Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says the military presence of the United States in the Persian Gulf has brought about disaster for regional countries and helped foment extremism.
Zarif made the remarks while addressing the Doha Forum in the Qatari capital on Sunday, where he said, “The disparities in power, geographic size, natural and human resources and the like among countries in our region have led to disastrous conclusions.”
“Some global actors look at these disparities and the unending rivalries in the region as an opportunity: indeed, as providing a fertile ground to expand their military presence and to sell more weapons to nearly all sides in the region,” Iran’s foreign minister said.
He added that the presence of foreign forces in the region has failed to foster security and “only led to disasters, from the downing of an Iranian civil airliner by USS Vincennes in 1988 to the rise in extremism as a natural consequence of the US presence in Iraq and Afghanistan—an outcome we had predicted as early as 2001.”
Slamming Washington’s policy of selling more arms to the Persian Gulf countries, which has led to an arms race in the region, Iran’s top diplomat said, “As for weapons trade, the Persian Gulf states accounted for nearly one quarter of global arms imports during 2014-18, almost doubling on average compared to the preceding five years. Unsurprisingly, the United States sold most of these lethal arms.”
Zarif also took some regional countries to task for adopting unwise policies, saying, “And most in this region, enjoying the abundance of wealth brought by petrodollars, believe that everything can be bought. Certainly, arms – including the most sophisticated ones—can be purchased in abundance.”
He then explained Iran’s policy vis-à-vis the ongoing crises in the Persian Gulf region, saying, “The recent proposal of President [Hassan] Rouhani to launch the Hormuz Peace Endeavor—or HOPE—is a continuation of our longstanding commitment to an inclusive and comprehensive regional framework for constructive engagement.”
In an address to the 74th session of the UN General Assembly on September 25, President Rouhani invited all countries that are affected by developments in the Persian Gulf to join the country’s initiative for the security of the strategic region.
He said that the “Coalition of HOPE” aims to promote peace, stability, progress and prosperity of littoral states and help achieve mutual understanding and establish peaceful and friendly relations among them.
Iran’s top diplomat further said “HOPE is based on the recognition of the responsibility of every state in the region to ensure peace, stability and prosperity in our neighborhood and benefit from it.”
“It is based on the assumption that the region and the world have a common and vital interest in maintaining freedom of navigation and energy security for all.”
Noting that “we in Iran believe that a new regional approach should be the outcome of collective deliberations,” Zarif concluded his remarks by saying, “We have an opportunity before us to finally and decisively change course, for the betterment of not just our own lives but also those of future generations. We must seize it, and with vigor.”