Iran’s regional peace initiative faces major challenges

Al-Monitor | : The Omani minister responsible for foreign affairs, Yusuf bin Alawi, visited Tehran on Dec. 2-3 on an unexpected trip. He held meetings with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and President Hassan Rouhani. While officials have published no details about these meetings, the Hormuz Peace Endeavor (HOPE) initiative was suggested to have been one of the subjects discussed during the visit. Also, tensions between Iran and the United States are expected to have been among the topics that the Omani official discussed during his visit.

The following is an examination of the HOPE initiative. It was first introduced by Rouhani during his attendance at the UN General Assembly’s annual meeting. The plan, as Zarif elaborated on it later, suggests building a regional security arrangement “through intra-regional dialogue.” Since the plan’s proposal is based on a large number of international principles, discussing all of them would require a lengthy discussion, but some of its inherent difficulties could be listed in two main categories, one theoretical and the other practical.

First, theoretically, a regional security arrangement such as what HOPE suggests is a myth. None of the regional security agendas in the postwar era (if not before) have worked without the presence of a great power, either as a resident actor, such as in North America, or as an intervening power, such as in Southeast Asia or Eastern Europe. In both unipolar and bipolar international systems, it has been the great powers — actors with an unrivaled share of relative capabilities and the ability to power project all over the world — that have been the security providers and no regional security agenda has existed without their intervention in one way or another.

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