It is time to establish a regional reconstruction strategy for the Middle East, one that involves collective vision, broad participation, smart security, equality, and other key elements, argues Dr. Sultan Barakat, director of research at the Brookings Doha Center and a senior fellow in the Center for Middle East Policy at Brookings, one of the panellists speaking at the ARC16 (Annual Research Conference) session on Sustainable Urbanism, Qatar National Conference Center, 22 March 2016.
The region, at all levels, now expects to be treated with dignity and to be the driving force behind its own development. It is high time to pull together to establish a ‘Regional Reconstruction Strategy’ that maintains a holistic, problem-solving outlook while drawing on various forms of intervention eg. community driven development, inter-regional development projects, targeted counterinsurgency operations, stabilization, state building and so on.
Novel approaches rooted in genuine regional leadership, broad participation, youth engagement, and the utilization of technology will increasingly need to be applied.
The pillars of such a strategy – seven in total – should be a collective regional vision, effective local participation, smart security, reconciliation and justice, equity, reconstruction and development, and capacity.
For all this to happen, fragility must be addressed within a coherent regional vision, not individualnational plans. It would be constructive if the international community and donors would try to view the region as a whole as one canvas in which to facilitate cross-border mobility of population, capital, ideas, and labor and encourage regional responsibility with different countries leading in their areas of competency.
International partners can support this with new and innovative forms of funding that utilize collateral guarantees from the region, not just individual countries. If we can embrace a truly regional approach, there may be a day when we elevate human dignity and human development above petty politics and sectarianism.
Dr. Sultan Barakat is the director of research at the Brookings Doha Center and a senior fellow in the Center for Middle East Policy at Brookings. He is known for having pioneered both scholarship and practice in the field of post-war recovery. In 1993 he founded the Post-war Reconstruction and Development Unit, a world-leading center at the University of York. Barakat’s current research focuses on state fragility and recovery in the Middle East, as well as the role of Qatar in conflict mediation.
Barakat has been widely published, and has over 25 years of professional experience working on issues of conflict management, humanitarian response, and post-conflict recovery and transition. Much of his work has been based in, but not limited to, the Middle East and North Africa, sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.
His research focus includes strategic conflict assessment; post-war reconstruction and state-building; humanitarian action; education in emergencies; and program evaluation and value attribution. Underlying these themes is a principal research concern with public diplomacy towards the Muslim world and the effectiveness of the research-policy nexus.
Barakat has acted as principal investigator on numerous large-scale conflict and recovery research projects for the World Bank, the EU, U.K. Department for International Development (DFID), the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, The Institute of International Education, United States Institute of Peace, the International Labour Organisation and others. Over the past three years, he has led an international multidisciplinary team in carrying out an education focused conflict analysis of Somalia on behalf of UNICEF; evaluated the effectiveness of the Afghanistan National Solidarity Program in terms of the reintegration of refugees on behalf of the World Bank; and completed a flagship Economic Social Research Council funded project investigating the impact of DFID-sponsored research on British state-building policy.
Dr. Sultan Barakat gave his Seven Pillars talk as part of the Sustainable Urbanism Panel at the Qatar Foundation Annual Research Conference (ARC) 2016 (Qatar National Convention Center:
See a video introduction here
11:00 – 12:30pm
Panel – Social Sciences, Arts and Humanities – Sustainable Urbanism
Introduced and moderated by Dr. Anna Grichting, Qatar University