Will the security initiative work in Middle East?

A boy rides a camel at the place of Elephant Rock in AlUla, Saudi Arabia, Nov 5, 2021. (PHOTO / XINHUA)

The Global Security Initiative proposed by President Xi Jinping demonstrates China's sense of responsibility to safeguard global security by eliminating the root causes of international conflicts, improve global security governance, encourage joint international efforts to bring more stability and certainty to a volatile and changing era, and promote durable peace and development in the world.

Xi's proposal at a time when many parts of the world are witnessing conflicts, confrontations and disputes shows his serious approach to eliminating the root causes of global and regional conflicts, and promoting peace and development around the world.

The GSI welcomes and looks forward to the participation of all parties to jointly enrich its substance and actively explore new forms and areas of cooperation for the benefit of all. Therefore, the realization of this initiative, or at least the realization of a large part of it, will contribute to reducing wars and conflicts, and help create a climate of confidence in international action among all parties.

China's proposal to establish cooperation with all parties by conducting bilateral and multilateral security operations with all countries and regional and international organizations within the framework of the GSI is a very positive move.

China has the capability to perform this role, as it is the world's second-largest economy, biggest trading partner of more than 120 countries, has grown in national strength and is one of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council. It also has good relations and economic and strategic partnerships with many countries (big and small) and organizations in Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Latin America — all of which make it capable of expanding its global presence and helping safeguard global security.

China's plan is to help implement the initiative by using its diplomatic cards to first play a more active political role in the Middle East. Accordingly, on March 10, 2023, Beijing succeeded in bringing about a rapprochement between Saudi Arabia and Iran. The two Middle East countries have agreed to resume diplomatic relations, reopen their embassies within two months, activate important bilateral agreements that had been put on hold for seven years, and vowed to respect the sovereignty of and never interfere in the internal affairs of other countries.

The rapprochement comes after years of hostility that threatened the security and stability in the Middle East, and contributed to fueling conflicts in many parts of the region, especially in Yemen, Syria, Lebanon and Palestine.

China's efforts to broker peace between Saudi Arabia and Iran reflect the country's willingness to expand bilateral and multilateral security cooperation with all countries, and regional and international organizations within the framework of the GSI.

But this will not be enough to achieve all the goals of the initiative. So the rest of the concerned parties, from major countries to international and regional organizations and blocs such as the UN, the European Union, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the League of Arab States, the African Union, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, should attach greater importance to China's cooperation-based security initiative, as they face both traditional and nontraditional security challenges, which can be overcome only with joint global action.

The GSI can help safeguard security and restore lasting peace not only in the Middle East but also in other hot spot regions. As such, the initiative is for global public good, and in the interest of all parties. But we must not forget that the initiative clashes with an international reality of contradictory interests and different political visions, especially among the major states.

Despite all this, the enthusiasm and optimism China has generated by playing a pioneering role in mediating peace between Saudi Arabia and Iran and indicating it may try to do the same in other parts of the Middle East should raise hopes that the region may see joint, cooperative and sustainable security. So, is there a chance?

The author is a professor at the Department of International Affairs, Qatar University.

The views don't necessarily reflect those of China Daily.