Security was the last thing on display in Munich



The Munich Security Conference, held this past weekend in the Bavarian capital, is to the security community what Davos's World Economic Forum is to the business community. But it is missing a few things. For one, it lacks the buzz and glamour provided by stars like Angelina Jolie and Bono, who roam the corridors of Davos's conference centre armed with feel-good slogans and well-meaning projects that appeal to the rich and powerful.

The stars in Munich are current and former heads of state, defence and foreign ministers and national security advisers; not exactly a fun, easy-going bunch, especially with their retinues of aides and bodyguards. The audience is overwhelmingly grey-haired, plainly dressed white men whose hearts jump at the mention of arms control treaties, security initiatives and conflict management, but who sometimes seem detached from today's fragmented world and certainly don't reflect its complexities.

Just like Davos, however, Munich is not about solving crises. It is about setting agendas, enhancing reputations, bombast and showmanship. A handshake with Henry Kissinger, perhaps the world's best-known unemployed diplomat, is a must. The agenda-setters were a group of elder statesmen backing "Global Zero", an initiative to convince the world's atomic powers to relinquish their nuclear arsenals. They truly are a powerful collection of global figures, from the arch-realist Mr Kissinger to more internationalist types like the former Australian foreign minister Gareth Evans, who led a high-level brainstorming group in Munich. They have the sympathy of the US president Barack Obama, although the leaders of Russia, China, India and other nuclear nations seem utterly uninterested in any initiative that would deprive them of their standing.

Dissenters in Munich were few, but their arguments compelling. It is relatively easy to reduce stockpiles from 50,000 to 10,000 warheads, but much harder to go beyond that because the fewer nuclear warheads there are, the more valuable they become. For a third-rate country like North Korea, nuclear weapons allow it to play in the major league; for middle-tier powers like France and the UK, they are key to their global relevance; and for Israel, they constitute an existential guarantee.

And it is impossible to unlearn nuclear knowledge, making every country with a nuclear past a potential proliferator. An opportunity for the Global Zero vision will be the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty review conference in the spring. Significant successes would be the establishment of multilateral nuclear fuel banks, the imposition of more stringent safeguards and higher costs for violators, and a commitment by nuclear states to declare that nuclear weapons should only deter other nuclear weapons states, not be an instrument used against weaker and non-nuclear nations.

One who came to Germany to enhance his reputation was the Afghan president Hamid Karzai. He is travelling the world hoping to redress his sullied standing after a controversial re-election, mobilise resources and sympathy for his political reconstruction agenda, and rally support for his plan to reach out to the Taliban. Mr Karzai may have been the most fashionable dignitary, but he failed to impress this time around. Promoting the Afghan mission was better done by others, from Nato's secretary general to European defence ministers and US officials. The audience was generally supportive, while the constituencies they represent are anything but so.

Bombast was definitely the forte of the Iranian foreign minister Manouhcher Mottaki. Not originally scheduled to attend, he flew into Munich on the opening night to guaranteed headlines. Days before, his boss, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, had made a vague allusion that Iran had no problem with a uranium exchange programme, so officials and journalists hoped that Mr Mottaki would say something that would revive nuclear talks. In reality, he had nothing to offer. He came to gain time and meet the Chinese and Russian foreign ministers as talks of sanctions intensify.

He then timed a press appearance to steal the limelight from the Global Zero discussion. In his talks with the director of the International Atomic Energy Agency, he made no commitment on key aspects of an exchange: the quantity of uranium to be enriched abroad, the timing of uranium delivery and the location of enrichment. Sure enough, Mr Ahmadinejad announced soon after that Iran would enrich uranium to 20 per cent domestically.

Hoping to counter Mr Mottaki's media blitz, the US congressional delegation led by senators John Kerry and John McCain gave a press conference denouncing Iran's delays and calling for more sanctions, although fewer journalists attended because the senators are not considered decision-makers. The smooth Mr Kerry appeared to roll his eyes when his colleague Joe Lieberman spoke of the "fanatical" regime.

The image that will be remembered, however, is the handshake between Danni Ayalon, the Israeli deputy foreign minister, and Prince Turki al Faisal, a senior Saudi royal. Mr Ayalon appeared to have bullied Prince Turki who, in line with the traditional Arab position of boycotting Israeli officials, had refused to sit on the same panel. The gesture will probably amount to little tangible. Prince Turki is a strident critic of Israeli policy and of weak US resolve, and Mr Ayalon is possibly the most inflexible and tactless Israeli diplomat.

If the Munich theatrics have done little to make the world a safer place, they told us a lot about how diplomacy is conducted and global power distributed. An undisputed star was the Chinese foreign minister, who delivered a blunt warning to the US over frayed relations. His Russian colleague was as blunt as he was bullish. The Turkish foreign minister radiated confidence. And only a few truly seemed to care about European security.

ehokayem@thenational.ae

UAE athletes heading to Paris 2024

Equestrian
Abdullah Humaid Al Muhairi, Abdullah Al Marri, Omar Al Marzooqi, Salem Al Suwaidi, and Ali Al Karbi (four to be selected).


Judo
Men: Narmandakh Bayanmunkh (66kg), Nugzari Tatalashvili (81kg), Aram Grigorian (90kg), Dzhafar Kostoev (100kg), Magomedomar Magomedomarov (+100kg); women's Khorloodoi Bishrelt (52kg).


Cycling
Safia Al Sayegh (women's road race).

