On July 23rd, Russia’s Collective Security Concept for the Persian Gulf Region was presented at the Russian Foreign Ministry, by Special Presidential Representative for the Middle East and Africa and Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov.
In attendance were representatives from the Arab states, Iran, Turkey, the five permanent UNSC members, the EU, the Arab League and the BRICS countries.
In short, Bogdanov laid out Russia’s vision that through creating a truly inclusive regional security system the safety can be ensured and a “decent future” can be provided to the people in this “strategically important region of the world.”
“The main principles of the concept are incrementalism, multilateralism and strict observance of international law, primarily the UN Charter and the Security Council resolutions. The looming strategic challenge outlined in the document is creating a holistic mechanism of collective security in the region and cooperation among all the states in the region on an equal basis.”
The full text of the concept can be found here, and following are the main points of it:
According to the concept, the current situation is rather unacceptable and “active and efficient” steps are required to normalize the situation in the Persian Gulf, “overcome the protracted crisis phase and turn this subregion towards peace, good-neighborliness, and sustainable development.”
Surprisingly, claiming that Iran is carrying all of these aggressive actions and responding in an arbitrary and unneeded way doesn’t prove beneficial, who would’ve thought?
Thus, the security in the Gulf should be based on several principles, according to Russia:
- Consolidating, in a single counter-terrorism coalition, all stakeholders interested in eliminating the hotbed of extremism and terrorism in the Middle East and ensuring sustainable political settlement in Syria, Yemen, other countries of the region, is a priority. With all of these being carried out under the UN aegis, in accordance with whatever is left of international law; “It is exactly this way that the main objectives of eliminating chemical weapons in Syria were achieved.”
- There is a need for mobilizing public opinion across Islamic and other countries with a view to jointly countering the threat of terrorism, including through integrated efforts in media space;
Comment: This is an important one, since as long as the US is aligned with a group, that group is automatically “center-right,” regardless of how many civilians it beheads. The Washington establishment, will then say that Russia aims to spread propaganda to forward its agenda in the region, and has little interest in “stability”;
- All parties should adhere to international law, to the UN Charter and UN Security Council resolutions in the first place;
Comment: Most countries in the region, actually do call to international bodies to mediate in a crisis, the issue in a fair amount of the time is that the US doesn’t recognize the authority;
- Peace-making operations can only be conducted on the basis of relevant resolutions of the UN Security Council or upon request of the legitimate authorities of the attacked state. Double standards are unacceptable here;
- The security system in the Gulf area should be universal and comprehensive; it should be based on respect for the interests of all regional and other parties involved, in all spheres of security, including its military, economic and energy dimensions.
Comment: This relates to the above mentioned one – no double standards;
- Multilateralism is considered to be a mechanism of participation of stakeholders in the joint assessment of the situation, decision-making process and implementation of decisions.
Comment: Once more, returning to double standards, as well as unilateral actions, mostly on the part of the US, but recently by the UK, as well (the UK attempts to drag the EU in there with it);
- Progress toward the establishment of a security system should be achieved on a step-by-step basis starting with most relevant and urgent problems. This concerns, first and foremost, combat against international terrorism, the settlement of the Iraqi, Yemeni and Syrian crises.
Comment: What are the chances there is a will in the Persian Gulf region itself to resolve those conflicts, surely the complete and actual defeat of ISIS in Iraq and Syria is desired, but does Saudi Arabia desire to back out from Yemen without at least a ‘formal victory’?
- This step-by-step approach is also applicable to the adoption by the Gulf states and international community of confidence-building measures and provision of mutual security guarantees in the region;
- Taking into account the close interrelation of regional problems, the establishment of a security system in the Gulf area is considered as part of the solution aimed at ensuring security in the Middle East as a whole. In this context, the principles of respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, settlement of issues of domestic politics through national dialogue, within the constitutional framework and without external interference, are crucial;
Now, all of these principles are all and well, they are not something that was a secret, they are by no means something new and surprising. The question are any actions going to result from these principles.
Based on these, though Russia provides some considerations. According to them the regional states, as well as those extra-regional stakeholders (e.g. Russia, US, the EU) shall:
- Reaffirm the whole set of their international legal commitments: in particular, the non-use or threat of force in dispute settlement, respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity of states of the subregion;
- Assume mutual obligations of military transparency (dialogue on military doctrines, defense ministers’ subregional meetings, establishment of hotlines, exchange of preliminary notifications of military exercises and military flights, exchange of observers, renouncement of permanent deployment of troops of extra-regional states in the territories of states of the Gulf, exchange of information concerning arms procurement and armed forces);
- Sign agreements on arms control which could include, for example, establishment of demilitarized zones, prohibition of destabilizing accumulation of conventional weapons, including missile defense weapons, balanced reduction of armed forces by all parties;
- Given the objectives of strengthening the NPT-based non-proliferation regime in the Middle East, take steps to transform the region into a zone free of weapons of mass destruction;
- Conclude agreements on combat against transnational terrorism, illicit trafficking in arms and illegal migration, drug trafficking, and organized crime.
In conclusion, Russia said that it was prepared to cooperate with all stakeholders, which is a song it has been singing for a while. Whether this concept and affirmations will lead to some concrete actions is unknown, it is also unlikely. But time will tell. Since, it is quite possible that even the US, UK and the Gulf states are beginning to realize that sitting on top of a gunpowder keg, which could potentially explode by accident is no way to move forward. Since, as the French philosopher Voltaire said: “Common sense is not so common.”
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