TEHRAN – A professor of political science at Beni Suef University says Iran is the only Asian player that can help China to contain the U.S. in West Asia.“There is a Chinese conviction that Iran is the only Asian power militarily and geographically suitable to help China find a balance with the United States in the Middle East (West Asia), and to play the role of security guarantor of China’s economic and vital interests,” Nadia Helmy tells the Tehran Times.
“China has begun to adopt the approach of ‘increasing presence in the Middle East (West Asian) issues’ with the transformation of its policy to be a ‘central player’ in the affairs of the region, which represents a challenge to U.S. influence,” Helmy remarks.
She notes that the “alliance between China, Russia, and Iran in the face of the United States is getting stronger and more solid on the impact of a ‘new cold war’ between the West and China or the West and the East.”
Following is the text of the interview:
Q: How do you see Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed’s visit to Syria? What are its implications?
A: To answer this question, it is necessary to verify and respond to number of inquiries and some other different analyses, such as:
A) The UAE’s motives for taking such a step of rapprochement with Syria, through the visit of the UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed to Damascus on November 9 and the meeting with Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad.
B) Rather, will this Emirati step encourage the rest of the Arab countries to follow its footsteps and open up to the Syrian regime?
C) What is the fate of the Syrian opposition to the Emirati-Syrian rapprochement, and is this UAE move aimed at weakening the Syrian opposition track, especially the Syrians opposing the regime of President Bashar Al-Assad abroad?
D) Then, it will remain to analyze the Syrian opposition’s options if more Arab countries open up to Al-Assad’s government.
E) Will there be a Syrian-Emirati consensus towards the step of solving the return of Syrian refugees from abroad and the settlement of their situation with the current Syrian regime?
F) Finally, the question arises, regarding the impact of the intensity of American and international criticism of the UAE’s step of rapprochement with the Syrian regime and President Bashar Al-Assad on the completion of the remaining Arab steps seeking to integrate and return to Syria once more to its membership in the League of Arab States)?
G) In fact, the most dangerous and important analysis for me remains completely analytical, namely: What was raised about the fact that the UAE obtained the green light from the United States of America itself and from the Israeli side before the visit of the UAE Foreign Minister Bin Zayed to the Emirates, in pursuit of forming UAE-Israeli alliance against Iran, and seeking to neutralize the Syrian regime in the face of these Iranian moves as a closely related ally of the Iranians? Accordingly, we can analyze that, as follows:
1. Perhaps what reinforces and supports my recent view regarding the Israeli (Persian) Gulf mobilization with the help of the UAE and Washington’s support to confront Iran through Syria is the joint security coordination between Israel and the Emirati and Bahraini naval forces to conduct joint naval manoeuvres in the Red Sea, which lasted for five full days, which began on Wednesday, November 10, 2021, which comes at the same time as the UAE rapprochement with Syria, meaning:
2. As I mentioned, the joint naval manoeuvres between Israel and the UAE at the same time as the UAE visit confirms the continuation of joint security coordination between Israel and the UAE, especially to curb and limit Iranian influence. Knowing that the step of joint security coordination between the Emirates and Israel began three years ago, when the naval forces of the (Persian) Gulf states, mainly the UAE and Bahrain, began conducting joint naval manoeuvres with the Israeli side, which were the first for them ever with their Israeli counterpart, in cooperation with the forces of the United States of America’s Navy.
3. We find that the current joint naval manoeuvres in the Red Sea with the participation of the UAE and Israel, with the participation of warships from the Emirates, Bahrain, and Israel, in addition to the United States of America, is a “joint Israeli-Gulf assertion” to send a message to the Iranian side, that these naval manoeuvres with Israel, aims to:
4. This was confirmed by the U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, in an official statement, to confirm that:
“The Israeli, Emirati, and Bahraini training aims to enhance the ability to work collectively among the forces participating in the manoeuvres.”
5. From here, we understand that the step of joint Israeli-Emirati security coordination, and the consequent step of the joint naval manoeuvres, came after the signing of the Abraham Accords in September 2020 and the normalization of their relations with Israel by the UAE and Bahrain. Since then, it has strengthened the diplomatic, military, and intelligence relations between Israel, the UAE and Bahrain, as the two most important (Persian) Gulf countries that share Tel Aviv’s concerns about Iran’s activities in the Red Sea and the region.
6. The most prominent here, is the visit of the head of the Israeli intelligence service Mossad in a public visit to Bahrain at the time of the joint naval manoeuvres with Israel in the Red Sea, with the commander of the UAE Air Force heading at the same time also on a first-of-its-kind visit to Israel in October 2021.
