The Brussels-based Royal Institute for International Relations hosted at its headquarters His Excellency Dr. Shaikh Abdulla bin Ahmed Al Khalifa, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Bahrain Center for Strategic, International and Energy Studies (Derasat), who gave a lecture entitled “Regional Developments in the Gulf Region” in the presence of a number of heads of strategic studies centers, ambassadors, specialists and the media.
Dr. Shaikh Abdulla bin Ahmed Al Khalifa began his lecture with highlighting the similarities between the Kingdoms of Bahrain and Belgium. The two countries, for example and since long, have been important trade and cultural centers. Though they are located in two different regions of the world and thousands of miles apart, they both give shining examples on how countries small in area and population can, thanks to the wisdom of their leaderships, play influential and significant roles on the regional and international arenas. Both were able to turn religious and ethnic differences into a melting pot of unity and tolerance and turn diversity into a source of strength, not division.
The Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Derasat Center reviewed the developments taking place in the Middle East and the security challenges that represent the major factor in shaping the future of the region.
Dr. Shaikh Abdulla bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa said that understanding how the ideological aspects of the “Welayat al Faqih” regime is used in furthering the Iranian long-term expansionist and racist scheme is key to understanding the foreign policies of Iran and its acts that violate international laws and norms.
The Chairman of the Board of Trustees said that the international emphasis on reaching an agreement with Iran to prevent it from possessing nuclear weapons in exchange of the lifting of sanctions was a grave strategic mistake. As a result of this agreement, the international community turned a blind eye to the role of the Iranian regime in the creation, financing and sponsoring of terrorist groups and its efforts to destabilize countries in the region. Tehran also continued to develop its ballistic missiles capabilities, and repeat its threats to maritime security and oil supplies from the Gulf.
Dr. Shaikh Abdulla bin Ahmed Al Khalifa called on the international community to exert strong pressures on Iran to contain its policies and attempts to destabilize the region.
On the crisis with Qatar, the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Derasat Center said that Qatar is showing no regard to the norms that govern the relations between the countries of the region and the needs and interests of the regional security. Doha is trying to use the wealth arising from its gas and oil resources to gain regional influence through forging an “alliance with the devil” of terrorist groups. It is rapidly becoming a pariah state isolated from its regional neighbors as a result of its irresponsible behavior.
In the second part of his lecture, the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Derasat Center discussed the priorities of the foreign policy of the Kingdom of Bahrain. The top priority of Bahrain is to continue to work and enhance the cooperation with allies and partners. For this reason, the strengthening of relations with Europe has, since independence, been a key element of the foreign policy of Bahrain. The Kingdom attaches great importance to NATO as an organization that plays a pivotal role in promoting peace and security. For this reason, Bahrain joined the “Istanbul Cooperation Initiative” since it was first launched by NATO in 2005 and is also interested in the new Strategic Concept of the NATO alliance.
Bahrain looks forward to building a balanced and effective regional security architecture in which security and development are integrated based on the principles of reform, sustainable development, the fight against all forms of extremism and terrorism, non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries and strategic partnerships that serve joint interests. Dr. Shaikh Abdulla bin Ahmed Al Khalifa added that the Kingdom of Bahrain believes in a moderate version of Islam and in a reform process that is based on diversity, sustainable development, protection of freedoms and international cooperation. Bahrain is an active partner in the International Alliance Against Terrorism and the Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition, and is doing all it can to counter extremism.
Bahrain respects religious freedoms, promotes tolerance and dialogue and coexistence between religions, sects and civilizations. Within this context the “Kingdom of Bahrain Declaration” was published as an international document to promote religious freedom and the “King Hamad Global Centre for Inter-Faith Dialogue and Peaceful Co-Existence” launched in Los Angeles, the United States of America.
The President of the Board of Trustees said that the Government of Bahrain, under the leadership of His Royal Highness Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa, Prime Minister and the strong support of His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Crown Prince, Deputy Supreme Commander and First Deputy Prime Minister, is taking important steps to maintain the Kingdom’s position as a financial hub and a center for investment and entrepreneurship. Bahrain is working hard to diversify its economy based on the promotion of knowledge and innovation.
To end his lecture and in commenting on the role of Derasat Center, Chairman of the Board of Trustees Dr. Abdulla bin Ahmed Al Khalifa said that the Center’s vision is to seek adopt a holistic strategic approach to regional security, noting that the Derasat Center came in fifth position among the top research centers in the Arab world.
Dr. Shaikh Abdulla bin Ahmed Al Khalifa then answered questions from the audience regarding the situation in the Gulf region and the challenges facing it, the importance of military coalitions in the region led by Saudi Arabia and the important role of such coalitions in enhancing security and stability in the region. The discussions also covered the different aspects of the reform scheme of His Majesty the King and the success of Bahrain Economic Vision 2030 in translating its objectives as a pioneering national vision.