Dr. Alireza Kouhkan noted that what is being said by Western politicians in the region as “Persian Gulf Security Plans”, “Oil Tanker Security Plans” or “Energy Security in the Region” or other titles have two aspects; What is really happening in the region is that the US allies are not able to provide their own security and energy flow and shipping independently, which is why they need another side to do so.
He added: “Two options have been seriously discussed by Westerners so far. The first scheme was American and the other European; of course, there was a plan by the Russians that made no progress on the practical scene.
The international development analyst said the US plan has so far been the most favorable and many countries have joined it; during the recent trip by the US secretary of state to the region, the UAE also announced it would join.
Explaining the reason for pursuing such schemes, Kouhkan said in addition to the inability of the countries in the region, there is another important reason. Mr. Trump has explicitly stated several times that due to declining domestic power and the problems it is facing and his efforts to improve the US economy he cannot afford to spend independently in the region or does not want to do so for whatever reason. That is why he is trying to build a coalition and possibly meet the costs through other members. This shift in international relations, as well as the inability of US allies in the region has caused such plans be raised.
The international relations professor about whether these schemes will finally accomplish their goals or are just a matter of psychological pressure, noted: “There are two answers to this question. The first is a diplomatic response, in the sense that we ignore the claims of the Americans, part of which complies with the realities, and then say what the situation in the region looks like. This is how the Europeans act. It is like trying to meet the security of the region without considering why this security has been breached.
“If we keep that in mind, and if the number of countries joining the coalition goes up it may be said that the coalition would be realized on the ground as well. But if we don’t have that outlook and see politics realistically we have to find out basically why these issues that Westerners raise are happening. Why Saudi oil exports are halved; one example is just to examine what happened to Aramco oil field.
Another way is to examine the grounds. For example, that is the war that Saudi Arabia has started in Yemen or the insecurities that are being injected into the region through support for terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda and ISIS, or even the problems that are caused to shipping. When Iranian ships are stopped in international waters, it is natural that the ships of other countries may be seized in the Persian Gulf, or when Iran’s oil exports decline, the oil exports of other countries may drop too. If we go for the second option, which is somewhat more realistic, it should be borne in mind that in the current situation, the balance of power that exists in the Persian Gulf would not be broken by inefficient alliances such as what we see in Yemen and establish the type of security the Westerners have in mind.
He also said about Europe’s cold welcome of the US plan and whether this welcome would increase or decrease in light of the recent developments in the region: “I believe the recent events have made the coalition less serious. As we move further, it is shown that the crisis is becoming graver.
Initially, when the US announced that they are going to deploy troops in the Persian Gulf again, and dispatch of an aircraft carrier which was coupled with big propaganda, although the decision for sending the aircraft carrier had already been taken but the Americans said they had taken the move in line with the international maritime coalition.
Forces from other world countries had joined the US troops in the aircraft carrier. When the carrier got close to our region we witnessed some ships were hit which made the foreign forces in the aircraft carrier to voice their reluctance to carry on arguing that there was not supposed to be any military confrontation.
Kouhkan added: “NATO has been a coalition for more than a hundred years, but has not been involved in any major wars, in wars such as in Afghanistan and Kosovo and the one-sided wars and bombings and then nothing occurred. But this is not real war. For this reason, as tensions increase, countries may say in the political arena that we want a coalition or not; but in the true dimensions of the coalition namely supply of coalition military equipment, countries are much less receptive because there is concern that the coalition may get involved in a military conflict. In that case not just the American soldier or just the Saudi soldier is killed, but everyone in the coalition is killed, and since these things cost a lot the welcome is little.
The analyst also commenting on news reports that Trump had agreed to deploy troops in the Persian Gulf, explained: “The military force Mr. Trump has agreed to deploy is related to a recent Pentagon plan to send more patriot missile systems and defense-focused security forces to the Persian Gulf. This is not a significant change, since the Americans made a ridiculous claim after Aramco was hit. They said the Saudi defense system was aimed at Yemen and that the missiles were fired from above and they had not seen it. But when they released the map of the defense systems, it turned out that there were three main systems deployed in the north, not the south.”
He said: “After that they said the missile had bypassed the defense systems and we want to fill those blind spots now. This is in line with Mr. Trump’s announcement that the Saudis should pay if they want us to help him. The United States appears to be once again deploying defensive systems in the region that proved ineffective in the recent attack.”
Kouhkan added: “This has another dimension, namely we should keep in mind the regional coalition, the planning and maneuvers that take place are all targeted at Iran whether the Americans admit (like US Secretary of State saying that Iran’s military action requires a military response) or do not explicitly mention it. This shows that although there is no potential for war right now, we need to focus more on preparing to defend ourselves and be more serious, a simple example being the costs we incur in defense and security.
“We currently have one of the lowest defense and security spending in the entire region,” the university professor said. “There is only one country in the region that spends less than us, which is smaller than all the provinces of our country. For this reason, it seems that we need to pay attention and make necessary planning.”
Speaking about Europe’s gesture of independence from the United States in pursuit of the US-led Persian Gulf security coalition, he said: “From the European leaders’ point of view showing their independence from the United States matters. It was France that prompted Mr. Trump’s sharp reaction before his previous journey to Paris. But that’s not the whole story and there are two more points. At first, Europe was visibly feeling the dangers of the Persian Gulf threats, but it is now true that the US is using the Persian Gulf oil but does not need it and could have a replacement. But Europe is consuming part of the region’s oil, and threats and any crisis that may occur in the region have a direct and immediate impact on the region’s security. So Europe’s concern is much more serious, and that is probably why they say the coalition should not be anti-Iran and try to engage Iran as well.
“The last point is that the Europeans have been united with the US in the sense that Washington bears the costs of this alliance and the benefits too should go to the US. But what is happening now is that America is asking Europeans to pay for the costs of alliance with Washington. The important question posed by the Europeans is that when they have to pay for their own military equipment, why not take the lead? Why fight under the American flag? So it is also of relevance to the third issue, which is a strategic one and is likely to reveal itself in the future strategic ties between Europe and America.