Afifeh Abedi, in an interview with the website of the Strategic Council on Foreign Relations, regarding Russia’s efforts in the form of an initiative called “Collective Security Program in the Persian Gulf” and updating and presenting this program, which had also been proposed in 2019, said: Russia’s focus on the Persian Gulf and the Middle East is not a new approach, and Moscow’s attempt to gain access to the Persian Gulf and playing role in it has a long history; of course, in the past two decades, such an attention has increased.
Russia’s approach to the Persian Gulf
Saying that the former Soviet Union had strategic interests and allies in the Middle East during the period of rivalry with the United States and tried to use them to balance the US security pillars in the Persian Gulf, she said: Since Mr. Putin took office, Russia has at various times sought to revive its traditional interests in the Persian Gulf and the Middle East.
The expert on Russia affairs, reminding that the dimensions of the “Collective Security Program in the Persian Gulf” have not been announced yet, continued: Russia’s approach to the Persian Gulf should be considered internationally. In the current situation, many analysts believe that the international system is evolving systematically, and Russia, as in the past, according to its political and security doctrines, believes in the formation of a multipolar system and by increasing its influence in neighboring regions tends to be introduced as one of the powers forming the multipolar system.
Explaining Russia’s reasons for playing a role in the Persian Gulf and the importance of the region for it, Abedi added: The Russians have historical and traditional interests in the Persian Gulf and try to expand their market in the region through good relations with the countries of the region and establishing political, military and economic relations and penetrate into one of the most important energy transmission routes.
Referring to the remarks made by a US State Department spokesman who, in assessing Russia’s plan for the Persian Gulf has said, ‘We are ready to cooperate with Moscow in areas where the two sides have common interests, while opposing Russia’s anti-US policies,’ she said: Even US strategists believe that the Middle East and the Persian Gulf are one of the areas where new international powers compete with the United States, and that the United States will not leave the region.
Challenges facing Russian plan
This researcher of the Expediency Council Research Institute meanwhile continued: Russia’s plan for the Persian Gulf, despite all the benefits it can have, faces many challenges. On the one hand, some countries in the region have deep political, ideological and territorial differences, and on the other hand, the security that Russia wants to play a role in shaping it is in conflict with the interests of other actors such as the United States and the Zionist regime and it may face their sabotage against such plan.
Abedi said: Considering such conditions, talking about the implementation of the plan seems idealistic, but nevertheless, the possibility of its success is not completely ruled out. This idea may not achieve all its goals, but it can be formed in the form of a pact such as the “Non-Conflict Pact” that Iran presented during the previous government and achieve some results.
Regarding the extent of overlap between the common interests of Russia and the United States in the Persian Gulf and the possibility of implementing the plan, she stated: Given that this region is one of the areas of competition of powers, there can be no common interests for those two countries, except for some international threats.
The expert on Russia affairs referred to Moscow’s decision to establish an understanding between Iran and Saudi Arabia in the form of a collective security plan for the Persian Gulf, adding: Increase in differences between Iran and Saudi Arabia are always in conflict with Russia’s interests in the region; because it allows the United States, by supporting Saudi Arabia, to create tensions in the region and try to create a balance in its favor through Saudi Arabia. For this reason, Russia has made proposals in previous periods regarding the settlement of disputes between Tehran and Riyadh and mediation between them; but it has not been very successful.
She pointed to the Newsweek report on behind-the-scenes meetings in the presence of Russian experts on the implementation of the plan, and with regard to the possibility of holding talks in this area between Washington and Moscow said: Given the differences between the stated positions and the actions of governments, it should be noted that there are still a number of issues that link the United States to the Middle East, the most important of which is issues related to Israel.
According to Abedi, if we believe in Washington’s will to create a security system among the countries in the region, we must analyze it in line with the combination of traditional and new US policy. Such a policy can be justified by the fact that the United States is willing to normalize the situation and provide relative and indirect security for Israel through a security pact in the Persian Gulf and, consequently, its security implications for the Middle East. Consequently, it will reduce its costs and concerns in the Middle East so that it can focus on new areas of competition with China and its other potential competitors.