Arab States Need to Match Iran’s Call for New Security Arrangements

Arab States Need to Match Iran’s Call for New Security ArrangementsArab States Need to Match Iran’s Call for New Security Arrangements

A senior Arab political analyst believes Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif’s proposal for moving towards new security arrangements in the Middle East is an important gesture that should be taken more seriously by Arab states.

“If few Arab officials believe Zarif’s words, perhaps they would react more positively to actions that create an opening for serious diplomatic engagement. An Arab official of equal stature could respond to Zarif with words of equal magnitude, mentioning precisely and honestly the issues that concern the Arab world,” Rami G. Khouri wrote for Agence Global.

A serious mediation effort could move them both towards a credible negotiating process, initial tension-reduction steps, and ultimately long-term moves towards genuine non-aggression and a region that spends hundreds of billions of dollars on improving human well-being and protecting our fragile environment, he said.

In an article published by the Financial Times in January, Zarif proposed a new regional security arrangement, titled “security networking”, as the only way to eliminate reliance on extra-regional powers and promote security in the region because it accepts differences rather than ignoring conflicts of interests.

Elaborating on the idea, Zarif said “security networking” is a model where all big and small regional states would participate on the basis of the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, including avoiding threat or use of force, non-intervention in the domestic affairs of others and respect for territorial integrity.

He encouraged other countries to double down on their efforts toward creating a “strong region” based on the interests of all countries in the Persian Gulf region and the application of “the win-win rule”.

Khouri said all Arab states “embarrassingly depend on foreign patrons, financiers, protectors and armourers against real and imagined foreign threats,” adding that they simultaneously seek protection in Washington, London, Paris, Moscow and even Tel Aviv.

The analyst, however, says Zarif’s proposal for direct dialogue leading to serious engagements and conflict-reduction measures on key issues could offer a historic opening towards the happy future he paints of a region in peace and prosperity, “but only if he is serious, and seriousness here is measured by only one criterion: Pursuing policies that match the rhetoric.”

According to Khouri “If Zarif wants to be taken more seriously in the Arab region, he might consider unilaterally taking one or two measures on his list of de-escalation actions.”

This could entice Arab states to take notice, and perhaps to follow suit. This could happen via backdoor contacts with Arab leaders, to facilitate negotiations and their suggestions for initial confidence-building measures that would reciprocate Zarif’s list, he concluded.


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