7. In general, the reopening of Emirati and Bahraini embassies in Damascus in December 2018 was considered at that time as a major change in the (Persian) Gulf policy towards Syria, and it was among the first indications of a more comprehensive normalization. There is no doubt that these steps came after consulting Saudi Arabia. However, it seems that Saudi Arabia, as usual, is taking a cautious and secretive attitude towards the move of rapprochement with Syria due to its fear of the Al-Assad government’s relations with Tehran.
8. The most important analytical question for me is whether Abu Dhabi has completely severed its relations with Damascus at all, given the continued presence of prominent Syrian figures loyal to Damascus living and working in the Emirates.
9. In general, this continuous stream of signals emanating from Damascus and other Arab capitals, led by the Emirates for rapprochement with Syria, indicates that the former opponents of the Syrian government have come close to reaching mutually beneficial arrangements with the Syrian government, some of which pledged a few years ago to drop it.
10. The most important gains for the Syrian government from that rapprochement with the UAE and the rest of the Arab countries will be reconstruction contracts for Syria and energy deals, in addition to the markets that will be opened to it if they reconcile with the Arab countries, which may later pave the way for “inclusion of Damascus again and returning its membership in the League of Arab States”, which is, of course, the most important strategic step for the UAE and the (Persian) Gulf states to help Syria to return back to the “Arab House”, and consequently put pressure on it not to have cordial ties with Iran, as it is a rival opponent for the UAE and the (Persian) Gulf states.
In this context, the Syrian capital, Damascus is now hoping for influential Arab voices to exert international pressure in order to lift the severe sanctions imposed on the Syrian regime, which aims to punish Syrian officials and Syrian organizations for their alleged involvement in human rights violations.
The reopening of Emirati and Bahraini embassies in Damascus in December 2018 was considered a major change in policy towards Syria Q: Do you predict Syria would get out of the isolation imposed by Arab states of the Persian Gulf?
A: We find that throughout the years of the Syrian war there were a number of indications of secret cooperation between some Arab governments in secret with the government of President Bashar al-Assad, and accusations were also levelled indicating the involvement of other governments in supporting and arming Syrian opposition groups against the Syrian regime, especially the (Persian) Gulf countries that sought to revenge against the regime of President Bashar Al-Assad for Syria’s close alliance with Iran. Here we can analyze and understand the following:
1. The UAE rapprochement with Syria comes as part of a (Persian) Gulf strategy called “the almost certain regional rehabilitation of Bashar Al-Assad.” Here, we find that the speed of the train of Arab and (Persian) Gulf normalization, mainly with Syria, has increased significantly, and what is deeper than that can be analyzed by confirming that a number of Arab governments have not completely severed their ties with Damascus since the beginning of the events in Syria.
2. The state of Jordan is currently considered one of the most prominent of those Arab countries that exert pressure for normalization with Damascus as Jordan’s neighbor in terms of its northern borders, where recent indications are that the Kingdom of Jordan is on the verge of restoring full relations with Syria. In fact, it is possible to analyze the reasons for the start of the Jordanian capital, Amman, as a close ally of the United States of America, to open the way for Washington’s other allies in the (Persian) Gulf region to rapprochement with Syria, in order to neutralize the Syrian government and exert subsequent pressure on the Iranian side to accept the American conditions in the Iranian nuclear file.
3. On the other hand, Lebanon needs the Syrian energy networks to help alleviate the fuel crisis that has paralyzed Beirut. We can as well identify Syria’s situation in the strategy of supplying Lebanon with fuel as a result of the current Lebanese fuel crisis has an important analytical aspect, especially after Jordan’s approval on October 6, 2021, to send the surplus of Jordan’s electric power to Lebanon through the Syrian network, which indicates the American flexibility.
4. However, there are fears from a number of Lebanese political forces and of an increase in Iranian and Syrian influence in Lebanon, especially after Hezbollah’s move to bring Iranian fuel into Lebanon through Syria. Likewise, the public positions of the Lebanese government not to visit or normalize relations with Syria without the blessing of the international community, stressing Lebanon’s desire to distance itself from conflicts in the region.
5. We find here the support of the Lebanese Shia movements for President Bashar Al-Assad. In particular, the Iran-backed Hezbollah movement is the main supporter of rapprochement with Syria, especially with the role of Hezbollah forces along with the Russian air force, in changing the course of the civil war in favor of Bashar Al-Assad inside Syria. The political bureau of the Amal Movement in Lebanon, the other main Shia party in Lebanon, renewed its calls for strengthening relations with Syria in an official statement on October 4, 2021. On the other hand, there are other Lebanese political forces that have remained staunchly opposed to what the other side calls “Syrian and Iranian interference” in the country’s affairs.
