'Zero hegemony' approach needed to end crisis in Iran-Saudi ties: Middle East Eye

March 9, 2021 - 17:22

TEHRAN - Decades of U.S. intervention and a regional arms race have seen West Asia embroiled in endless crises and this approach needs to end, according to Middle East Eye (MEE).

MEE acknowledged the chaos and insecurity continue to ravage West Asia region and wrote, “Saudi Arabia launched strikes against the Yemeni capital Sanaa this weekend as missiles and drones fired by Yemen's Houthi forces targeted the heart of Saudi Arabia's oil industry on Sunday. Last month an explosion hit an Israeli-owned ship in the Gulf of Oman.”

Pointing to Biden’s policy towards the region, it reminded, “U.S. President Joe Biden ordered airstrikes against facilities in Syria allegedly used by Iranian-backed militia forces, claiming retaliation for a missile attack on a U.S. base in Iraq’s Erbil, which killed a contractor and wounded a soldier.”

While expressing concern over repetition of U.S. failed approaches, it wrote, “Biden’s election to the White House hasn’t alleviated the perilous situation in the Middle East (West Asia).”

It sharply criticized the U.S. strategies towards West Asia and stressed, “The dominant paradigm for ensuring security in the region has long been based on U.S. intervention. In the post-World War II era, [Persian] Gulf states have heavily relied on alliances with the U.S. as an economic and military superpower. During the Cold War, the shah of Iran, perceived as a regional policing figure, sought security through a strong alliance with the U.S.”

Expanded military presence

It reminded that soon after the 1979 [Islamic] revolution and the fall of the shah, the U.S. expanded its military presence in the [Persian] Gulf, and wrote, “Arab Gulf states assumed that by heavily purchasing U.S. arms and bringing their troops to the region, their own security would be ensured. And in part because Iran-U.S. relations have remained hostile, other U.S. allies in the Middle East [West Asia] - such as Saudi Arabia - have been unable to reconcile with Iran.”

“Observing the ruinous turmoil in the Middle East [West Asia] region today - from the destructive U.S.-led invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan to the rise of terrorism, to the medieval sectarian violence of the Islamic State - the assumption that security can be purchased has been severely challenged,” it added. 

MEE explained four possible approaches may be perused to create security in West Asia and said, “But what are the alternative scenarios for regional security, insofar as the U.S., Iran, and Saudi Arabia are concerned? Four possible scenarios can be envisioned.” 

It wrote, “Firstly, there is the traditional, hegemonic approach by the U.S., where it continues to have a military presence in the Middle East [West Asia], and [Persian] Gulf states rely on American troops for security. This approach has been applied in one way or another for seven decades, and as a result, the Middle East [West Asia] is engulfed in myriad crises.”

With regard to the second strategy, it argued, “The second scenario entails the U.S. strategy of ‘pivoting to the East’. This suggests that the U.S. should focus more on the real threats posed by China and Russia. In the event that the U.S. abandons the Middle East [West Asia] region, a vacuum of power would likely be filled by other powers, including Russia and China.” 

Laying a new foundation

“Under the third scenario, an Israeli-led agenda for a so-called ‘Arab NATO’ would replace the U.S. military presence in the region. Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz recently said that Israel intends to develop a ‘special security arrangement’ with Arab allies in the [Persian] Gulf who share common concerns over Iran. But this scenario, promoted by the Trump administration, would most certainly perpetuate tensions - not reduce them,” according to MEE. 

“The fourth scenario, the most conducive to ensuring sustainable peace and security, is a model of collective regional security and cooperation based on 12 principles published by The Guardian,” it wrote. 

Some of these principles include mutual respect, preserving national sovereignty and territorial integrity, non-interference in internal affairs of states, and rejecting sectarianism and the arming of illegal militias in regional states.

MEE expressed hope these principles would minimize the risk of further conflicts in the region and stressed, “Lay the foundations for sustainable peace, cooperation and friendly relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia; and pave the way for a new security paradigm towards collective regional cooperation.”

'Zero hegemony'
Concerning the tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia, it underlined, “While Riyadh and Tehran focus on each other, and smaller [Persian] Gulf countries have cause for concern about the potentially hegemonic tendencies of Saudi Arabia, Iran and Iraq. As such, a regional security system should be based on the “zero hegemony” concept. Fostering dialogue and cooperation among [Persian] Gulf states is necessary for any potential rapprochement.”

Finally, it concluded, “At the same time, one of the biggest challenges to regional peace and security stems from Israel’s longstanding violations of Palestinian rights. One cannot perceive sustainable peace in the Middle East [West Asia] without a fair and just solution to this tragic conflict.”  

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