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Tue. October 15, 2019
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International Affairs Forum

Around the World, Across the Political Spectrum

It is Time for A Gulf Area Peace Conference

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By Jack Pearce

A few weeks ago this publication issued a suggestion for a Persian Gulf area peace conference,  outlining the attendees and the results to be sought in it. The link follows at the end of this article.

At that time, this was a sort of thought experiment. Now there is concrete and immediate reason to proceed along these or similar lines.

Missiles have been fired. International oil supplies have been impacted. Actors in the area, the Houthis of Yemen, claim responsibility.  They are subjected to armed hostilities by another actor in the area, Saudi Arabia. The houthis can call this an act of retaliatory war, and also a sort of plea for assistance and relief.

The American Secretary of State claims Iran underlies this action. Iran denies this, but were it to admit a role, Iran could well claim cause in being subject to extreme duress by reason of the United States withdrawal from an international agreement opening access to the world for it, and rigid United States sanctions denying much if not most of that access.

The President of the United States has stated that he does not wish to go to war in the Middle East. Though his words are often questioned, there is every reason to give credence to this statement at this time. Another Middle East war would be very unwelcome in the United States, especially with a presidential election looming a year away. Many could and surely would claim that his own actions set the stage for this crisis.

No one outside the moving parties in the strikes in Saudi Arabia knows when and how another oil supply threatening action may occur.  A repeat may very well evoke a counterstrike of some sort. For example, the United States can easily identify likely sources of launch for  missiles or drones, and strike them.

It would be wise, were the United States to become so involved, for it to make the case for doing so before the United Nations. Oil supplies do in fact affect all nations, immediately and acutely. In making any such presentation, it would also be wise for this or any other actor involved in this matter, such as Saudi Arabia, to propose some form of action to forestall future violence in the Gulf area.

That cataclysm forestalling action could be a peace conference of the sort recently proposed here. The entities making the proposal would have their own suggestions, and the United Nations processes could determine the format and the objectives to be sought.

If this would be a proper, and perhaps a necessary, procedure at the time of any subsequent threat to oil supplies in the Persian Gulf, there is reason not to await that eventuality. This week’s event foretells what is plainly inherent in the situation in the Persian Gulf. No national entity need admit complicity in this week’s attack. No national or sectarian entity need seek other than workable arrangements for peace in place of conflict and bloodshed already extant, and now looming in larger dimension before us. 

Jack Pearce has served as Assistant Chief of United States Justice Department’s Antitrust Division's ‘Public Counsel and Legislative’ Section, Assistant General Counsel of Agency for International Development with responsibilities in Near East, South Asia sector, National Insititute of Public Affairs fellowship at Cornell, Deputy General Counsel, White House Office of Consumer Affairs, law practice relating to pro-competitive regulatory reform, and innovator of virtual office system for attorneys and others.

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