6. Here, we find that this new shift in the UAE’s (Persian) Gulf position for rapprochement with Syria is due to the visit of Jordanian monarch King Abdullah to the United States of America in July 2021. He will remain in office, and then the international community will have to deal with him one way or another.
7. From my analytical point of view, according to objective indicators, King Abdullah has obtained permission from the United States of America to resume Jordan’s commercial ties and relations with Syria, so that Jordan is excluded from the sanctions regime that targets any country that has commercial transactions with Damascus, which is known as Caesar’s Law. A series of talks between Syrian and Jordanian officials in September 2021 led to the reopening of the Jaber-Naseeb border crossing, and also opened the door to negotiations on October 3, 2021, related to trade, energy and agriculture, moving from mere economic ties to fully resuming political relations between Jordan and Syria. This is in line with the desire of Amman to return Damascus to the Arab League before the next Arab summit, which may be held in 2022.
8. Here, too, the indicators point to the agreement (Jordan and Egypt with Syria) to start rehabilitating and operating the Arab Gas Pipeline to export Egyptian gas to Lebanon via Jordan and Syria, and then to Europe via Turkey, which is mainly for the benefit of reviving the Egyptian economy, and thus encouraging Egypt to rapprochement with Damascus for economic interests. As well as the meeting of the Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, with his Syrian counterpart Faisal Miqdad, in September 2021, during his participation in the meetings of the United Nations General Assembly, and his declaration after that of his support for the return of Syria as an active party in the Arab framework. Also, the geopolitical considerations for the Egyptian side, driven by the network of economic interests, and Egypt’s desire to play a role in profitable deals for the reconstruction of Syria may be an important factor for Egypt to rapprochement with Damascus.
9. As a scholar, I have reached an important analysis here, which can be monitored through the desire of a number of Arab countries to maintain the government of Bashar Al-Assad as another military force in opposition to the Arab revolutions or what is known as the revolutions of the Arab Spring, may also stand behind the efforts of a number of Arab countries to normalize with the side Syrian.
10. As for Iraq, the Iraqi side has openly opposed the isolation of Syria and has repeatedly declared that it supports its return to the Arab League. Iraq did not sever its ties with Syria, and in 2011 Iraq abstained from voting on a decision to expel Syria from the Arab league, and Iraq kept its embassy in Damascus throughout the war. We find as well that the Iraqi government coordinated with President Bashar al-Assad in cross-border operations against the Islamic State, or what is known as ISIS. There are still several Iraqi militias backed by Iran on the Syrian-Iraqi border, and some are also inside Syrian territory in the context of efforts led by Iran to put pressure on the American forces there, to support Assad and to keep transport corridors open.
11. The benefits of the Syrian-Emirati rapprochement come through what the UAE Ministry of Economy announced that “it has agreed to strengthen economic cooperation and explore new horizons with Syria”. A few weeks after the meeting between the Emirates ministers and his Syrian counterpart in Dubai to discuss the issue of the reconstruction of Syria, Emirates officials stated that they hoped the situation in Syria would return “to what it was before the crisis” that erupted in 2011.
12. In March 2021, both the UAE and Saudi Arabia demanded the return of Syria to the Arab fold. Coordination is currently underway on new horizons for Emirates and (Persian) Gulf cooperation with Syria, especially in vital sectors, in order to enhance investment partnerships.
13. We find the most prominent indicators of Saudi rapprochement with Syria, represented in the visit of the Syrian Minister of Tourism to Saudi Arabia in May 2021, which is the first visit of a Syrian government official to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia since 2011. At about the same time, the director of Saudi intelligence met his Syrian counterpart in Damascus.
14. However, one of the challenges facing Riyadh is the strong opposition within the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to the pro-Iranian Baathist government of Damascus. We find the position of the Saudi media strongly opposing the Assad government, with the Saudi criticism directed against the Syrian government’s actions against the Sunni majority. Knowing that this Saudi orientation was reciprocated with the Syrian government, with previous accusations from the official Syrian media outlets loyal to President Bashar Al-Assad for criticizing what they described as an active Saudi and Qatari role in provoking sectarian strife and fueling the civil war in Syria.
15. But on the other hand, the Syrian-Arab consensus on a number of issues by following the pragmatic method in solving political and economic issues is enough to guarantee its return to the Arab League, including consensus with President Bashar Al-Assad on a number of issues, foremost of which are: Syria’s steps to form a stable government agreed upon by various political forces, including the political opposition, attempts to return Syrian refugees from abroad, the urgent need for Syrian fuel for the Lebanese.
