Persian Gulf: Necessity of Acquiring a Collective Security System

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Kabak Khabiri

The geopolitics of security and threat in the modern world has changed. Divergent security systems are rapidly giving shape to the new orders in various parts of the world. Under this condition, some parts have experienced more change and development compared to others; a development which not only was not accompanied by replacement and establishment of a new order but is also rapidly growing instability in the region.

The strategic importance of the Middle East and especially the Persian Gulf region in the world security has caused these regions to turn into a heartland in the early years of the new century and efforts to find a better footing or even domination over this region have been placed on the agenda of many powers.

During the recent centuries, the presence of big trans-regional powers in the Middle East and especially in the Persian Gulf has severely changed the face of the region. Growth of instability as a result of growth of militarism and deployment of aggressive instruments to advance the new order in the region  -- which has its main roots in the economic, political and security interests of the big powers -- has caused the growth of divergent component overtake the factors that can bring about convergence and cooperation in this sensitive region.   

After the widespread US expedition to the Persian Gulf following the Iraqi attack on Kuwait in August 1990 and the lasting military presence of the US in the region, independence of the Persian Gulf from world wars was challenged seriously. Under the new conditions and after the Iraqi expulsion from Kuwait, Iran’s attempts to revive the regional security arrangements as mentioned in the Paragraph 8 of the UN Resolution 598 remain unsuccessful.

Some renewed efforts made by Iran after the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003 had the same destiny. Now the broad presence of foreign powers in the region on the one hand and absence of clear security arrangements on the other are two major issues that have affected the stability of the region.

Very clearly from the early 1990s, the regional countries have been after getting security guarantees from the non-regional players and signing of defense agreements with them instead of looking for self-reliant regional security arrangements for the Persian Gulf and devising and creating necessary mechanisms for collective cooperation and security.

The broad presence of foreign powers in the region and the militarization of the region on the one hand and absence of security guarantees on the other are two main issues that have influenced the regional stability.  A paradox that shows off in the region is the safeguarding of security and order through destabilization or changing of the political systems by using force and removing from power. Such a move has encouraged growth of terrorism in the region on the one hand and increased military expenses of the regional countries on the other – which in return have increased noticeably in the recent years.

Furthermore, since the US attack on Iraq, the scope of instability existing in the region has been increasing every day. Moreover, not only the unrest and chaos have prevented formation of a stable government in Iraq, but domestic issues in that country can practically influence relations between other regional countries.

Efforts to advance guided democracy in the Persian Gulf and Middle East region which can also be accompanied by use of force and overthrow of political systems, has shifted the region from cooperative action towards defensive reaction of merger in trans-regional security systems.

Instead of looking for collective system of regional security for the Persian Gulf and designing and creating the necessary mechanisms for collective cooperation and security, the regional countries are now seeking security guarantees outside the region. This has led to the broadest presence of military forces of foreign powers in the region in the history.

Lack of stabilizing components would cause the political systems in the region face lack of security arrangements and security providing components. The presence of security guarantees has become difficult under conditions that:

1.    The foreign military presence in the region, particularly in the Persian Gulf would keep the potentials of threat active and prevent regional stability and order. It would also prevent cooperation of the regional countries to affect the trends that could accelerate collective cooperation. The Persian Gulf still lacks a `comprehensive security order’ comprising security organization and collective security system.

2.    Terrorism has become pivotal as a source of major threat against world order. Terrorism has not only caused instability in the regional countries but has also become the basis of many interventions in the internal affairs of countries or military interventions against them.

3.    The expansionist and warmongering policies of Israel practically prevent creation of lasting peace and stability in the Middle East. Israel is the only country possessing weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East and not committed to any disarmament treaties.

4.    Extremist readings of Islam in the form Wahhabism and Salafism have caused escalation of violence in the region. In the past this helped the creation and expansion of the Taliban and now it is adding to the internal unrests in Iraq as well as attacks on sacred Shia sites. The situation would further discourage the foreign troops from leaving the region.

Under these conditions, the best security guarantee is formulation of a comprehensive regional security system and collective security system by the regional countries. The basis of this system is cooperation and it underlines the strengthening of common components and gradual elimination of divisive components. It can help reduce the foreign military presence in the region and shift the nature of their militarization of the region to boosting comprehensive regional cooperation system and creation and consolidation of infrastructures. It can also do away with the issue of non-development which is one of the main reasons for insecurity. In the meantime, regional cooperation system and collective security would be an appropriate mechanism for the war on terror and its root causes. Therefore, it can be said that the regional collective cooperation system as the main provider of security for the regional countries would require full confidence building before anything else. The presence of a collective regional cooperation system for political, security, economic, cultural, social and military cooperation in line with full confidence building; non-intervention of the foreign powers in the region; lasting stability, peace and security; consolidation of relations between nations; and regional sustainable development is of vital importance.


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