Reconnaissance Research, the only independent think tank in the country, organized a forum last week titled ‘Looking East: Future Prospects of Asia’, to discuss the challenges and opportunities that exist between Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states and Asia.
Yusuf Al Ghussain, the deputy CEO of Reconnaissance Research welcomed the exclusive gathering of thinkers, diplomats and businessmen who were privileged to witness live the panel of experts, specially flown in from Japan and India, to deliberate on the forum’s theme topic.
The distinguished panel included Senior fellow at the Japanese Ministry of Defense and former Ambassador to Qatar, Ambassador Kazuo Sunaga, Prof Aftab Kamal Pasha, former director and chairman of Gulf Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University in India, and Ms. Yamashita Yukari from the Institute of Energy Economics in Japan.
The panel was moderated by the CEO and Founder of Reconnaissance Research, Abdulaziz Al Anjari, who made the discussion lively and interesting with some pertinent questions to the panel. Among the topics discussed were the political challenges between Asia and the GCC, in particular with Kuwait; stability of the Indo-Pacific Ocean region and East Asian seas; recent developments on economic cooperation between Asia and Kuwait; and multilateral frameworks and agreements on trade in the Indo-Pacific region.
Ambassador Sunaga began the discussions with a focus on the political ties that have held Japan and Kuwait together for decades and stated that the two friends “cultivated a productive and a friendly relation, which witnessed and withstood multiple historical events that proved the solidarity and strength of mutual relations, including through events such as Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990 and Japan’s devastating earthquake in 2011.
“Kuwait and Japan showed the way countries should behave when facing such calamities,” Sunaga added. He also mentioned Kuwait’s role as a mediator in various political crises and the fact that the country hosted a number of international forums that called for peaceful approaches to regional conflicts. This, he said, was another trait that Japan shares with Kuwait.
He also pointed out that the importance of the GCC region, including Kuwait, cannot be overstated as their share of the global energy market was substantial and thus the security of the region was of paramount importance.
In his remarks, Professor Pasha talked about Kuwait’s early interest in democracy and how the country’s late Amir Sheikh Abdullah Al Salem Al Sabah showed his interest in a constitutional and democratic form of government through multiple visits to India’s parliament to witness the implementation of the Indian constitution.
Professor Pasha also lauded Kuwait’s Development Fund which funded over 80 infrastructure and energy related projects in India that further strengthened diplomatic relations between the two countries.
He added that if one looked at the security and peace issue in the GCC it was directly linked with the security of south and east Asia, as our economies and prosperities are interconnected. Professor Pasha said that there has been a shift in the past couple of decades toward the “East rather than West because nobody can contain the explosive growth of some of the Asian countries”, and emphasized the need to continue the cooperation to supply the energy from the GCC to them.
For her part, Ms. Yamashita, talked about new challenges that the world has been facing when it comes to energy security, one major issue being climate change which was on the top agenda for many countries before the Russian-Ukrainian conflict ignited in 2022, which negatively impacted the world’s supply of natural gas.
The audience were engaged in a lively question and answer session with the panel of experts who expressed frank views on all the issues. The guests expressed immense interest in understanding how to leverage the age-old relationship and how to enhance this contact through economic and military engagement.