Making Persian Gulf Security Durable (Ramazani)

FYI, here’s a recently published short essay by R.K. Ramazani, as I mentioned in discussions here several days ago.
Seeking to go beyond the immediate details of the recent UK-Iran dispute, Ramazani has three main objectives:
1. Provide historical context for understanding why bilateral conflict resolution in the Persian Gulf rests on fleeting sand. Bilateralism, unilateralism, and power balancing as approaches to maintaining Persian Gulf security have all broken down – and will inherently falter again:

“As long as Britain and America approach Gulf disputes by such means as playing regional powers against each other, by bullying tactics, by calls for regime change and by the threats of military strikes against Iran, there is little hope that Persian Gulf conflicts will ever be prevented in the future or that durable solutions can be found for the present ones, including the British-Iranian dispute today. As a result, the secure export of Gulf oil supplies to world markets will be threatened and the price of oil will soar beyond the capacity of the world economy to tolerate.

2. “Collective Security” is the only sustainable alternative.

“The real question, therefore, is whether Britain and the United States will be able to shake off their addiction to using force and embrace a comprehensive collective security system that would include the Persian Gulf states and major outside powers with high stakes in the region, including Britain and the United States, under the auspices of the United Nations.”
Short of that, Iran, as the major Persian Gulf state, will continue to resist British and American pressures. Its resistance to foreign bullying and pressures is rooted in a millennial and proud sense of glory and power in ancient times, in a deep-rooted sense of national identity and in a resentment of discrimination against the Shia, who are, today and in history, a minority in the larger Muslim world, by the Sunni majority.”

3. Security for the Persian Gulf also requires a “holistic” recognition that “the problems of the Persian Gulf are intertwined with the major conflicts of the broader Middle East and beyond.” Put differently, resolving conflicts in the Persian Gulf are incomplete without attending to conflict causes in the Eastern Mediterranean. That holds true both ways.

Each of these three points draws from core themes in Ramazani’s 55 years of scholarship here at The University of Virginia.

1. If one wants a history of border disputes in the Persian Gulf, start with Ramazani’s many books on Iranian foreign policy history (going back to 1500), on the Strait of Hormuz, on the Gulf Cooperation Council, etc.
2. Ramazani has repeatedly made the case for a “hybrid” collective security regime for the Persian Gulf in various articles since at least 1989. “Hybrid” refers to his attempt to meld the sensitivities of local states with a recognition of the percieived “vital interests” of the wider world in the Persian Gulf. That’s why his collective security proposals have consiously endeavored to insure active Great Power involvement.
3. Ramazani has been making the case for a “holistic” approach to Middle East conflict resolution since at least 1978. (see a slender FPRA book entitled, “Beyond the Arab-Israeli Settlement: New Directions for US Policy). At the time, the book was dismissed by some as “revisionist.” While the interconnectedness of Middle East conflicts may seem obvious today, the suggestion will still be resisted by those who will not wish to see their favorite “cause” linked to trouble elsewhere in the region.

Note to self: in putting this quick note together, it dawns on me that we need to get more of Professor Ramazani’s contributions onto the web! (including some of the key articles I’ve just mentioned)

2 thoughts on “Making Persian Gulf Security Durable (Ramazani)”

  1. Boundary lines need to be drawn in the Gulf. What happened with Iran and UK should have never happened! As long as the world depends on oil in the Persian Gulf, there will be trouble. The next hotspot: Iran, definitely.

  2. What a reasoned and reasonable article. I wish I had heard of this R.K. Ramazani before.
    Thank you for introducing me.

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