G7 performance on regional security in the Middle East
When it comes to security in this region, more commitments do not equal greater compliance. Explicit links to broader missions and the inclusion of regional guests in summits are among the mechanisms available to achieve more, writes Maria Zelenova, research analyst, G7 Research Group
Since it first mentioned security in the broader Middle East at the 1980 Venice Summit, the G7 has regularly addressed the use of force, sanctions, diplomatic suasion and financial support to mitigate conflict in the region. The democratic mandate of the G7 makes it well suited to this task for a region that includes Afghanistan to the west, the Persian Gulf to the south, Egypt and Libya to the east, and Turkey to the north. Importantly, G7 members often commit to comply with United Nations Security Council resolutions related to the Middle East.
At Venice, G7 leaders condemned the Soviet military occupation of Afghanistan and endorsed Resolution ESVI/2 passed by the United Nations General Assembly. They dedicated 474 words and eight paragraphs to building a more secure Afghanistan. They addressed security in the Middle East at almost every subsequent summit, except in 1983, 1985, 1986, 1990 and 2003. Their attention peaked at 4,803 words made at the 2011 Deauville Summit. Overall, communiqué conclusions focused on the Arab–Israeli dispute, promoting full compliance with relevant resolutions passed by the UN General Assembly and Security Council and with humanitarian support in the region.
Since 1984, G7 summits have produced 141 collective, politically binding, future-oriented commitments on security in the broader Middle East, as identified by the G7 Research Group.
The first commitment, made at the 1984 London Summit, called for the peaceful settlement of the Iran–Iraq conflict. The next appeared only at the 1996 Lyon Summit, when leaders pledged to enforce implementation of “all UN Security Council resolutions concerning Iraq and Libya”. They produced more commitments on the broader Middle East at the 2001, 2004, 2005 and 2006 summits, and at every summit after 2008. Most recently, the 2016 and 2017 summits produced commitments on the stabilisation and rehabilitation of Syria, as well as on the defeat of terrorist networks operating there.
The G7 Research Group has assessed 11 of all the commitments on broader Middle East security for compliance by G7 members. Compliance averaged 87%, which is significantly higher than the overall average of 75% for all subjects.
The highest compliance came with the assessed commitments from the 2005, 2006, 2010 and 2011 summits. Full compliance came with commitments on mobilising political support for financial contributions, offering economic and humanitarian support for the Lebanese people, establishing an Afghanistan-led national reconciliation and reintegration process, and supporting the transition process of Afghanistan. The lowest compliance score of 72% came from 2008, on accelerating Afghan police and other elements of security reforms.
Generally, compliance with commitments on security in the broader Middle East has decreased. Most recently, the 2016 and 2017 commitments on security and stability in Syria achieved scores of 87% and 75% respectively – a drop from the perfect compliance scores often achieved on commitments in previous years.
The 11 commitments assessed for compliance suggest that the G7 can improve its compliance in the following four ways.
First, the leaders should be cautious about making more commitments on security in the broader Middle East, for more commitments on this subject do not increase compliance with those assessed. For example, the 2013 Lough Erne Summit made five commitments, but the one assessed for compliance had a below-average score of 83%.
Second, leaders should make more explicit links in their commitments to the G7’s distinctive fundamental mission of open democracy and individual liberty.
Third, they should link their commitments to issues such as financial regulation, economic development and immigration. Commitments that included a reference to one or both of these missions or subjects achieved near-perfect compliance scores.
Fourth, G7 leaders should invite more regional guests to the summits. Doing so creates more outreach and accountability, which in turn relates to higher compliance. Inviting regional guests,
such as the leaders of Egypt, Turkey or Libya, helps produce more ambitious, inclusive commitments. Two summits that did so – L’Aquila in 2009 and Muskoka in 2010 – achieved compliance of 94% and 100% respectively.
Thus, G7 leaders should continue to put humanitarian crises in the Middle East on their agenda, address the impact of those crises on global economic growth, and increase outreach to regional partners and relevant international organisations. With the leader of Egypt invited to the 2019 Biarritz Summit, there may be an opportunity to continue forging the links between security in the region and economic inclusivity, and to build on the texts of relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions.