BRANDON J. WEICHERT | THE WEICHERT REPORT
The Gatestone Institute is aptly reporting that Iran’s flailing government has basically signed over their country to Chinese dominance for the next 25 years. According to the report by Majid Rafizadeh, the deal is reminiscent of the old colonial agreements that the former British Empire would broach with territories it conquered in the Middle East and Africa.
In fact, this agreement is eerily similar to the various agreements that China has imposed upon various eastern African states that they’ve thusly ensnared in hopeless debt traps.
Here is Rafizadeh’s incisive analysis:
The 25-year secret deal, which looks like a colonial agreement, grants China significant rights over the nation’s resources. Leaked information reveals that one of its terms is that China will be investing nearly $400 billion in Iran’s oil, gas and petrochemicals industries. In return, China will get priority to bid on any new project in Iran that is linked to these sectors. China will also receive a 12% discount and it can delay payments by up to two years. China will also be able to pay in any currency it chooses. It is also estimated that, in total, China will receive discounts of nearly 32%.
Another secret element of the agreement has a military dimension: China will deploy 5,000 members of its security forces on the ground in Iran. These concessions are unprecedented in the history of the Islamic Republic. The deal is a clear win for China; the $400 billion will be invested over 25 years, which is a small amount for the second-largest economy in the world. China will also have full authority over Iran’s islands, gain access to Iran’s oil at a highly discounted rate and increase its influence and presence in almost every sector of Iranian industry, including telecommunications, energy, ports, railways, and banking. China, incidentally, is the world’s largest importer of oil.
This reminds me also of how the dying Austro-Hungarian Empire in the run-up to the First World War had essentially entrapped the more dynamic, though ambitious, German Empire into committing endless resources to better defend itself from the forces arrayed against the dying Hapsburg dynasty.
While a disconcerting development, though, we must look at what’s happening objectively.
Such a move by Beijing and Tehran is not the work of strong, independent states coming together to dominate their part of the world.
Instead, it represents two parts of a quadrupedal entity seeking to coalesce and rebuff the overwhelming potency of the Americans. In essence, these powers (the other two being Russia and North Korea) are entirely manageable by the United States alone. They are weak on their own. But, if by some chance, these forces could combine into a viable condominium, then a nightmare of Mackinderian proportions will have been realized. And that is what every strategist in the West should fear: these disparate, otherwise manageable Eurasian forces cobbling together an effective alliance to wrest control of the most populated, most resource-rich region of the world the “world-island” known as Eurasia.
Last winter, the navies of Iran, China, and Russia conducted their first ever naval exercises in the Gulf of Oman. This was the first attempt by these three powers to operate in concert militarily. On land, the Russian and Iranian militaries have been buttressing Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria. While there have been some fits-and-starts between the two sides, it is clear that Russia will continue to backstop Iran. Now, China is joining the game.
Presently, Iran is on its knees.
American sanctions have hobbled the regime; the constant shadow war being waged upon Tehran by the United States, Israel, and the Sunni Arab states (as led by Saudi Arabia) has been severely detrimental to the long-term survival of the regime in Iran. Meanwhile, the outbreak of the novel coronavirus from Wuhan, China has crippled Iranian society at a time when the people were already raging against the regime there. Iran has gotten more aggressive, not less, on the international stage as it has become more isolated.
For its part, China needs access to Iranian oil supplies. What’s more, they need to rebuff American efforts at containment of their expansion in the South and East China Seas and, quite possibly, Taiwan. It is possible that Beijing’s desperate strategists, who are under severe pressure from the Western allies and are seeking to stop the disunion spreading along the periphery of their country while resisting the COVID pandemic, believe that by linking their cause to Iran’s they will complicate American designs.
