October 11, 2019

TEHRAN: Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif pitched the Islamic republic’s Gulf security plan to neighbouring nations on Thursday, saying regional security cannot be provided by foreign powers.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani announced the plan at the UN General Assembly last month, calling on Gulf nations including arch-rival Saudi Arabia to join it but without giving details.

In an article published on Thursday in Arabic by Kuwait’s Al Rai daily, Zarif said that the plan, named Hormuz Peace Endeavour, offered the chance of “expansive security” and cooperation between Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain.

Cooperation could include areas such as a regional non-aggression pact, combating terrorism, cybersecurity, energy and freedom of navigation, Zarif said.

“In order to save the region from the edge of ruin, we feel the necessity of realising a new discourse more than ever,” he wrote in the article, a translation of which was provided by his ministry.

“The fate of the people and nations of the Persian Gulf is entwined … either everyone benefits from security in the region or everyone will be deprived of it,” Zarif said.

Tensions have risen in the Gulf since last year when US President Donald Trump unilaterally abandoned a 2015 nuclear deal between major powers and Iran and began reimposing crippling sanctions.

They flared again this May when Iran began reducing its own commitments under the deal and the US deployed military assets to the region. Since then, ships have been attacked, drones downed and oil tankers seized.

In June, Trump called off air strikes against Iran at the last minute after the Islamic republic’s forces shot down a US drone.

Last month, twin attacks on Saudi oil infrastructure, which knocked out half the kingdom’s production, drew accusations of blame against Iran not only from the US but also from its European allies.

Tehran has denied any involvement in the attacks, which were claimed by Iran-backed rebels fighting a Saudi-led coalition in Yemen.

The US has since formed a coalition with its allies Australia, Bahrain, Britain, Saudi Arabia and the UAE to escort commercial shipping in the Gulf.

Tehran has warned that the planned US-led International Maritime Security Construct will only increase instability.

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