Recent Event: WMD-Free Zone: A Scenario-Building Exercise

On May 26, 2016, MENACS member Tomisha Bino (Jordan) led a London event on the prospects for establishing a WMD-Free Zone in the Middle East. The objective of the event was to use Scenario-Planning as a tool to map out the possible developments in Middle East power dynamics in order to gauge the viability of the WMD-Free Zone (WMDFZ) proposal in the different possible scenarios. The event included officials from the region and experts on arms control and the Middle East. The event was held under the Chatham House Rule.

The event started off with a presentation on the WMD-Free Zone process thus far, followed by short presentations by attending experts on the political and strategic situation as well as positions on the WMDFZ of four regional countries (Saudi Arabia, Israel, Egypt and Iran). The presentations highlighted the milestones in foreign and security policy positions of the different countries from 1995 (the year the Middle East WMDFZ Resolution was adopted) till the present. At the end of each presentation, the speakers provided the group with the three key security challenges they saw each of the countries facing within the coming 5-10 years. This was followed by a group discussion on the possible responses by each country to these challenges and the possible effects of these responses on the power dynamics in the region.

The most interesting outcomes of the exercise include:

  • Terrorism is a main concern of all the four countries and cooperation among the countries is a desirable route;
  • Internal divisions and domestic unrest are seen as a key security challenges in all four countries;
  • Perceived threats from a certain country are not mirrored in many cases. (e.g. Saudi Arabia sees Iran as a threat to its security, but Iran does not view Saudi as a threat);
  • Aside from the fear of the collapse of the JCPOA, none of the countries the event looked at articulated their key security challenges through the threat of WMD.

The proceedings and outcomes of the event will contribute to a paper by Tomisha Bino, which is expected to be published by the end of 2016.


Accompanying photo: Summary of foreign and security policy positions, key challenges and some the responses.