“Security dynamics in the Gulf are today impacted by events taking place in the broader region.”
ABU DHABI, May 19 – Regional stability of the Middle East and not simply of the Gulf has emerged as a top priority for the UAE and has become one of the key strategic objectives of its foreign and security policy, experts participating in a discussion here said on Tuesday. According to them, several initiatives and themes of the region’s external action aim to bring about a more stable regional environment and re-establish stability in areas defined by violence, political turmoil, and institutional decay.
“The first one, which has emerged as a key component of the country’s push for regional stability, is the fight against terrorism and the effort to confront extremism in all its forms,” Dr. Kristian Alexander, the Director of International Security & Terrorism Program at TRENDS Research & Advisory, said.
The event, organized by TRENDS Research & Advisory in partnership with the Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC), was live-streamed on the TRENDS YouTube channel and its other social media platforms.
According to Dr. Alexander, a key theme or ingredient for regional stability has been the efforts by the UAE to promote principles and mechanisms required for the establishment of a new, more stable Middle East regional order. “This regional order would be established around several core principles of which one is the need to ensure respect for national sovereignty and an end to interference in the domestic affairs of other countries. This has led to repeated calls to countries in the region, in particular Iran, but also others, to stop meddling or threatening to interfere in other countries’ internal/domestic affairs,” he said.
“The third core principle is related to efforts to build a core of strong, moderate Arab countries that are stable, well-governed and deliver for their people. (Create peaceful coexistence, Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia) and can ensure regional stability. The UAE’s foreign aid policy supports this, and in particular through development assistance – which has become a key component of its efforts to promote economic growth and stability in the region and beyond,” Dr. Alexander said.
Dr. Nikolay Surkov, an Expert at the Russian International Affairs Council and a Senior Researcher for the Center of the Middle East Studies at the Primakov Institute of World Economy and International Relations, highlighted the Russian vision of the security challenges in the Gulf.
“Russia is not trying to challenge the domination of Western countries in the Gulf because there are no financial or military resources for this. Nonetheless, Moscow senses growing interest on behalf of the Gulf countries, which is caused by increased potential for a major conflict and gradual reduction of the US presence. The Kremlin perceives this as a window of opportunity for establishing a closer relationship with the Gulf states,” Surkov said.
Surkov said that the rise in tensions in the Gulf is caused by the incorrect assessment of the capabilities of potential adversaries and deep misjudgment of the opponent’s strategy. “From the Russian perspective, it is quite possible to make the regional confrontation less acute and more predictable. Russia is promoting a new security architecture in the Gulf to reduce tensions and the threat of a direct military confrontation,” he said.
He cited an initiative launched in 2001 when Russia proposed the concept of security in the Arabia Gulf to focus on resolving the Iraqi issue and avoiding another crisis. “In 2007, on the eve of President Putin’s grand tour of the region, the concept was updated with a focus on the tensions around the Iranian nuclear program,” he said.
According to Surkov, one of the main principles of the Russian concept is a step-by-step approach as it did not contain specific recipes and, instead, proposed to arrange an international conference on security and cooperation in the Gulf. “Moscow suggested that the security system in the Gulf should resemble the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). This initiative is based mainly on the experience of the Cold War and the perception that the Gulf is also witnessing a cold war but on a regional scale,” he said.
TRENDS Research & Advisory strives to present an insightful and informed view of global issues and challenges from a strategic perspective. Established in 2014 as an independent research center, TRENDS conducts specialized studies in international relations and political, economic, and social sciences. It undertakes rigorous analyses of current issues and global and regional developments, especially in the Middle East and North Africa.
The Center analyses opportunities and challenges at various levels of the geopolitical spectrum. It evaluates scenarios and prospects to find scientific and objective answers and seeks to influence the decision-making process. TRENDS Research & Advisory aims to champion national and regional causes and build a strong network with research centers, organizations, and institutions worldwide. It also seeks to benefit from the expertise of international research and academic institutions.