London 29th May 2019
On 28th May in Paris, Tactics Institute for Security and Counter Terrorism hosted the event Instability and distrust in the Gulf region: How to rebuild trust?
The working breakfast took place at at the Salon Pourpe at the Palais du Luxembourg and was led by Senator Jean-Marie Bockel, former minister and president of the France-Gulf friendship group in the Senate. Tactics Institute hosted the event jointly, with the Institute for European Perspective and Security (l’IPSE), chaired by Emmanuel Dupuy, co-organised. The keynote speaker was Professor Joseph Bahout, non-resident fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (Middle East Program, Washington) and concluded with several proposals aimed at reaffirming the need to avoid military escalation in the Persian Gulf and the Middle East region.
Among the personalities attending were several current and former parliamentarians, including Philippe Folliot, member of Parliament representing Tarn; Aymeri de Montesquiou, honorary Senator representing Gers; Frederic de Saint-Sernin, former minister; Patricia Lalonde, member of the European Parliament and Michel Scarbonchi, a former member of the European Parliament.
Tactics Institute believes parliamentary diplomacy can play a key role in the mediation and facilitation of peace and stability in the Middle East.
The Paris event brought together some sixty guests, including university experts, diplomats, journalists and community leaders and emphasised the important role of France in the Middle East-North Africa region.
Renewed tension in the Persian Gulf, specifically around the Strait of Hormuz, poses a major risk of conflict between Iran, the United States and several members of the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf (former GCC), and requires careful consideration of all the aspects of the strained relations in the region. There is a particular need to take into account the agendas of regional and international powers.
The discussion, held under Chatham House rules, centred on the dynamics of conflict in the Gulf, an evolving cluster of relations dating back to the late 1970s when several events signalled a new era in the region’s politics, notably the Iranian revolution, the taking of Mecca, the Afghan conflict and the civil war in Lebanon.
More recently, tension in the region has intensified around the crystallization of the hostility of some Arab states towards Iran. This reality, stoked by the Trump administration’s economic sanctions and military threats towards Tehran, could trigger a conflict involving the countries of both shores of the Persian Gulf.
Discussion on the current context also included the coalition of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Egypt that has been actively confronting Qatar since June 2017; Saudi measures to preserve the status quo, most famously with the Khashoggi case; the Saudi-UAE-led assault on the region’s poorest country, Yemen; the ongoing war in Syria and the failure to secure a viable and acceptable two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict. All of these developments have highlighted the increasing significance of peripheral actors in the Middle East.
Given the level of threat, an alternative framework of dialogue and a non-aggression pact between Iran, Saudi Arabia and their neighbours is urgently needed.
The tensions in the broader region were also explained by the different approaches towards Iran from Western states. The key actor is, of course, the US, where a bellicose stance towards Iran indicates a desire by the Trump administration for re balancing power in the Middle East in the favour of American allies.
This meeting of experts at the French Senate was also an opportunity to confirm expectations vis-à-vis a more active French and European foreign policy, which need to take far more coherent approaches to securing peace.
Tactics Institute for Security and Counter Terrorism is an independent, non-partisan, think tank. Tactics researches terrorism to identify its causes and best possible remedies, always bearing in mind the protection of individual liberties and the human rights of all those affected.
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