The Maritime Security Cooperation Conference (MSCC 2009)

Post Event Synopsis - Day One

Maritime Security Cooperation
“Enhancing Maritime Security through a Broader Cooperation”
Day 1 Summary - 25 May 2009

In the opening session Riad Kahwaji, CEO of INEGMA stated that it is clear the UAE is seeking new partners in regional security matters. The French-UAE relationship is the latest manifestation.

The first key speaker, H.H.Sheikh Abdallah Bin Zayid Al Nahyan, representing His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE President, NAME, explained that the UAE seeks continuous development of defense and strategic relations with other states because of the many security threats represented by AFPAK, Iran and the prospects for Middle East peace. One major point of the new relationship between the UAE and France is an MOU that will allow UAE diplomats to work in French embassies. Renewable and reliable nuclear energy and transparency surround these issues is paramount.

The second key speaker, Bernard Kouchner, representing His Excellency Nicolas Sarkozy, President of French Republic, argued that the relationship between France and UAE had reached a new level via an air, ground, and water presence. All these contribute to maritime security. The threats to the region including the spread of North Korean nuclear missile technology, Iran, and piracy, present major problems but can be successfully dealt with. In regards to piracy, relations with Djibouti and Yemen will help stop piracy as well as the flow of illegal immigrants which is the interest to both countries.

The First Plenary Session, “Global and Regional Maritime Security” featured Dr. Theodore Karasik, Director of Research and Analysis, INEGMA. He stated that the importance of understanding the current state of play is critical in the regional context and how the evolution of threats challenges mariners and policymakers alike. He then introduced the three speakers.

M. Olivier Darrason, Chairman of IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale) spoke on the French vision of global geopolitical challenges running down a list of global issues as they pertained to France and noted the synergies with the UAE including defending the UAE from any strategic threat.

H.E. Dr. Anwar Gargash, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, UAE lectured on “A Regional Approach to Strategic Partnerships.” This briefing summarized the threats to the UAE on a number of levels from the perspective of Abu Dhabi and the need to understand the bilateral (GCC) and multilateral (GCC) relationships developing in the wake of Iraq.

Admiral Luciano Zappata, Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Transformation, NATO gave a briefing on “Developing Strategic Partnerships to Enhance Regional Security.” In this speech, Admiral Zappata eloquently explained the role for NATO in the Gulf region, why it is well suited for such a role historically, and now next steps can be taken based on the new strategic environment.

The Second Plenary Session “Key Factors of a Maritime Safety and Security Strategy,” General (R’td) Khalid Abdullah Al Buainnan, former Commander, UAE Air Force and Defense, and now President of INEGMA, served as moderator. He stated that the safety and security issues fall clearly under the new agreements specifically the permanent French base in the UAE and that a further drilldown on key issues is warranted at this juncture in order to move forward in this blossoming relationship.

Mr. Michel Miraillet, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, France explained “The French Comprehensive Approach.” Mirallet argued that the Mediterranean and the Gulf are more vulnerable today than ever and that a public service mission is now warranted. Intelligence sharing is more critical now in order to understand the domestic and external threat factors. The concept for France is to grow in the region as a supporter of peace and security. All the seas are connected to what happens in the Gulf outwards.

Staff Colonel Pilot H.E. Saeed bin Hamdan Al Nahyan, Director Operations and Training, UAE Armed Forces explained the UAE point of view. He argued that oil and gas security are very important and more cooperation is needed with many different countries—France being one of the keys. Professional security and military operations are needed to insure the smooth flow of commerce.

Vice Admiral William Gortney, Commander, US Naval Forces Central Command, Commander, Fifth Fleet illustrated “Developing a Collective Maritime Security Strategy: Needs and Goals.” From his viewpoint the environment today involves a number of operational issues such as AFPAK, Somalia, Iran, and Iraq. Under his command exists CTF 150, 152, and 151 which all support maritime security operations in different parts of the Area of Operations. All of these CTFs seek to illuminate peace thru strength and the power of to respect the rule of law. The need for the creation of a joint architecture for meaningful operations is a primary goal.

Following an official luncheon, the First Round of Working Groups began entitled “Threats, Risks and Vulnerabilities.” There were four sessions consisting of four moderators with twelve speakers. The groups focused on Piracy, Security and Safety of SLOCs; Illegal Maritime Activities of Goods and Human Trafficking, Terrorism and Asymmetric Threats; Pollution, Environmental Disasters and Preserving Fishing Maritime Resources: International and Regional Challenges.