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US escalating tensions in the Gulf

Excerpt from briefing by Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova, Moscow, August 1, 2019

We are concerned about the increasing potential for conflict in the Gulf. The developments are indeed moving towards a dangerous point and are fraught with the risk of a major military conflict.

The United States is deliberately making the situation worse partly by organising a pirate seizure of the Iranian tanker in Gibraltar to strengthen the US military presence in the Gulf area under the pretext of “ensuring freedom of navigation.” At the same time, other countries are being dragged into provocative schemes, even those that basically have nothing to do with this region. They are already being organised into some kind of “naval coalition.” This is a favourite device in recent years – instead of building up forces to ensure peace and stability based on international law, they are creating obscure coalitions with vague powers and rights that are not supported by any legitimate authority, that simply pursue the opportunistic interests of a certain group countries. This naval coalition is apparently aimed at exerting pressure on Iran rather than ensuring peace; unfortunately, as we understand it, the United States is playing the leading role here.

As a reminder, before the United States unilaterally withdrew from the agreement that ensured the peaceful nature of the Iranian nuclear programme, shipping and oil traffic through the Strait of Hormuz was smooth and stable. There was no need to form any coalitions to ensure security until the Americans began to artificially escalate tensions.

Washington seems to be looking for a pretext to raise tensions, continue aggressive rhetoric against Iran and propel the conflict toward a more active and hot phase. In so doing, it is guided essentially by its internal political considerations, the next round of the electoral cycle. We regularly voice these concerns, pointing out that it is a vicious policy to put at risk civilians in other countries, as well as their own citizens, including military personnel and civilians, in pursuit of voter support, to manipulate minds, tamper with information and thus influence popularity ratings. America’s allies in all these coalitions had better think twice before letting themselves be dragged into someone else’s game as pawns.

The current crisis makes the need for the development of a coordinated strategic vision for the long-term stabilisation in this region even more relevant. We have been suggesting that we jointly address that matter for many years. In particular, we have developed the Collective Security Concept for the Persian Gulf Region; Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov presented the updated version of this concept during his briefing on July 23.

This initiative is based on strict observance of international law, multilateralism and the equal participation of all regional states without exception. We expect it to be supported.