Persian Gulf new security arrangement

Iran Daily – Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani visited the southern province of Hormuzgan, located along the Persian Gulf northern shores on Wednesday, and during a meeting with the people of Bandar Abbas, the provincial capital, suggested setting up a new security arrangement based on dialogue with the littoral states of the Persian Gulf.

In his speech, he said, ‘Iran is ready to discuss regional security issues with its Persian Gulf Arab neighbors as long as foreign powers are kept out of any potential talks.’

Elsewhere in his remark, he noted, ‘We don’t need foreigners to guarantee the security of our region,’ adding, ‘When it comes to regional security arrangements, we are ready to talk to our neighbors and friends.’

If we take a close look at Persian Gulf region, we realize that two major economic and political developments are underway which have made old security arrangement in the region obsolete and at the same time the creation of a new arrangement to the benefit of all regional countries necessary.

But what are those two political and economic changes?

For nearly seven decades, oil-for-security has been the basis of security arrangement in the Persian Gulf region. Based on this strategy, the Arabian states of the region, including Saudi Arabia as the Number 1 oil exporter in the world, have been meeting the US crude oil needs and the US, in turn, have been providing security in the region.

Now, this equation is changing. The US has been able to increase domestic oil production so that its total oil production, as International Energy Agency (IEA) announced recently, has surpassed 10 million barrels a day since last November.

IEA also announced that the US imports of crude oil have been declined to 4.98 million barrels per day, which is considered a huge progress toward cutting independence on oil imports from the Middle East.

The rising US oil output also implies that Washington has succeeded in meeting its energy security needs remarkably. If we take a look at President Trump’s policy toward energy, we will realize that boosting oil production at home will continue in coming years so that the country will not be too much dependent on oil imports from the Persian Gulf region in 2020.

In fact, the US has made a great progress in curing its illness, which once had been called ‘addicted to oil’ by former US president George W Bush, in his State the Union address in 2006.

Along with this important strategic development, the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council (PGCC), which was established during the height of the US dependency on oil imports from the Middle East, is no longer exists as an integral entity.

The council which was established in 1981, two years after the victory of Islamic Revolution in Iran, is no longer workable. Internal disputes between Saudi Arabia, the top oil exporter in the world and UAE on the one hand and Qatar as the world No.1 LNG exporter on the other hand, on a wide range of issues means that the old security arrangement in the region which established by reliance on non-regional great powers is on the verge of collapse.

Since differences came to surface in June last year, Saudi Arabia and Qatar have chosen two different approaches based on respectively conflict and cooperation in the region.

While in the framework of the old security arrangement, Riyadh has relied on non-regional powers such as the US and Britain for security, it is deeply involved in a three-year catastrophic conflict in Yemen with huge human losses for Yemeni people and huge costs for Riyadh.

On the other hand, Doha has tried to boost commercial and military ties with other Middle Eastern countries including Islamic Republic of Iran and Turkey as a way to boost its security while it has maintained military and trade ties with great powers. It seems Qatari approach has been more functional and has contributed to the creation of a very good political climate in the region based on peaceful relations.

If Qatar, as a small country in the Persian Gulf, is able to contribute to boosting regional security through interaction with other regional countries, why Saudi Arabia, as a great regional power, would not be able to do the same?

Considering these developments, it seems that Iranian president’s proposal on creating a new security arrangement in the Persian Gulf region based on dialogue between regional states is a good idea for the post oil-for-security era and noteworthy to be taken seriously.