Russia Working on Updated Concept for Security in the Persian Gulf, Lavrov Says

Russia first unveiled a ‘Security Concept for the Persian Gulf Region’ in mid-2019, in the aftermath of a series of dangerous and destabilising incidents including tanker seizures, sabotage attacks, and the shoot down of a $200 million US spy drone over Iranian airspace – which nearly prompted Washington to launch strikes into Iran.

Russia is working on an updated concept for security in the Persian Gulf region, and will present it soon, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has announced.

“Our friends are expressing interest in our old initiative on the concept for collective security in the Gulf zone. Right now, taking account of recent events, we are working on an updated version of the concept. We will be ready to share it with interested parties in the very near future,” Lavrov said, speaking to reporters following talks with Bahraini Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani in Moscow on Friday.

The Russian Persian Gulf security concept drafted in 2019 proceeds from the inadmissibility of large-scaled armed confrontation in the strategic region, and calls for collective work to establish a consensus and compromise-based solutions to reduce tensions. It includes the consolidation of a single counter-terrorism coalition, a commitment to adhere to international law and the United Nations Charter, a universal and comprehensive security system for the Gulf area which respects the interests of all regional and other parties, military transparency, arms control, strengthening of a nuclear non-proliferation regime in the Middle East, and other measures.

Syria Consensus

In his remarks Friday, Lavrov said Moscow and Manama has a “mutual understanding” of the joint efforts needed to stabilise the situation in the Middle East and North Africa. Lavrov praised Bahrain’s decision to return its embassy to Damascus, Syria.

Commenting on the security situation in the region as it relates to the threat of terrorism, Lavrov said that in his estimation, the dangers posed by Daesh (ISIS)* have not seriously increased in Iraq and Syria, and reiterated that Russia actively supports both countries’ efforts to liquidate the terrorists.

“We also believe that those countries who declared the ‘fight against terrorism’ to be the reason for their continued illegal presence on Syrian territory -recently, as I understand it, the United States carried out a meeting of the anti-Daesh coalition, must first and foremost engage in the elimination of this threat, and not in the occupation of a major portion of Syrian territory, not to illegally exploit its natural resources,” Lavrov stressed.

The foreign minister also warned that those Syrian Kurdish forces whom the US is pushing toward separatism should understand the dangers of such games.

Afghanistan Danger

Touching on the situation in Afghanistan, Lavrov warned that Daesh appears to be concentrating forces in the country, taking advantage of the breakdown in negotiations for Afghan peace and the US and NATO withdrawal.

Russia is concerned by the concentration of Daesh fighters in northern Afghanistan, Lavrov said, adding that Moscow is carrying out consultations with its Collective Security Treaty Organisation allies to enable them to protect Central Asia against this threat. The foreign minister emphasised that the “irresponsible approach of a number of officials in Kabul” in dragging out negotiations was one of the factors responsible for the Daesh buildup.

“Those in Afghanistan – in its governing organs, who are trying to drag out the [peace] process even further, should think of the consequences of such actions for their homeland,” he warned.

Lavrov also commented on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, saying that only direct negotiations between the parties, with the involvement of the Middle East Quartet (Russia, the UN, the US and the EU) and the Arab League, can resolve the decades-old conflict. “We have not only an interest in this, but also concrete proposals on how to move in this direction,” Lavrov indicated.

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