Authors: Mohammad Ghaderi & Javad Heiran-Nia
In accord with Barry Buzan’s understanding of Regional Security Complex, the Persian Gulf region is itself a security complex made up of friendship and enmity between nation states, communities, and individuals. The friendships and enmity range from deeply historical to current economic, social, cultural, religious, and even personal matters. The role of Iran among Arabs, for example, exhibits such complexity, and is not analyzable simply in terms of the distribution of power. Iran-Arab relations includes border disputes, attachments of persons with a same or similar tribal identity or ideological attitudes, positive or negative communications between Arab and non-Arab or Shiite and Sunni Muslims.
In fact, there is a kind of mutual dependency in the security complex of the Persian Gulf like other regions. But security competition is negative in the Iran – Iraq and Saudi Arabia triangle. In such a complex, the small states like Kuwait, Qatar, UAE and Bahrain have very limited influence on the structure of this complex. Their security almost depends on the bigger regional power’s pattern and could be defined as a threat against a great power under conditions when alliances are formed with the greater powers.
The security pattern of the Persian Gulf has been worsened in its present condition because of presence of the foreign powers. The security pattern of any region is affected by the security pattern of powers. Competition between the great powers tends to increase the existing regional competitions in the security pattern of the Persian Gulf.
Some experts of the Persian Gulf affairs including Kenneth Polak believe that Arab states of the Persian Gulf have passed significant steps in order to develop some of their capabilities during the last decade. For example, they have extended their relations with the USA and the other western militaristic powers to create their armies.
But the existence of a sum – zero game and the adoption of political realism approach has created the mind set that empowerment of any one these states will create potential threat against others in this security complex. This issue has created some kind of security dilemma in the region.
Even we can say that the dominant realist logic among Persian Gulf states is a kind of offensive realism in which the states are following their purpose of achieving to maximum power to fulfil their maximum security. It means, even defensive realist logic in which states don’t adopt offensive approach and react in condition of feeling threat, this reaction also usually is in the level of balance and preventing the source of threat and is not dominant on the behavior of the Persian Gulf states.
Now, the level of security has been decreased because of the increase in militaristic power the Persian Gulf States. In such condition, there is the probability of war between Iran with Saudi Arabia and Saudi Arabia against UAE, Bahrain, and Egypt. So, how could we design a kind of security framework which could prevent war in short term and will lead to establish regional coordination in the region for long term? In fact, dialogue between the states of the region and passing into some level that fulfils the security of the region by the Persian Gulf states and non-intervention. Mohammad Javad Zarif, the Iranian Minister of Foreign Affairs declared Iran’s will to end the current crisis and challenges of the region on June 13 during his news conference in Oslo. He emphasized on significance of having dialogue and finding needed solutions to resolve the current regional challenges and issues. Zarif emphasized on having a comprehensive sustainable mechanism for consultation, negotiation and resolving challenges as the maximum significant issue in the region and declared this fact that idea of just negotiating on the current issue between the neighbors is not enough. The Iranian FM pointed to Helsinki Agreement (1975) as an instance for such sustainable agreement. According to Zarif, Helsinki Agreement was succeed to decrease amount of existing challenges and disagreement between the sides on the era of cold war.
In fact, he talked about a security framework that could be able to ensure the regional security for long-term. But how could such mechanism be created? To answers this question, it is necessary to take a look at the existing security mechanisms in the region. Many of these mechanisms like GCC which was created following Iran – Iraq war on 1981 were not successful in long term. Because it could not perform a militaristic alliance by ink of a common defensive treaty between the members. We can point to the current challenges between Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain and Qatar and the disability of GCC and its manifest to resolve the happened challenges between the members.
ASEAN is another pattern for coordination between the Persian Gulf states. But we have to consider this fact that the mentioned treaty has not been successful in achievement of development in security issues. One of the reasons on this issues backs to existing demographic heterogeneity among the members of this union. In the other hand, this organization has focused on economic issue since 1976 and Bali conference.
OSCE is another recommended pattern to use in Persian Gulf region. We have to mind that the focus of this pattern also is on state security and the external threat against it.
