Persian Gulf in Need of ‘Innovative’ Regional Cooperation System
EghtesaadOnline: Friendly relations between Iran and Arabs could improve the prospects of security and development on a global scale.
"With the new wave of turmoil in Beirut and Baghdad, where determined demonstrators have occupied streets for weeks calling for the removal of the entire political class, the Middle East is desperate for a serious reconsideration of policies by all parties involved in the region," Hossein Mousavian wrote in a recent article published by Al-Monitor.
Mousavian is a Middle East security and nuclear policy specialist at Princeton University and a former spokesman of Iran's nuclear negotiators.
He noted that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict remains the most vital point of contention in the Middle East, but resolving rivalries among the Persian Gulf countries, especially Iran and Saudi Arabia, would have a considerable impact on resolving crises in Yemen, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon, according to Financial Tribune.
But for such efforts and the reshaping of policies to be effective in the Persian Gulf, attention needs to be paid to several issues, he added.
The former diplomat said throughout the decades following the 1979 revolution, the [Persian] Gulf Cooperation Council countries have been allied against Iran, which has added much to the ethnically belligerent dichotomy of Arabs vs. Persians.
“Over the past few years, tensions between the neighboring Arab countries also increased dramatically," he said
“So hostilities in the region are not just limited to Arabs vs. Persians but also Arabs vs. Arabs. This is why the old formula to uphold peace, security and stability is obsolete.”
'Fear of Hegemony'
The second point is that there are three main varieties of "fear of hegemony" among the smaller Middle East states, namely the UAE, Qatar, Oman, Bahrain and Kuwait, the article read.
"The 'blatant fear' is about Iranian hegemony. The 'hazy fear' is about Iraqi hegemony. And the 'subtle fear' is about Saudi hegemony and dominance in the region," he said.
Mousavian maintains that the new model for sustainable peace and security should leave no place for anyone's hegemony.
"Third, all members of the [P]GCC along with Iran and Iraq have complaints about the lack of respect for their sovereignty, interference in their domestic affairs and the tendency for sectarian policies. Therefore, the foundations of the new model for sustainable peace and security should be based on seven factors,” he said.
"These are non-interference; respect for national sovereignty; mutual respect; commitment to abandon sectarian and pan-nationalist policies; commitment to maintain the geographic status quo of the region; commitment to secure mutual interests among states; and commitment to collective security."
The Middle East specialist noted that Iran and its neighbors share more common interests than disagreeable ones.
"Hence, the neighboring countries must be willing to invest more on common interests rather than on those that are incompatible," he said.
Mousavian stressed that coexistence and cooperation among Persian Gulf Arab states, Iraq and Iran would lead to fundamental changes in relations between Sunni communities and their Shia counterparts in the Muslim world.
"It would lead to more solidarity and brotherhood, which would then lead to better prospects of security, stability and economic development on a global scale," he said.
He argues that an effective regional cooperation system should guarantee safe maritime passage of energy exports through the narrow Strait of Hormuz and security for a quarter of the world's international energy exports, as well as the stability in oil and gas pricing.
"The member states could establish a taskforce to deal with regional crises such as in Yemen, Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan through multilateral diplomacy and cooperation with influential foreign and regional players such as the United States, the European Union, China, Russia, Turkey, Egypt and the United Nations."
Mousavian noted that such a system could facilitate a gradual withdrawal of American and other foreign military forces from the region, hence the UN Security Council must play a more robust role to ensure that security and peace are restored to the region.