Imagining the Dividends of Peace*

Imagining the Dividends of Peace*

By Claude Salhani- Trend:

Summary: As bombs continue to fall on Gaza it may be somewhat premature to talk about peace in the Middle East but it is never too early to dream of peace. Imagine a Middle East without war and imagine what the people of the region could achieve if conflict was not omnipresent.

Imagine if billions upon billions of dollars currently being wasted on defense budgets in the combined countries of the region was invested instead in the advancement of social welfare, in encouraging businesses, and stimulating the sciences.

Consider the leaps and bounds that could be made in research and development in technology and medicine if the best brains in the Middle East could work for the benefit of the people of the region instead of looking for ways to emigrate to America and other greener pastures, as is currently the case affecting faculty members from the universities at Ain Shams to Yarmouk and from Beirut to Tel Aviv.

Imagine the rise in intellectual power if students in the Middle East could exchange ideas rather than insults, debate in lieu of hate, and scholarly theses in place of explosive devices. How would the level of education and understanding improve if scholars could lecture across the region without being prevented by man-made frontiers, both physical and mental?

These are just a few basic ideas in a sea of endless possibilities, where the only barriers are those erected by demagoguery and backward thinking. Of which, alas, the Middle East abounds.

Still, imagine the Middle East with a flourishing tourism trade where visitors bringing hard currency by the bucketful arrive on pilgrimages to the Holy Land without fear of bombs exploding in roadside cafes.

Imagine a Middle East where border disputes are a thing of the past. Hard to imagine? Look at Europe; how many wars were fought between France and Germany? Between France and England? Between Germany and Russia? Between the Austrian-Hungarians and their neighbors? How many armies waltzed across Poland and how many times were the borders shifted, re-drawn and shifted back?

Look at Europe today. Twenty-eight nations speaking 23 different languages as diverse as French, Lithuanian, Hungarian and Maltese, practicing dozens of different religions, but united in the single largest economic market in the world. War in Europe today is unimaginable because the EU has intertwined the economies of its member states in such a manner that it is simply unthinkable for any two members to resort to armed conflict any longer. How difficult could it be for the Middle East where there are only two languages and far fewer religions?

So imagine a similar political climate enveloping the Middle East where tourists arrive by cruise liner to Beirut or Haifa, or by charter flights to Baghdad, Tehran or Ben Gurion airports and are free to roam throughout the region without worry of fundamentalist abduction or of Israeli threats of retaliation on a massive scale, as is going on in Gaza today. Visualize how business and as a result the standard of living would benefit if people and merchandise could be driven from Lebanon to Israel, to Gaza and on to Egypt.

Think of what the tourism industry could offer with its temperate climates most of the year. When Europe is freezing in the dead of winter, and depression and suicide rates climb to their highest point in northern Europe, when the sun is visible for just a few hours a day, if that, the beaches of Beirut, Tel Aviv and Gaza only a couple of hours by plane from any European country can be very enticing - and economically sound.

Imagine a vast industrial zone established in Gaza where labor is abundant, easy to train, and inexpensive; and where European and US car manufacturers can open assembly plants and textile mills to market their products in the Middle East and Africa and beyond.

Imagine Christian pilgrims looking to follow in the footsteps of the great prophets, travelling unhindered from Israel to Palestine to Jordan to Syria and to Lebanon. Imagine Muslim pilgrims doing the same from Makkah and Medina to Karbala, Jerusalem and Qom. Imagine Syrian Jews being allowed to return to visit Damascus.

Imagine a Middle East without refugees! Where the camps of shame - now 66 years in existence, and where second - and now third-generation refugees are still squatting amid rancor and misery - no longer exist.

Imagine those camps replaced by decent, modern and comfortable apartment buildings with all the amenities of modern life; where the idle youth who were once only too happy to be offered an AK-47, a monthly stipend consisting of a few hundred dollars, along with unlimited prestige that accompanied the uniform of a "freedom fighter," and nothing else, let alone hope for a better future, can now aspire to a better life for themselves and their families. Give them a taste of what life should be like, then take a head count to see how many remain in line for suicide missions.

Amid the death and destruction what would it take to for neighbors to be, well, neighborly? The answer is somewhat simple: the day the antagonists in the Middle East will agree on peace is when they develop greater love for their children that the hate they harbor for their enemies.

Claude Salhani is a political analyst and senior editor with Trend Agency.