Here, in my personal analytical viewpoint and analysis of the reality, all of the above points have become important indicators to push officials in a number of Arab countries to try to reach political understandings with their Syrian counterparts and be more openly with the dialogue.
Q: Recently China and Russia have expressed a desire to play a more active role in West Asia. Do you think China extends its influence to Syria alongside Russia to curb U.S. presence in the region?
A: China realizes the Syrian’s need for it, and thus relies on it to achieve its political and economic goals in the Levant region, including the accumulation of regional influence at the expense of the United States of America. Accordingly, China can achieve its goals in the Middle East (West Asia) through Syria, through:
1. China seeks to create opportunities for its companies and investments in order to participate in the reconstruction in Syria, and the Chinese Special Envoy to Syria Shi Xiaoyan, affirming that:
“China is confident that it will form part of the reconstruction process after the end of the war in Syria, and Chinese has a long-term goal of expanding its economic power and establishing military bases in the region”
2. Here, we find that at the international and regional political level, Syrian geography is one of the fields of international scramble between China, Russia and Iran, in the face of the West led alliance by the United States of America. Given its proximity to all spheres of influence in the Middle East (West Asia). Here, we find that Syria’s distinguished geopolitical position has reinforced the increasing presence of China in the Middle East (West Asia) as a strategic goal for Beijing’s sphere of influence. Here, Beijing views Assad’s government as a factor of stability facing the expansion of religious extremism.
3. In addition, the increase in Chinese tensions with the United States, due to Washington’s creation of defense and economic alliances directed against China in the heart of its areas of influence, such as: the Quad Alliance and the Aukus Defense Alliance, was an urgent motive for China to be near the areas of American influence in the region. Therefore, China sought to integrate the Syrian government with the Belt and Road initiative, and tried to take advantage of the urgent reconstruction needs in Damascus, to establish a Chinese foothold in the heart of the Levant, and to strengthen its influence in the Middle East (West Asia) through Syria.
4. China’s arrival in the Syrian ports of Tartus and Latakia, overlooking the Mediterranean), is an attractive opportunity for the Chinese “Belt and Road initiative”, to link the Eurasia region with Syria and its extensions to the People’s Republic of China. Thus, it will be completed by Beijing’s foothold in the Greek port of Piraeus and Israeli ports, such as: “Haifa and Ashdod”, and this link highlights Syria’s position on the Silk Road, according to the Chinese vision. Therefore, Syria was included in a large number of railways that China is building in the region.
5. Here, it is expected that China will move more to benefit from the American withdrawal from Syria, as part of Beijing’s greater efforts to expand its presence in the (Persian) Gulf and Middle East (West Asia) regions. China has also become more willing to access the region’s markets and the shores of the Mediterranean close to the Syrian border, with the aim of consolidating its economic project for the Belt and Road, by promoting Chinese investments and delivering them to the world.
6. China and Russia were also keen to create international political consensus in Syria, through their efforts made at the United Nations to protect the government of President Bashar Al-Assad, and to confront Western and American influence in the region. We find here that the Chinese actions come partly within the framework of a cover for its broader Middle Eastern (West Asian) ambitions, and the Chinese presence in Syria can be analyzed by identifying the main goal of China regarding its desire to obtain a military foothold in Syria, despite Washington’s knowledge of the Chinese plan. But, it didn’t seek a real confrontation with Chinese influence.
7. This brings us to an important point, which is arms sales to expand Chinese influence, considering that the Middle East (West Asia) is a region of “intensive competition” between the great powers, at a time when the United States of America is trying to adjust its position in the region, and perhaps change its strategy and reduce its presence as well, that I have announced before, so both Russia and China tried to take advantage of the vacuum behind the gradual U.S. withdrawal from Syria.
8. In the context of the new Russian-Chinese security and defense strategy in Syria, and here Russia began launching a campaign of harassment against the American and Western forces affiliated with the “international coalition” in Syria, with a long-term goal that leads to the expulsion of the United States from Syria. Skirmishes increased with the American side to force it to withdraw gradually from Syria, especially with the Russian forces stopping the American military convoy in north-eastern Syria, and returning it to its place of departure, considering that it violated the “disengagement” agreement, an agreement concluded by Russia and the United States of America, since the beginning of the conflict and their operations in Syria in 2015, the aim of which is to prevent any accidents between the forces of the two countries, but the “U.S. Pentagon” refused to comment on this incident.
