still committed to this offer, but the position of the international community is clear: you have the right to a peaceful nuclear programme, but with that right comes a reasonable responsibility that you follow the treaty you signed and fully address the world’s concerns about your nuclear activities. We urge you to make that choice for your people, your interests and our shared security. We urge you to restore the confidence of the international community and live up to your international obligations.
Unfortunately the most recent IAEA report reflected once again that so far Iran has chosen a different path; one that leads to greater international concern, isolation and pressure.
We know that Iran is home of one of humankind’s great civilisations and the Iranian people are heirs to that tradition. With tremendous potential to contribute to the world we are building together and the world in turn would benefit from the full participation of the Iranian nation in the political, social and economic life of this region. We continue to make this offer of engagement with respect for your sovereignty and with regard for your interests but also with an iron‑clad commitment to defining global security and the world’s interests in a peaceful and prosperous Gulf region.
The principles of security, I have briefly discussed tonight, are not remote abstractions. They are evident in how our countries treat each other. They guide our interactions and the steps we take to maintain trust but it is not enough to list them or even to praise them. We have to put them into practice as individual relations, through our bilateral relationships, and in the regional context and that is where regional organisations come in. Around the world, the United States is finding that increasingly nations must work together through regional forums and institutions in order to find ways to expand their own reach and deepen their understanding of the problems we face.
Here in this part of the world, the Gulf Cooperation Council already provides a useful forum for addressing regional issues. It is my hope that the GCC will go further and take on an even greater leadership role, bringing nations together to discuss urgent regional challenges. I am sure over the next days you will have conversations about many important topics but I believe that all of the complexities of our world and the challenges we face come down to this – we all have choices to make. We can choose partnership or we can choose division. We can face toward the past or turn to the future. We can let the differences between us define us or we can focus on all that connects us, the common experiences we share, the hopes we have for the future, for our children. We have arrived at this place in our history because, for the most part, when faced with the choices to come together or move apart, we have chosen to come together and we have made real and meaningful progress. Now our work is far from finished but it is well underway and on behalf of the United States, I look forward to continuing to work with you to create that more secure, prosperous and peaceful world we all seek. Thank you very much.