By: Prof. Dr. Mohsen Mohammad Saleh.
Few are the serious future studies done by specialized experts in the Arab world, and few are the studies in which the methods of future studies are used efficiently and professionally.
A few days ago, a new book by Prof. Dr. Walid ‘Abd al-Hay entitled “Futures Studies in International Relations: Applied Models,” was published by al-Zaytouna Centre for Studies and Consultations in Beirut. The 353-page book is considered a qualitative addition to future studies. It includes 16 specialized studies in which ‘Abd al-Hay, based on scientific data, used the methods, patterns and models of future forecast, to reach clear conclusions about Mega-trends and provide expectations concerning the subjects under study.
Prof. Dr. Walid ‘Abd al-Hay is considered one of the pioneers of future studies in the Arab world. Over the past forty years, he made many forecasts that came true, although when issuing them, there were no real indications that they would happen. ‘Abd al-Hay’s specialization in international relations made him apply future studies methods in his field. However, the Palestine issue and the struggle against the Israeli occupation and the Zionist project took a large part of his applications, analyses and comparisons, making him a reference expert in this field.
Therefore, the reader would find in this book specialized studies discussing Israel’s future, and studying the applicability of the “futile power” concept when determining Israel’s future. The author also discusses the future of political stability in Israel in 2030; the future of Israel in non-Arab future studies; the indications of Israel’s ranking in the international measurement models; the Israeli scenarios of facing the Iranian nuclear program; American declinism and the dilemma of Arab and Israeli strategic options. In addition, ‘Abd al-Hay provides an important study on “the future of the city of Jerusalem” and another on the future of the Golan Heights.
The book also includes important studies on issues that have an impact on the Palestine issue and the struggle against the Israeli occupation; such as the militarization indices and security strategy in the Arab countries, and the future of Arab-Chinese relations.
Readers of this book will notice some remarkable conclusions, that are based on rigorous systematic scientific studies. Among those are that the Arab-Israeli peace agreements—since the Camp David Accords in 1978 and until now—have brought neither development nor stability to the Arab region, as their defenders claim. On the contrary, they led to a more security behavior by the regimes, and an increase of the “militarization” level of the Arab countries. They have failed miserably in ensuring the sovereignty and independence of Arab countries, in the strict sense of the words. Readers will notice that there are only four Arab countries that enjoy political stability, which do not include more than 5% of the Arab population, whereas the rest of the 14 Arab states ranked very low in the global political stability index, ranking between 127 and 195 out of 195 countries. As for Democracy Index, it turns out that all Arab countries (except two) fell into the category of authoritarian states.
‘Abd al-Hay’s studies indicate that despite that stability and economic growth that Israel appears to have, and the “rosy” image it paints of itself to the world, global ranking places Israel among the countries with the worst instability throughout 2000–2022. Furthermore, since 2001, Israel tops the list of the world’s most militarized communities, which confirms that the image of a democratic state that it is trying to promote is not consistent with the militarization measurement. As for the Global Peace Index, Israel ranked very low between 134th and 152nd, in the 2010–2022 period. Also, 85% of countries view Israel negatively, making it among the most negatively viewed by world’s population.
Certainly, the book is full of hundreds of indices and data related to the United States, China, Russia, Europe, the Arab world, Turkey, Iran… and others. These are important data for those interested in understanding objectively the international scene and the conflicts on the Arab and regional levels, and in facing the Zionist project.
Studying the Palestine issue is one of the most “complex” studies in terms of methodology, for there a large number of data, interactions, active forces and religious, strategic, economic and cultural influence factors, and given its status and central humanitarian impact. In addition, the Zionist project is a global one, supported by major global powers, while the Palestine issue is a central and ideological issue in the conscience of every Arab and Muslim. Therefore, in many cases, the ideological, emotional, and wishful side overlaps with the objective, methodological scientific side, making forecasts inaccurate or in the wrong direction.
The Palestine issue is a central issue for the Ummah (Arab and Muslim nations) and its future, therefore, giving it adequate attention in future studies must be of high priority. It is imperative that those advocating for the Palestine issue not to depend on “astrology,” wishful thinking and intuition, but rather on systematic studies capable of extrapolating future possibilities, based on realistic data. This way, they would have conscious and organized interventions that would bring preferable or less harmful solutions. Surely, we trust the promise of Allah Almighty and the glad tidings of His Prophet Muhammad (SAAS), that Palestine would be liberated. However, future studies seriously contribute to drawing up a road map to achieve the goals, in the best ways and with the best available capabilities.
Experience has showed that there are lots of people who can speak and write about events, but those who are able to analyze and comprehend them are fewer, while their number is much less when it comes to assessing the situation or forecasting.
Prof. Dr. Walid ‘Abd al-Hay’s book “Futures Studies in International Relations: Applied Models” is an important contribution to the field of political science, the applications related to the Palestine issue and the conflict with the Zionist project, and to the understanding of dynamics and trajectories of the international environment. We hope that this will encourage researchers and scholars to provide qualitative research in this field, for we urgently need them in the midst of environments that are full of challenges and obstacles, but not devoid of opportunities and strengths.