Does the Gulf need a moment in Helsinki?
In his speech to the UN General Assembly last month, King Salman outlined the principles of Saudi Arabia’s foreign policy and hoped for some progress in the ongoing Saudi-Iran talks, most recently on September 21, the day before the king’s speech.
King Salman said that as a founding member of the UN, Saudi Arabia is committed to the principles and goals of the organization, including world peace and security, peaceful settlement of disputes, respect for the sovereignty and independence of states, and interference in their internal affairs. The king described Iran as a neighbor and expressed the hope that the preliminary talks between the two countries would produce concrete results that would “build trust and pave the way for our peoples’ efforts to build a partnership based on a commitment to international principles ”. law and UN resolutions, respect for sovereignty, interference in internal affairs and the cessation of support for terrorist groups and sectarian forces. “
King Salman also called for multilateral cooperation to combat the struggle for COVID-19, citing Saudi Arabia’s contribution of about $ 800 million during its G20 presidency in 2020, in addition to providing significant humanitarian and development assistance to poor countries. He referred to the UK’s commitment to tackling climate change through a number of green initiatives and helping the global economic recovery by striving for oil market stability. Referring to Iran’s nuclear program, King Salman stressed Saudi Arabia’s support for the principle of non-proliferation of all weapons of mass destruction and international efforts to ensure that Iran’s program does not lead to the development of nuclear weapons.
In contrast, Iranian President Ebrahim Rais’s statements at the UN were largely diatribe against the United States. Despite the Biden administration’s mediation efforts against Iran, Raisi was ashamed. More importantly, his speech largely lacked a real commitment to UN principles or international law in general. He said Iran’s policy was to “preserve stability and national sovereignty for all states in the region,” but only in the context of Iran’s role in Iraq and Syria, with particular reference to the work of Qassem Soleiman and Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis.
Raisi concluded his speech almost retrospectively, declaring that Iran “in defending the rights and interests of the Iranian people also seeks economic and political cooperation with the world” and added that it seeks “active engagement with all peoples, especially in neighboring countries.”
The Iranian president’s confidence in fiery rhetoric and revolutionary slogans undermined the message of peace and reconciliation he would have liked to have delivered during his first UN appearance just weeks after taking office. Raisi stressed the need to make more efforts to bring the region closer to peace, as he played a hard line for the choir at home and carefully avoided commitment to a system based on international law and global rules.
Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan said at a press conference in Riyadh on Sunday that talks with Iran were “still under investigation,” hoping they would form the “basis for resolving unresolved issues between the parties.” try and try to understand it. “Several rounds of negotiations have taken place this year, most recently last month, on the same day that Raisi gave his UN speech. Saudi Arabia has expressed hope that the talks will ease tensions but lower expectations for a major breakthrough. Given the recent harsh rhetoric of Raisi and other Iranian officials, the region would prefer to condemn the President of Iran on the basis of the actions of its government.
Since taking power in August, there have been significant accelerations in Yemen, Iraq and Lebanon. In Yemen, for example, Iran-backed screams are seeking a military solution, attacking population centers and camps with internally displaced people with ballistic missiles and drones, wreaking havoc and pushing the country to the brink of a humanitarian gap.
The victorious rhetoric has also been raised, and its aim may be to get all the hopes for a successful negotiation in Saudi Iran. One prominent Iranian army commander said Iran has created “six armies outside its borders that work for it”. According to Major General Gholam Ali Rashid, Commander of the Khatam Al-Anbiya Army, the main task of these armies is to defend Tehran from attacks. In a statement issued last month by the official Mehr news agency, he called them Lebanon’s Hzbollah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Palestine, Assad forces in Syria, popular Iraqi mobilization units and Houthi militia in Yemen.
Some of these groups may be surprised at the suggestion that their main task is to defend Iran. The Hamas leader publicly disagreed with the proposal, but others may fear conflict with the general.
Earlier reconciliation attempts were derailed with statements similar to those of Rashid. It may just be bad timing that his comments hit the Saudi talks, but the statement has also been able to be counted accurately to derail them.
Given how difficult the problems that separate the shores of the Gulf are are, it is to be expected that even a small success can provoke negative reactions from some actors. In order to refuse the unspoken, it may be necessary to attach these preliminary discussions to some clear, agreed guiding principles. In correspondence with Iran during the Rouhani Presidency, the GCC sought to build this consensus. King Salman’s remarks to the UN could also be seen as the basis for a common understanding when he mentioned the principles of UN sovereignty and inviolability of borders.
King Salman lays the foundation for principles that can guide Saudi negotiations.
Dr. Abdel Aziz Aluwaisheg
The Soviet-Western Helsinki process succeeded in the 1970s, albeit in part and slowly, as the parties agreed and accepted a set of parameters that are largely derived from the UN Charter. Its Declaration sets out 10 such principles, including sovereign equality, non-intimidation or use of force, inviolability of borders and territorial integrity of states, peaceful settlement of disputes, interference in internal affairs and fulfillment of obligations in good faith ’.
Another set of ideas agreed in the Helsinki process promised economic, scientific and technological cooperation, the facilitation of business relations and industrial cooperation, and the interconnection of transport networks.
King Salman’s UN speech provides a similar set of political and economic anchors for the exploratory talks in Saudi Iran and the commitment of the Gulf Cooperation Council and Iran in general.
- Abdel Aziz Aluwaisheg is the GCC’s Deputy Secretary General for Political Affairs and Negotiations and a columnist for Arab News. The views expressed in this section are personal and do not necessarily represent the views of the GCC. Twitter: @abuhamad1
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this section are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Arab News.