Speaking notes of Ambassador Youssef Amrani During the AMEC Conference "MENA Region as Target for Foreign Policy" - Pretoria October 8th

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  1. I must begin by thanking our hosts at AMEC for their warm welcome and particularly, for this clear and ambitious choice of theme to discuss.
  2. If we pause to think about the highly volatile current state of international affairs, the “future of the Middle East” may seem like an impossible question to address. But it needs an answer and it must be a collective one.
  3. As we witnesscurrent events that have shaken some of the fundamentals of traditional geopolitics –from Brexit to the 21stglobal challenges fuelling increased tensions in all sectors (security, migration, the environment…)–the future has never seemed so uncertain.
  4. We have undoubtedly reached a crossroads and the time has come to choose a path, both as a region and as an iternational community. So I applaud our hosts, for now more than ever, it is an absolute necessity to think about what future we want for our region.
  5. Now is the time for courageous discussions, honest dialogues and a genuine exchange of ideas that can help us build together a better tomorrow.

The present – the Middle East’s dark Reality within a rapidly changing world :

  1. Before we can talk of tomorrow, we must confront today’s bleak reality and come to terms with some difficult truths.
  2. There is first of all the urgent reality of violent conflicts in Syria, Libya, Yemenetc . They all seem stuck in an intractable status quo, threatening of greater instability and unspeakable humanitarian tragedies.
  3. Then there is the key Palestinian issue, which remains unresolved and remains at the very heart of grievances across the Arab-Muslim world.
  4. In parallel, governance deficits and the lack of development have become even more problematic. The many crises in our region have severely hurt economies, destroyed state infrastructure and restricted the space afforded to basic human rights.
  5. What is left is little hope for the ambitious partnerships and efficient cooperation urgently needed to address the interconnected web of chronic socio-economic challenges ranging from poverty, marginalisation, youth unemployment and inevitably leading to extremism and terrorism.
  6. The extremely unstable situation in the Middle East is then made even more complex by the profound political, societal and human transformations taking place at a wider level:

The rise of populist politics in the West which builds on fear of the other and in many cases on Islamophobia;

  1. The emergence of an asymmetrical world, led by new non-traditional, non-state actors and deep changes in our means of communication, where viral social media is taking over fact-based journalism,
  2. The exploding demographics and the ever-growing demand on our planet’s diminishing resources….(climate change, migration, global health and natural disasters…).

The list of new challenges is endless and we do not yet fully understand any of them.

  1. What does all this mean for our region? For the Middle East’s future and its place in the world?
  2. The questions are indeed enormous, but the answers have one obvious common denominator: we need to work together.
  3. This then leads me to the real question at hand: Why does the International Community still fail to achieve this? Why do we remain so deeply divided on the approach, methods and means that can help us work together to solve ongoing crises?
  4. The situation presently prevailing in the region confirm, that no state or multilateral actor, however powerful it may be, cannot impose alone, crisis and terrorism exit solutions;
  5. Today, it is a fact that the international community has not been able to come up with an alternative to the current crises, particularly through the reform of the Security Council.
  6. It is imperative to make the UN organization more representative of the current regional and global balances, capable of dealing efficiently with urgent issues, which may jeopardize international stability and peace ;

Moving forward and playing our part as a region:

  1. In seeking to work together to address these issues through a fairer, more pragmatic and effective global model, we need to think of our role as countries of the Middle East. This starts by doing our own homework internally, in terms of good governance, democracy, structural reforms.
  2. This also means building up, in parallel, coherent regional integration and an innovative regional model that can help us foster the stability needed for internal development.
  3. In this respect, I would like to share with you some views about collective answers that should be part of a genuine drive for change in our working methods, as a region, to respond to our common challenges and address theirroot causes:
  • We need to establish a model of global governance based on the respect of the specificities of each country of the region.
  • We need to work on the building the foundations for a new, fairer economic order.This must be an inclusive order, where the citizen is the priority and where progress and development is defined as human development, in its holistic concept.
  • We need strong and pro-active regional integration
  • We need to address our region’s issue of Identity.In the Middle East, identity issues and sectarian divides are rooted in faith and so we must work together on the deconstruction of the Jihadi narrative that seeks to distort Islam. This means working together, with religious leaders, civil society, youth, to communicate in ways that can overturn the narrative of hate and violent discourse.
  1. In this connection the striking element of Morocco’s singular process was that while Establishment politics tried to resist change in other parts of the world, His Majesty the King listened to the wishes of the people and implemented bold reforms to respond to them. A series of major good governance and human rights reforms.
  2. Three elements are essential in promoting change in the region : leadership, vision and commitment  these are  the fundamentals of the Plociy of His Majesty the King Mohammed VI