In the other hand this model is inattentive to internal changes and human security or political changes while according to the Arab Sprit issues and consequences, the Arab states just could talk about a comprehensive security framework if they focus on the issue of Human Security.
One of the other patterns for security framework of the Persian Gulf is CESE. This model is a useful and suitable one for security coordination between the Persian Gulf states.
In fact, the Helsinki Treaty (1975) led to establish of CESE and then, OSCE in its next stage. Helsinki Treaty was the beginner for a process of gathering NATO and Warsaw member states beside of non-aligned European states in one place in order to talk about their worries without any precondition.
OSCE which was created on the base of respect to sovereignty, non-use of force, respect to the political borders and territorial integrity, peaceful resolving challenges and non-intervention in each other internal affairs prepared this ability for the member states to seat around a table and talk about their security concerns to each other.
We have to mention that the idea of hegemonic security by a power (domestic or foreign) under the goal of having control and ordering a region has been proposed since the era of colonialism in the region and also the modern idea of collective security between the independent states of the region is a new subject which has been appeared in the political literature of the region.
The Persian Gulf region needs architecture of a comprehensive and extensive order by non-participation of the infra-regional powers in such order. Also the security structure of such security order has to be based on the cooperation of all member states of the region.
That’s why decision making in mega scale in security coordination has to be attended. If we supposed to take the pattern of CSCE, it is necessary to hold some meetings with security agenda and all sides can declare their security, threat concerns and recommend their solutions to decrease such threats. All the sides could create special committees to negotiate with each other on the probable solutions. Finally, some actions have to be performed by one side or all, to build confidence symmetric or non-symmetric. The member states could use these committees to resolve their differences and decrease of challenges or crisis. In the final stage, when they could achieve mutual confidences between the members, then could ink memorandums relating arm control. This helps security and settlement in the region fundamentally.
The consequence of this action could ends to creation of a temporary or permanent organization which puts clear or by case agendas in their program.
In this framework, members have to achieve this concept that no issue or problem is resolvable by war, and nobody is allowed to interfere in the other one’s domestic affairs. The mentioned security framework has to be based on Barry Buzan’s “security complex” model and its concerns has to be focused on the security issues of the Persian Gulf and the members are not allowed to use this mechanism for the non-related security issues to the Persian Gulf.
The mentioned framework has to be inclusive consisting Iran, Iraq and the GCC member states. It is clear that any other framework which separate one or some of these states has not been successful. The experience of Damascus Declaration (6+2 Treaty) and GCC have demonstrated this fact that achievement of a comprehensive security framework in the Persian Gulf is just possible if all the member states in this region accept it. It is very idealistic view that we ask all US regional allies in the region to stop their security and militaristic relations with Washington. This issue will be right just building confidence is enough and there has to be no regional threat.
Having a similar pattern like CSCE in the Persian Gulf is not a threat but such designation will be a great way for having a safe Persian gulf if all the sides accept it.
This order has to call war illegitimate – like Karl Deutsch’s “Pluralistic Security Community” theory which contains various state with ruling governments but no one use war in its relations and there is no place even for probable war in their relations.
There is some hope that dialogue between the states in the region will develop to a level that fulfils the security of the region by the Persian Gulf states and secures the non-intervention of foreign powers. In his news conference on June 13 in Oslo, Mohammad Javad Zarif, the Iranian Minister of Foreign Affairs declared Iran’s will to end the current crisis and challenge the region. He emphasized the significance of having dialogue and finding needed solutions to resolve the current regional challenges and issues. Zarif emphasized that having a comprehensive sustainable mechanism for consultation, negotiation and resolving challenges as the maximum significant issue in the region and declared this fact that idea of just negotiating on the current issue between the neighbors is not enough. The Iranian FM pointed to the Helsinki Agreement (1975) as an instance for such sustainable agreement. According to Zarif, the Helsinki Agreement has succeeded to decrease amount of existing challenges and disagreement between the sides on the era of cold war.
* Mohammad Ghaderi, Editor-in-Chief of Tehran Times newspaper