Stimson Report 3
Alan Platt, team leader
For the Bush administration, the aftermath of the Gulf War and the demise of the Soviet Union and its empire have given new currency to enduring US objectives: the creation of a stable Middle East and the pursuit of a durable regional peace. At present, the current military balance in the region is generally conducive to stability and the well-being of the most responsible states in the region. Yet the defeat of Iraq by the coalition forces is no cause for complacency. Assisted by the unregulated flow of arms into the region by outside supplier states, Iran and Syria are seeking to build up their forces at a substantial rate; Iraq under Saddam Hussein represents a continuing threat.
A careful analysis of the risks and benefits of establishing multilateral guidelines for arms transfers to the region and the difficulty of implementing such guidelines paints a more cplex picture than is sometimes suggested by supporters of arms control. Arms transfers to the MIddle East are not the cuase of regional problems, which themselves are the product of deep-seated ethnic, religious, and sectarian rivalries; instead, the acquisition of arms are the result of deep-seated and unresolved tensions between Israel and the Arab world and between and within Arab states themselves. Resolution of these varied and hostile relationships will only come about through concerted diplomatic measures and negotiated peace agreements. Nonetheless, the Study Group on Mulilateral Arms Transfer Guidelines for the MIddle East has concluded that the estblishment of multilateral arms transfer guidelines for the Middle East can play an important role in fostering greater stability in the region, thereby strengthening the prospects for peace in the Middle East. Consequently, the group believes that the establishment of concrete, multilateral guidelines should be accorded higher priority and sustained attention by the US government.