Iran's Zarif says Persian Gulf security will be for all, or for none

Iran's Zarif says Persian Gulf security will be for all, or for none

Iran‘s Foreign Minister, Mohamad Javad Zarif, has highlighted the significance of maintaining security in the Persian Gulf, saying that either all countries in the region will benefit from security or all will be deprived of it.

In an article in the Kuwaiti al-Rai newspaper on Thursday, Zarif said that the security and stability of the Persian Gulf is an indispensable necessity in ensuring access to international markets. He added that regional security and stability has been maintained by the regional countries themselves for centuries.

Provision of security to the region is the prime responsibility of all regional countries and should be maintained without foreign interference, said Zarif.

He underlined the need for a “new discourse” now that the region is facing increasing threats and challenges, calling on regional countries to shoulder their responsibility to save the region which he said is “on the brink of destruction”.

The security of the region cannot be guaranteed through the purchasing of weapons and the signing of military pacts with foreign powers, but it can be ensured by trusting and relying on people, national capabilities and strengthening good neighborly ties, he said.

The common responsibilities of regional countries to this end include, but are not limited to, the signing of non-aggression and non-interference treaties, taking arms control and mutual reassurance measures, creating a weapons-of-mass-destruction-free zone, countering narcotics and promoting the security of energy and freedom of navigation.

The Iranian foreign minister also described the details of Iran’s initiative for regional security known as the Hormuz Peace Endeavor (HOPE), noting that the Strait of Hormuz is strategically important in terms of international trade and energy.

Zarif added that Iran’s initiative urges all countries in the region to avoid joining military coalitions against each other.

The Hormuz Peace initiative, with the participation of eight countries, Saudi Arabia, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain and Iran, has the necessary capacity to guarantee comprehensive security in the region through inter-regional discourse, he said.

Zarif said the fulfillment of HOPE’s objectives necessitates meetings between experts, ministers and leaders of the Persian Gulf region.

He further welcomed the United Nations’ capacity to create sufficient international coverage to address the potential concerns of some parties, and to secure the legitimate interests of the international community.

He, however, said that any such initiative requires the participation of all member states and mutual trust.

Iranian President, Hassan Rouhani, presented the initiative while delivering a speech at the UN General Assembly meeting last month and invited all regional countries to participate in the plan.

The initiative will ensure the provision of security for the Persian Gulf, the Sea of Oman, and the Strait of Hormuz with the cooperation of Iran and other regional countries.

Iran’s initiative comes as the US has been trying to persuade its allies into a maritime coalition, purportedly seeking to boost security in the Persian Gulf. This comes after the US blamed Tehran for two separate attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman in May and June, without providing any credible evidence to back up the allegation, which Iran has categorically denied.

Tehran has repeatedly said that outsiders cannot safeguard the region, but will fuel existing tensions there. Iran believes it is up to the countries of the region themselves to ensure regional peace and security.

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