9. We find that Sino-Syrian cooperation extends to joint security and diplomatic fields. China has stood by Syria in the Security Council, and China has not hesitated to use its veto several times with Russia to support the government of President Bashar Al-Assad. Beijing is also coordinating with Damascus in the field of fighting extremism and eliminating terrorism and its extensions inside China in the Xinjiang region, especially after the participation of more than five thousand Uyghur Muslim fighters in the Syrian war alongside ISIS.
10. Here, the Chinese and Russian influence in Syria and the expulsion of the United States of America from it paves the way for activating the Iranian plan to establish a corridor to the Mediterranean through Syrian ports, and emphasizing the importance of this Iranian corridor to the Chinese Silk Road Initiative, especially as it passes through Syria, Iraq, and Iran. Therefore, the Chinese interest in developing the Syrian railways and ports comes as a prelude to linking them with regional neighboring countries, such as Lebanon, Iraq, and Iran, which contributes to reconstruction and economic development).
11. Hence, Beijing and Damascus signed cooperation agreements in several fields, and Chinese investments in Syria find an outlet in Iran’s ports, through the arrival of the “Silk Road” to the Khorramshahr region in Iran, and from here China plans for linking its investments in Iraq and transferring it to Syria and vice versa, then to the rest of the countries in the region and its ports on the Mediterranean or through railway networks and highways that connect everyone.
12. The construction of a railway between Iran, Iraq, and Syria with Chinese support began in November 2018, as part of the reconstruction of the Middle East (West Asia) funded by China and Russia, and eventually linked it to the Syrian port of Latakia, as a hub on the Mediterranean Sea, emphasizing that “the railway system in Iran, it is linked to railways in Central Asia, China, and Russia, and if the Shalamcheh-Basra railway line is built with a length of 32 km, Iraq can transport goods and passengers to Russia and China and vice versa. This line will form the first stage, and the second stage is scheduled to be a 1545 km long railway and a highway to the Syrian port.
13. Therefore, China seeks to be present in Syria’s ports to link it with Chinese maritime influence in general in the Middle East (West Asia) and Mediterranean countries, where China is actually present in three actual ports on the Mediterranean, which are ports: Haifa and Ashkelon in Israel, and Mina Piraeus in Athens, Greece. And here, it should be pointed out that the American pressure is being put on Israel to prevent Beijing from using the port of Haifa. Israel had previously rejected a contract worth one and a half billion dollars offered by China to build a power plant after the United States of America warned its other allies in the Middle East (West Asia) against accepting Chinese investments, so China has chosen the other countries that aren’t aligned with the United States of America to invest in, most notably Syria.
14. China is looking for investment in the Syrian ports of Latakia and Tartus, and is looking for more maritime influence in Syria on the borders of the Mediterranean, after its fears of losing its maritime influence in the Israeli port of Haifa due to American pressure on Israel”. In October 2018, China provided assistance in the form of electric power generators to the Syrian port of Latakia, which indicates its desire to invest there, to ensure a position of maritime influence overlooking the Mediterranean ports. Therefore (China is keen to invest in the ports of Lebanon, especially Beirut, not for its direct financial returns, but to complement the “Silk Road” project, and to secure an outlet for it on the Mediterranean coast, by linking Syrian ports with their Lebanese counterparts.
15. Therefore, China’s regional participation between Iran, Iraq, and Syria on the broader “New Silk Road” is of great importance to link them all together through port and railway networks, especially since Iraq had previously signed a memorandum of understanding in September 2019, to join the “Belt and Road Initiative” as a part of a new oil-for-infrastructure program. This plan includes China’s rebuilding of the war-torn region under a multi-stage program of hard infrastructure, like railways, roads, power and water projects, and soft infrastructure, such as hospitals, schools, cultural centers on the Iraqi side.
16. Also the “Four Seas” strategy, which was first announced by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in 2004, and was sabotaged by the Arab Spring revolutions, has finally returned to work, after 7 countries signed to join it, by 2010. This maritime strategy entails connecting all four major water systems “the Mediterranean / Caspian Sea / Black Sea / Persian Gulf” with each other through railway corridors and infrastructure as a motive for the win-win cooperation of the Syrian, Iraqi, Iranian, and Chinese sides with the countries of the region and the Middle East (West Asia), according to Chinese planning. Once these four seas are connected Syria will become is the main intersection point in investments and transportations in the region.
17. The most important point here is the assertion of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad that the Syrian military, security, political and economic decision has become dependent on the Russians, Iranians, and Chinese, with the Syrian government aspiring to greater interests to gain through a greater strengthening of the Chinese presence in Syria. Therefore, China sought to prove its presence in the Middle East (West Asia) through the Syrian gate and to prove the failure of the U.S.-backed Arab Spring revolutions. Therefore, Chinese economic support has become an outlet for Syria to support it, as well as strengthening the Chinese alliance with both Russia and Iran through Syria.