Swimming
Men: Yousef Rashid Al Matroushi (100m freestyle); women: Maha Abdullah Al Shehi (200m freestyle).

Athletics
Maryam Mohammed Al Farsi (women's 100 metres).

The specs: Lamborghini Aventador SVJ

Price, base: Dh1,731,672

Engine: 6.5-litre V12

Gearbox: Seven-speed automatic

Power: 770hp @ 8,500rpm

Torque: 720Nm @ 6,750rpm

Fuel economy: 19.6L / 100km

MATCH INFO

Alaves 1 (Perez 65' pen)

Real Madrid 2 (Ramos 52', Carvajal 69')

Blue Beetle

Director: Angel Manuel Soto
Stars: Xolo Mariduena, Adriana Barraza, Damian Alcazar, Raoul Max Trujillo, Susan Sarandon, George Lopez
Rating: 4/5 

UAE athletes heading to Paris 2024

Equestrian
Abdullah Humaid Al Muhairi, Abdullah Al Marri, Omar Al Marzooqi, Salem Al Suwaidi, and Ali Al Karbi (four to be selected).
Judo
Men: Narmandakh Bayanmunkh (66kg), Nugzari Tatalashvili (81kg), Aram Grigorian (90kg), Dzhafar Kostoev (100kg), Magomedomar Magomedomarov (+100kg); women's Khorloodoi Bishrelt (52kg).

Cycling
Safia Al Sayegh (women's road race).

Swimming
Men: Yousef Rashid Al Matroushi (100m freestyle); women: Maha Abdullah Al Shehi (200m freestyle).

Athletics
Maryam Mohammed Al Farsi (women's 100 metres).

KEY DATES IN AMAZON'S HISTORY

July 5, 1994: Jeff Bezos founds Cadabra Inc, which would later be renamed to Amazon.com, because his lawyer misheard the name as 'cadaver'. In its earliest days, the bookstore operated out of a rented garage in Bellevue, Washington

July 16, 1995: Amazon formally opens as an online bookseller. Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies: Computer Models of the Fundamental Mechanisms of Thought becomes the first item sold on Amazon

1997: Amazon goes public at $18 a share, which has grown about 1,000 per cent at present. Its highest closing price was $197.85 on June 27, 2024

1998: Amazon acquires IMDb, its first major acquisition. It also starts selling CDs and DVDs

2000: Amazon Marketplace opens, allowing people to sell items on the website

2002: Amazon forms what would become Amazon Web Services, opening the Amazon.com platform to all developers. The cloud unit would follow in 2006

2003: Amazon turns in an annual profit of $75 million, the first time it ended a year in the black

2005: Amazon Prime is introduced, its first-ever subscription service that offered US customers free two-day shipping for $79 a year

2006: Amazon Unbox is unveiled, the company's video service that would later morph into Amazon Instant Video and, ultimately, Amazon Video

2007: Amazon's first hardware product, the Kindle e-reader, is introduced; the Fire TV and Fire Phone would come in 2014. Grocery service Amazon Fresh is also started

2009: Amazon introduces Amazon Basics, its in-house label for a variety of products

2010: The foundations for Amazon Studios were laid. Its first original streaming content debuted in 2013

2011: The Amazon Appstore for Google's Android is launched. It is still unavailable on Apple's iOS

2014: The Amazon Echo is launched, a speaker that acts as a personal digital assistant powered by Alexa

2017: Amazon acquires Whole Foods for $13.7 billion, its biggest acquisition

2018: Amazon's market cap briefly crosses the $1 trillion mark, making it, at the time, only the third company to achieve that milestone

The biog

Most memorable achievement: Leading my first city-wide charity campaign in Toronto holds a special place in my heart. It was for Amnesty International’s Stop Violence Against Women program and showed me the power of how communities can come together in the smallest ways to have such wide impact.

Favourite film: Childhood favourite would be Disney’s Jungle Book and classic favourite Gone With The Wind.

Favourite book: To Kill A Mockingbird for a timeless story on justice and courage and Harry Potters for my love of all things magical.

Favourite quote: “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” — Winston Churchill

Favourite food: Dim sum

Favourite place to travel to: Anywhere with natural beauty, wildlife and awe-inspiring sunsets.

Players Selected for La Liga Trials

U18 Age Group
Name: Ahmed Salam (Malaga)
Position: Right Wing
Nationality: Jordanian

Name: Yahia Iraqi (Malaga)
Position: Left Wing
Nationality: Morocco

Name: Mohammed Bouherrafa (Almeria)
Position: Centre-Midfield
Nationality: French

Name: Mohammed Rajeh (Cadiz)
Position: Striker
Nationality: Jordanian

U16 Age Group
Name: Mehdi Elkhamlichi (Malaga)
Position: Lead Striker
Nationality: Morocco

SHAITTAN

Director: Vikas Bahl
Starring: Ajay Devgn, R. Madhavan, Jyothika, Janaki Bodiwala
Rating: 3/5

Dengue fever symptoms
  • High fever
  • Intense pain behind your eyes
  • Severe headache
  • Muscle and joint pains
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Swollen glands
  • Rash

If symptoms occur, they usually last for two-seven days

COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: Klipit

Started: 2022

Founders: Venkat Reddy, Mohammed Al Bulooki, Bilal Merchant, Asif Ahmed, Ovais Merchant

Based: Dubai, UAE

Industry: Digital receipts, finance, blockchain

Funding: $4 million

Investors: Privately/self-funded


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