Follow him at on Twitter @ClaudeSalhani

* Note. The is an updated version of an similar article first published in 2009

After first phone call, UK PM Johnson looks forward to working with Biden
After first phone call, UK PM Johnson looks forward to working with Biden
UAE confirms it inked $23 billion deal to buy F-35 jets, drones from U.S.
UAE confirms it inked $23 billion deal to buy F-35 jets, drones from U.S.
USAID provides comprehensive support to entrepreneurship dev’t in Turkmenistan
USAID provides comprehensive support to entrepreneurship dev’t in Turkmenistan
Loading Bars
Azerbaijan completes repair and construction work on roads of Samukh district
Bahar Azadi gold coin price rebounds in Iran
Iranian Energy Exchange announces products to be on sale on January 25
Weekly review of events in agricultural sector of Azerbaijan
Khazar Consortium opens tender for purchase of cartridges, toners
Georgian exports of knitwear to Turkey decreases
Turkmenistan’s State Concern to sign contract with Chinese company for drilling pipes purchase
Israeli embassy welcomes scheduled resumption of flights to Georgia
Bazargan border reopened after unprecedented snow
Cobalt becomes most produced car in Uzbekistan last year
Turkey registers more than 5 200 new coronavirus cases
Mexican authorities recover 19 bodies, some shot and burned, in remote area
Israel bans international flights to curb coronavirus spread
Bulk of construction work completed in Uzbekistan falls on private sector
Turkey to receive 6.5 million doses of China's vaccine next week
Dutch police arrest alleged Asian drug syndicate kingpin
Georgia reports 546 coronavirus cases, 1 456 recoveries, 17 deaths
Germany ready to assist Kyrgyzstan in implementing green economy policies
President Rouhani: Iran's economic ties entering new phase
UK detects 77 cases of South African COVID variant, nine of Brazilian
Azerbaijan shows footage from Ashaghi Aybasanli village of Fuzuli district (PHOTO/VIDEO)
Implementation of drilling operations continue in Iran's oil fields
China sees fall in new COVID-19 cases amid strict local lockdowns
Iran's NIDC declares number of drilled oil & gas wells
Iran unveils details of exports via Bilasuvar border checkpoint
Uzbekistan to launch charter flights from Russia to Tashkent
Chinese smartphone maker discloses amount invested in opening factories in Turkey
Buy/sell operations at Iran Mercantile Exchange revealed
Georgia's import of tubes, pipes, hollow profiles from Turkey increases
Body of Azerbaijani citizen killed on Turkish ship to be sent to his homeland soon - Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry
Israel to start COVID-19 vaccination for high school students
Iran reveals COVID-19 data for January 24
Azerbaijan confirms 568 more COVID-19 recoveries
Portugal votes for new president at height of pandemic
Expert talks promoting import of electric and hybrid vehicles to Azerbaijan
Turkmennebit opens tender for purchase of various equipment
Azerbaijan shows footage from Jomerd village of Kalbajar district (PHOTO/VIDEO)
Sales of goods at Iran Mercantile Exchange spike
Iran reveals amount of loans issued to manufacturing companies
Georgia increases export of marine mammals, fish fats, oils and their fractions to Turkey
S&P talks about Azerbaijan's GDP growth in 2022-2024
Turkey set to receive second vaccine shipment from China soon
Russia records over 21,100 daily coronavirus cases
Weekly review of Azerbaijani precious metals market
Kazakhstan's exports volume to Georgia increases multifold
Azerbaijan's strategic foreign exchange reserves increase year on year
Iran announces volume of sprat caught in Caspian Sea
Azerbaijan shares footage from Ashaghi Veysalli village of Fuzuli district (PHOTO/VIDEO)
Consumption of steel products in Iran increases
3 injured as blast hits vehicle in Kabul
Weekly review of Azerbaijani currency market
Georgia reveals data on exports of semi-finished products of iron or non-alloy steel to Turkey
Iranian companies join UN CTCN
Kazakhstan’s daily COVID-19 case count stands at 1,584
Weekly review of main events in Azerbaijan's transport sector
UK to quarantine visitors from nations with high COVID-19 risk
China rescues first person from Shandong gold mine: state media
Over 2 mln coronavirus cases registered in Colombia
Israel reports 4,550 new COVID-19 cases, 593,578 in total
Iran's Marun Oil & Gas Production Company manufactures certain equipment
Iran to begin COVID-19 vaccinations in coming weeks: President Rouhani
France registers 23,924 new COVID-19 cases, 230 deaths in one day
Turkmenenergo to sign new contracts with foreign companies
7.0-magnitude quake hits South Shetland Islands: CENC
Turkey reports 5,856 new COVID-19 cases, 2,424,328 in total
After first phone call, UK PM Johnson looks forward to working with Biden
UK records another 33,552 coronavirus cases, 1,348 deaths
WHO reports over 600,000 new daily cases of COVID-19
Azerbaijani, Turkish FMs discuss pirate attack on ship
Top Spanish general resigns over allegations of vaccination queue-jumping
Pirates hijack Turkish ship off coast of Guinea, one person killed
BMB Trade Group and Uzbek Saffron Research Center discuss saffron cultivation and processing
Trend TV shares video report from plundered during Armenian occupation Azerbaijani Zangilan
Belarus, Kazakhstan seek closer cooperation in exchange trade
Management of Azerbaijan's State Oil Company being improved - Decree
New staff of Azerbaijani SOCAR's Supervisory Board approved
Georgia's external merchandise trade down 14.8% in 2020
Turkey halts flights from Brazil due to new COVID-19 variant
Gas pressure in Iran's South Pars gas field projected to decrease
Iran's gas processing potential to increase
Portugal holds presidential election as COVID-19 cases spiral
Italy reports 488 coronavirus deaths and 13,331 new cases
Italy to rethink vaccine roll out if supply problems persist
US broadcaster, journalist Larry King dies aged 87
Russia signs deal with Turkey on vaccine production
Azerbaijani MoD issues footage from Kalbajar district's Gamishli village (PHOTO/VIDEO)
Manat exchange rate against dollar to remain unchanged - Standard & Poor's
Bahar Azadi gold coin price again falling in Iran
Azerbaijan considering issues of regional schools damaged during Karabakh War
Iranian Energy Exchange announces products to be on sale on January 24
State subsidy to increase from 10 to 15 GEL per 50 kg of wheat flour in Georgia
Goods transit via Iran's Bileh Savar on rise
Tax authorities of Kyrgyzstan, Russia discuss launch of joint project
Japan's COVID-19 death toll exceeds 5,000 as total cases surpass 360,000
Indian gov't confirms outbreak of bird flu
Azerbaijani president expresses condolences to Ukranian counterpart
Bulgaria to ease some COVID-19 rules, restaurants closed for now
COVID-19 vaccine delays may slow wider Irish roll-out, says PM
Azerbaijan confirms 705 more COVID-19 recoveries
WHO office in Azerbaijan discusses project on preventing deaths from COVID-19 pandemic
All news