Based on the previous analysis, we can understand that the reasons for Chinese support when Syrian President “Bashar Al-Assad” assumed the presidency position of the Syrian Republic for a new term in May 2021, at a time when “Bashar Al-Assad” exaggerated the Chinese-Syrian relationship as a way to prove that he is not politically isolated and that he has a number of potential partners to support reconstruction efforts in Syria, with China’s continued efforts since the start of the Syrian crisis in providing various forms of humanitarian aid and financial grants, and China’s support for Syria to confront the Coronavirus pandemic (Covid-19), through medical aid and vaccines against the virus.
Q: What are the characteristics of U.S.-China competition in the Middle East (West Asia)? Is it economic or political-military?
A: China has begun to adopt the approach of “increasing presence in the Middle East (West Asian) issues” with the transformation of its policy to be a “central player” in the affairs of the region, which represents a challenge to U.S. influence. Here, we find that the alliance between China, Russia and Iran in the face of the United States is getting stronger and more solid on the impact of a “new cold war” between the West and China or the West and the East. This is what Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi indicated by giving clear indications of the intend of his country to play a pivotal role in the affairs of the region, and here we can understand and analyze the most important features of the competition between the United States of America and China, as follows:
1. There is a shift in China’s policy from “avoiding direct collision with American policies or even European policies in general” by managing its relations with the region from collective levels to “managing relations at bilateral levels with individual countries, regardless of their inter-conflicts, or the nature of its ties to American politics”.
2. There is a Chinese conviction that Iran is the only Asian power militarily and geographically suitable to help China find a balance with the United States in the Middle East (West Asia), and to play the role of security guarantor of China’s economic and vital interests. On the other hand, fears are concentrated that(China’s granting of modern civil and military technology to Tehran may constitute an opportunity to make Iran a superior regional power that is difficult to swallow or subjugate in the future.
3. It is expected that the United States of America will gradually withdraw from the Middle East (West Asia), which may prompt countries such as Saudi Arabia to “reconsider their relations with Iran and develop them to the level of partnership with mainly Chinese encouragement”, which is what the Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal Bin Farhan, stated with his frank talk about the chances of launching a dialogue between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Iran, and the possibility of developing relations between them to the level of partnership. The Saudi Foreign Minister demanded that the Iranian side:
“The Iranian side should reduce its country’s regional concerns, which opens the doors not only for rapprochement but even for partnership between Riyadh and Tehran.”
4. The Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement between China and Iran in March 2021 is expected to contribute to expand the areas of influence and extensions of the Belt and Road Initiative to include the (Persian) Gulf region, Iraq and Syria, through which work will be done on transforming Damascus into a major trade center between Iran, Turkey and Iraq, and that is within a future partnership between them, which the United States of America sees as a “threat to its interests and influence in the region of strategic security and economic importance”.
5. China has stood with the Syrian government by using the veto right three times to block any UN resolution in the Syrian issue against the Syrian state and its allies, besides, China has also been working on defending the Syrian regime with its military support, in its desire to weaken the extremist Islamic movements and challenging the terrorist organizations, such as The Islamic State in Syria and Iraq (ISIS), as well as a challenge to the West and Washington”.
6. China’s new activity in the Middle East (West Asia) was not limited to economic hegemony, as Beijing realized that the Middle East (West Asia) as a region rife with political risks it necessitates approaching it, with the presence of strategic caution, which is a hallmark of China’s approach to the Middle East). China has worked hard to rearrange its political cards, and sought to highlight its activities in the Middle East(West Asia) and took steps to mediate in Middle Eastern (West Asian) conflicts, after realizing that these conflicts affect its interests, especially that Chinese policymakers are afraid of the spread of what they call “danger of extremism, terrorism, religious extremism, on top of which is the “terrorist organization ISIS and its recruitment of almost five thousand of Uyghur’s Chinese fighters from “Xinjiang” Muslims in Syria and Iraq”. Therefore, China began to carry out and prepare for counter-terrorism operations in a more expansive way outside the borders of its state for the first time in its strategy and policy.
7. The Chinese policy is characterized by flexibility and pragmatism in managing its relations with the countries of the Middle East (West Asia), so it turned more towards the “diplomatic front”, establishing relations with multilateral institutions, such as the League of Arab States and the China-Gulf Forum, and it also played a security role in The Middle East (West Asia), so Chinese forces participated in the deployment peacekeeping forces in southern Sudan, and China built its first naval base overseas, in the country of Djibouti.