At a time when Washington is poised to slap down Iran for its ongoing perfidy, Washington is taking on a similar tone (rightly) with Beijing. It would appear that the Chinese are interested in linking their cause to Iran’s. The mullahs who rule Iran with iron fists have ceded control of the highly valuable, oil-rich islands that they control to the Chinese. This benefits China by allowing their firms direct access to the rich oil of Iran. But it also grants China geopolitical power: American strategic plans for punishing Iran involve surging US forces to take the various outlying islands of Iran, to deprive Iran of money gained through harvesting the oil on those islands.
Now, however, the Chinese have control and direct access to those valuable islands meaning that any American escalation against those islands will result in potentially harming Chinese interests and citizens–which is an escalation that Washington is unlikely prepared to initiate at this point, regardless of how nasty the rhetoric is between Beijing and Washington.
Plus, any misdirection of US forces into the Middle East is a direct benefit for China, which plans on annexing as much of the South and East China Seas as it can. By diverting American attention and resources to Iran, the Chinese are depriving regional powers of the Indo-Pacific the anchor of resistance: the US military, which is no longer able to wage a two-front war (and whose populace would most likely be opposed to waging a two-front war after the disastrous showings in Iraq and Afghanistan).
Should the Americans be deprived of their quasi-war option to take Iran’s outlying oil-rich islands, then the kinetic option against Iran is entirely off-the-table (since it is unlikely that, short of a direct attack on the US, the American people will support a full-on kinetic move into Iran). US strategists have long planned to focus solely on depriving Iran of those oil-rich islands in order to further hamstring Iran without conducting an Iraq War redux into Iran. If the Chinese are crawling all over those islands, this plan will be off–meaning we will have to entertain notions of Iranian nukes (a non-starter for any sane person today).
A nuclear Iran will serve Chinese interests by depriving the Americans of any further military action to remove a regime inimical to its interests (and those of its allies) in a resource country. Thus, China has given the mullahs a new lease on life (especially since Chinese security forces will now be deployed to Iran). All of this leads me into the belief that I have long written about at American Greatness that the world is speeding toward another great power war. The forces of the anti-American alliance are coalescing, despite what the “experts” claim. China is leading the pack, with Iran happily joining in.
There is another piece that only Al Jazeera has thus far picked up on: the Himalayan connection. In other words, the long-term strategic disadvantages this move has created for America’s ally of India. As Beijing and New Delhi spar over water rights and control in the Tibetan plateau, Iran’s newest partnership with China effectively ends the Indian foray to build what was supposed to be a highly lucrative rail line between India and Iran. Instead, China has stepped in to replace India–thus reinvigorating China’s ailing Belt-and-Road Initiative (which was Beijing’s big Eurasian-wide infrastructure program to link together the whole region along Chinese dominated maritime and land routes).
Here’s what Abdul Basit had to say:
Iran’s new partnership deal with China is indicative of its drift away from India. And this budding partnership between the two countries is likely to have significant consequences for New Delhi.
The new deal between Beijing and Tehran includes plans for China to develop several ports in Iran, such as the Bandar-e-Jask port which is strategically situated to the east of the Strait of Hormoz. This is significant as it gives Beijing control over one of the seven key maritime chokepoints in the world. This can potentially undermine the US naval dominance in the Middle East, as having a foothold in Bandar-e-Jask would not only allow China to monitor the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet based in Bahrain, but together with a presence in Gwadar and Djibouti ports, it would also augment Chinese presence in the Indian Ocean Region. All this could cause India to lose the leverage its close ties to the US provides against China.
Iran’s inclusion into the BRI framework is also likely to cause India to lose ground against China in Afghanistan. After 9/11, Indian political and economic influence grew in Afghanistan under the US security umbrella. Since the February deal between the US and the Taliban in Doha, however, India’s influence over the country has been shrinking. India was neither part of the US-Taliban deal, nor it has any significant role in the intra-Afghan peace process. After the US withdrawal, India’s influence over the country will minimise further.
Here we have the making of the next world war.
The next pieces of the puzzle will be to see how North Korea and Russia pan out vis-a-vis the United States (and, to a lesser extent, what happens between the West and Turkey and Venezuela). The world battle lines are being drawn. Get ready, the big one is around the corner, I fear.