8. The nature of Chinese policies in general and in the Middle East (West Asia) has turned into a more daring policy in defiance of Washington, especially after decades of Chinese reluctance to announce this, and China’s previous acquiescence to the U.S. threat to impose sanctions and withdraw its companies from Iran.
9. We have begun to witness a shift in the “policy of Chinese approaching the Palestinian issue”. It is clear that China is launching a “diplomatic counterattack”, which is not only infiltrating the ranks of the countries allied to the United States but also seeks to “entice the conflicting countries with Washington” in this or that issue, in addition to the formation of a kind of bipolarity with Russia in the face of the United States of America in the countries of the region.
10. China seeks to the policy of combining contradictions in managing its relations with the countries of the region, such as the visit of Chinese Foreign Minister “Wang Yi” to both Riyadh and Tehran together in March 2021, or to continue supporting the government of Bashar Al-Assad, or to establish relations with countries that have different approaches and policies to each other.
11. The global balance of power indicates that the counter-alliance between China, Russia and Iran in the face of U.S. pressure is getting stronger and more solid.
12. We can conclude Iran, in cooperation with China and Russia, has played an important role in Syria, Iraq and Yemen, to achieve a balance against Turkish influence. Russia, backed by China, will lead direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians, which will reinforce the decline and decline in indicators of American influence in the region.
13. There has become an increasing conviction in the region that China will control the United States of America, and that the world will find itself forced to deal with these changes. There are several manifestations that show the weakness of the West, which China can exploit to its advantage, including the deterioration of U.S.-European relations since “Trump assumed the presidency of the United States of America, and Washington abandoned France by adopting the new Aukus defense agreement deal with Britain and Australia. This weakens the idea of a united West, in addition to the state of disintegration in the European Union after Britain’s exit.
14. The Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and Beijing Social Sciences Reference Publishing House entitled “The Yellow Book of the Middle East”, in which Chinese experts believe that:
“The Middle East (West Asia) region has entered the cusp of the ‘post-American era’, where the decline of the American role in the Middle East (West Asia) provided the opportunity for the eastern powers, especially Russia and China, to enhance their influence in this important region, and at the same time the confidence of the countries of the region increased in following their own development methods. The Chinese and Russian model has become the most attractive to the countries of the region.”
15. Another book issued by The Research Institute of West Asia and Africa at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing indicates that: “The balance of power in the Middle East (West Asia) has evolved from unipolarity to bipolarity, and then from bipolarity to multipolarity”. With the countries of the Middle East (West Asia) heading towards a “policy of looking towards the East”, the Asian countries, on their part, took the initiative to “open up to the West” and to develop strategic partnership relations with the countries of the Middle East.
16. Analyses of Chinese think tanks indicate that if the United States of America wants to restore its hegemony over the Middle East (West Asia), it must deter Russian and Chinese actions that challenge American interests in the region, and establish a multilateral regional force that works to deter any external behavior or interference, or at least to create an opportunity for Moscow and Beijing to participate in the Middle East (West Asia) in a way that guarantees their interests.
Through our referred analysis, China has increased its economic, political and military influence in the Middle East (West Asia). China’s economic hegemony policy has succeeded in order to enhance its access to energy sources in the region, especially with the growing ambition of Beijing to become a great power that affects the international political system, whether this is achieved through political alliances with Middle Eastern countries or international powers or even through the diplomatic force to dislodge the United States America as a major external power in the Middle East (West Asia).
Q: Do you think China is able to build a road of alliance from Pakistan to Iran, Syria and Egypt by helping these countries to rebuild their economies?
A: Today, we are in the process of a new Chinese alliance that already exists, which includes: China, Russia, Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, and a candidate and is open to the inclusion of other countries that have great economic interests with China through the “Chinese Belt and Road Initiative”, and we can analyze the form of the Chinese new alliance with Russian, analyzing the foundations on which it is based, as follows:
1. This new Sino-Russian alliance constitutes a real nucleus for the formation of a strong new Warsaw Pact led by China that is economically and militarily supported, in the face of the military NATO’S alliance led by Washington. And thus establishing a new chapter in the centers of power globally. Therefore, the U.S. strategy issued by the U.S. National Security Document can be summarized as the Sino-Russian alliance is a red line and a threat to the security of the United States of America, and shakes its influence around the world.
2. Hence the visit of the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to Beijing in March 2021, for a period of two days, for joint security coordination to establish a Russian-Chinese alliance, which includes a number of countries allied to both sides, especially with the increasing American pressures that pushed the Russian and Chinese sides to more rapprochement with planning for a deeper strategic context between
the two sides.
3. And here, we find that there is an alliance already existing between China, Iran and Russia, which seeks to make a coalition at the United Nations to confront U.S. sanctions and set fair standards for the use of force. A number of other founding members of the United Nations joined the Russian-Chinese alliance, namely: Algeria, Angola, Belarus, Bolivia, Cambodia, Cuba, Eritrea, Laos, Nicaragua, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Syria and Venezuela. All of them are allies of China and Russia and have strong military, economic and political relations with them.
4. Indications point out that China, Russia, North Korea and Iran), as well as some other countries seek to mobilize support for an alliance to defend the Charter of the United Nations, by addressing the use or threat of use of force, and unilateral sanctions, especially those American sanctions imposed on certain countries away from the international community and international legitimacy.
5. These new Russian-Chinese efforts with the participation of 16 countries – in addition to Palestine – come to establish this group at the United Nations, in the face of the “multilateral approach” of the U.S. administration of President Joe Biden with its allies to confront Chinese and Russian influence, in abandoning the unilateral approach that he was following the former President Donald Trump, who was focused on the “America First” policy.
6. Here, Beijing seeks to enhance its global influence from within and at the heart of the United Nations itself, in a real challenge to the traditional American leadership. China and Russia have already begun to form a group within the United Nations, called the “Group of Friends in Defenders of the Charter of the United Nations”, sending a message to the international community, in which it affirms that:
7. The growing capabilities of China and Russia and the development of their relationship affect the shape and nature of the current international system, and the role of the United States specifically in issues of global security, financial security and the economic system, and from here it appears the possibility of new radical transformations in the form of the new international system led by an alliance between China and Russia in the structure of the international system.
8. We can predict, at the near and medium level, that the upward path of Russian-Chinese relations to continue in the face of growing the American pressures towards more rapprochement, and the mobilization of a lot of the “friends and allies front”, and it is expected that the current Democrat administration of President Joe Biden will do the same. Especially after Washington has signed the “Quad Quartet agreement and Aukus new defense and security alliance”, where the initial policies and statements issued by the Biden’s administration showed that it places on top of its priorities continuing pressure on China and Russia and trying to influence the relationship between them and reduce the front of their allies.
9. From here, the features of the new world order has begun to become clear little by little with the withdrawal of the United States of America from the places where its forces were stationed around the world, a new policy began that relies on the policy of old alliances, and suddenly the “Aukus Alliance” appeared, which brings together the United States of America With Britain and Australia, and here it seems that the new Aukus defense alliance will be an alternative to the American military bases, which are the military bases that are currently deployed in every part of the world at the present time for more than 750 American military bases around the world, and the American alliance with the signing of the “Aukus Agreement”. It also comes as part of the Five Eyes Intelligence Alliance, which was formed at the end of World War II, and includes the USA, Australia, Britain, Canada and New Zealand).
10. The last expected form of the alliance of China in Europe remains, whereas France and Germany forming an alliance with China in the face of American policies, by following the policy of heading east towards the Sino-Russian alliance, in search of their economic interests, and political and geostrategic benefits.
11. From here, the Chinese strategy is going well, through China’s success in circumventing Washington’s strangling of trade corridors in the Malacca Strait and the South China Sea, by China’s establishment of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, which provided another window for China and its ally Russia with the help of Iran on the Arabian Sea and the ocean India, which ensured the smooth flow of oil supplies from the (Persian) Gulf and the Suez Canal through pipelines up to Xinjiang in northwest China and then distributed to other Chinese provinces.
12. It has become clear to the eye that the United States is no longer able to fund its imperial ambitions to expand around the world, and accordingly Washington is withdrawing and reducing its influence and presence in its old areas of influence Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia and the (Persian) Gulf states.
13. As we know, the United States of America can no longer open many fronts of war or establish more military bases around the world, so the American withdrawal from Afghanistan came as important news for taxpayers in the USA, who prefer that tax money go which they pay to be spent on the American interior borders rather than outside of its abroad, such as the construction, modernization and maintenance of hospitals, schools, roads, etc., and this means the transformation of the United States of America and its decline from a superpower to an important country only.
Hence, it appears in the light of these new changes in the global power equations, the emergence of new alliances that include Russia and China, in conjunction with other friendly and ally countries in the Middle East (West Asia), Latin America, the Caribbean and Asia, and other countries in the world, in order to confront the network of American alliances, with the aim of encircling and curbing that American power with its alliances to harm the interests of developing, Islamic and Arab countries.
Original News : https://www.tehrantimes.com/news/467239/Iran-is-only-Asian-power-that-can-help-China-to-balance-U-S