U.S. internationalises Iran’s unrest – Modern Diplomacy

The ongoing unrest in Iran since mid-September following the death of a Kurdish woman in police custody shows no signs of abating as of now. The unrest has drawn support from all social strata and assumed anti-government overtones. The efficacy of suppressing the unrest is doubtful. Iran is entering a period of turmoil. 
Indeed, the government faces no imminent threat but seems cognisant of the imperative need to address the hijab policy to pacify the protestors. As the protests continue, many women are walking on the streets of cities across Iran, especially in Tehran, without head coverings.
There is a long history of Western countries fuelling public unrest in Iran. Regime change agenda must be there in the western calculus but,  curiously, Washington is also signalling interest in reaching an accommodation with Tehran under certain conditions relating to the regime’s foreign and security policies in the present international milieu. 
Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian stated explicitly on Monday that the US and a number of other Western countries have incited riots, because “one of the US’ objectives was to force Iran to make big concessions at the negotiating table” for the revival of the JCPOA. Amirabdollahian’s remark followed some megaphone diplomacy by Rob Malley, the US special envoy on Iran last weekend.
Speaking in Rome, Malley connected the dots and outlined the linkages in the matrix. He said: “The more Iran represses, the more there will be sanctions; the more there are sanctions, the more Iran feels isolated. The more isolated they feel [isolated], the more they turn to Russia; the more they turn to Russia, the more sanctions there will be, the more the climate deteriorates, the less likely there will be nuclear diplomacy. So it is true right now the vicious cycles are all self-reinforcing. The repression of the protests and Iran’s support for Russia’s war in Ukraine is where our focus is because that is where things are happening, and where we want to make a difference.”
In effect, Malley admitted that the Biden Administration is a stakeholder in the ongoing protests in Iran. Importantly, he also hinted that although Iran has taken a series of fateful decisions that make a full revival of the nuclear deal and a lifting of some economic sanctions a political impossibility for now, the door to diplomacy is not shut if only Iran’s leadership changed course on relations with Russia. 
In further remarks to Bloomberg on Saturday, Malley said that “Right now we can make a difference in trying to deter and disrupt the provision of weapons to Russia and trying to support the fundamental aspirations of the Iranian people.” 
As he put it, Washington now aims to “disrupt, delay, deter and sanction” Iran’s weapon deliveries to Russia, and any supplies of missiles or assistance in the construction of military production facilities in Russia “would be crossing new lines.” 
In sum, Malley has linked the US approach toward Iran’s protests with Tehran’s foreign and security policies in regard of Russia and its war in Ukraine. 
The first signs that the US intelligence was focusing on Iran-Russia military ties — in tandem with its Israeli counterpart, of course —appeared in late July, when the US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan made an allegation during a media briefing at the White House that Iran wanted to sell weapons-capable unmanned aerial vehicles to Moscow. 
Sullivan claimed that Iran was already training Russian personnel in using the drones. Within the week, Sullivan doubled down on that allegation. 
The timing of Sullivan’s disclosure must be noted carefully — coinciding with a visit to Tehran by Russian President Vladimir Putin on July 19. Putin’s talks with the Iranian leadership messaged a strategic polarisation under way between Moscow and Tehran with far-reaching consequences for regional and international politics. 
Putin’s discussions ranged from the ongoing conflicts in Ukraine and Syria to the legality of Western-led sanctions regimes, de-dollarisation, geopolitics of energy, the International North-South Transport Corridor, defence cooperation and so on, anchored on the congruent interests of the two countries on a number of important strategic and normative issues. 
Following up Putin’s discussions, Iran’s armed forces Chief of Staff, General Mohammad Bagheri travelled to Moscow in mid-October. Gen. Bagheri met Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, which signalled that the military relations between the two countries was acquiring an irreversible momentum
A fortnight after Gen. Bagheri’s visit, Russian Security Council secretary Nikolai Patrushev came to Tehran to discuss “various issues of Russian-Iranian cooperation in the field of security, as well as a number of international problems,” according to Interfax news agency. 
Russian state media said Patrushev discussed the situation in Ukraine and measures to combat “Western interference” in both countries’ internal affairs with his Iranian security counterpart Ali Shamkhani. Patrushev also met with Iran’s president Ebrahim Raisi. 
Meanwhile, Washington senses that there is disharmony within the Iranian establishment on how to handle the protests, and, in turn, this is sharpening the internal Iranian debate about the wisdom of growing alliance with Russia vis-a-vis re-engaging with the West in a fresh attempt to revive the nuclear deal. 
Clearly, Malley’s remarks hinted that amidst the US’ support for protests in Iran, it still remains open to doing business with Tehran if the latter rolls back its deepening strategic partnership with Moscow and refrains from any involvement in the conflict in Ukraine. 
In fact, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency Rafael Grossi (who holds Washington’s brief) also chipped in with a remark on Monday that the UN watchdog has no evidence that Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapon programme, implying that the resumption of negotiations in Vienna faces no “systemic” block. 
That said, Tehran’s cooperation with Moscow on foreign and security policy policies is of long-term consequence to Iran and there is no question of the Iranian leadership putting all its eggs in the American basket. For Russia, too, the partnership with Iran is of strategic importance in the conditions of multipolarity. 
Significantly, Iranian media has reported that Iran’s nuclear negotiator and deputy foreign minister Ali Bagheri Kani visited Moscow last weekend and met his Russian counterpart Sergei Ryabkov in Moscow to “discuss the prospects of full-scale implementation” of the JCPOA (2015 nuclear deal) “in order to strengthen the approach of multilateralism and confront unilateralism and adhere to the principles contained in the United Nations Charter” as well as the two countries’ “efforts to prevent instrumental political abuse and selective treatment of human rights issues by Western powers.” 
The official news agency IRNA later reported from Tehran quoting Bagheri Kani that the two sides “reviewed bilateral relations over the past months and created frameworks and mechanisms in agreement with each other for developing relations.” He mentioned Syria, South Caucasus and Afghanistan as areas of cooperation between Tehran and Moscow. 
Most certainly, the latest round of Iran-Russia consultations was noted in Washington. On Saturday, the Director of National Intelligence in the Biden Administration Avril Haines held out a veiled threat that while Iranian leaders may not see the protests as a threat now, they could face more unrest because of high inflation and economic uncertainty. She said, “We see some kind of controversies even within them about exactly how to respond — within the government.”
On the other hand, Bagheri Kani’s consultations in Moscow would have taken into account the large-scale US-Israeli air exercises last Tuesday simulating strikes on the Iranian nuclear program. The Israeli military said in a statement that joint flights of four Israeli F-35i Adir stealth fighter jets that accompanied four US F-15 fighter jets through Israel’s skies simulated “an operational scenario and long-distance flights.”
The statement added, “These exercises are a key component of the two militaries’ increasing strategic cooperation in response to shared concerns in the Middle East, particularly those posed by Iran.” 
The US-Israeli exercises underscores the criticality in the situation surrounding Iran. Tehran’s shift to enrichment at 60% causes disquiet in Washington. But a military strike on Iran is fraught with unpredictable consequences not only for West Asian region but also the global oil market, which is facing uncertainties due to the US attempt to put a price cap on Russian oil. 
The bottom line is that the protests in Iran are assuming the proportions of a casus belli. The US has internationalised Iran’s internal upheaval. 
In the backgrounds of Ankara’s opening to Damascus
When Mr. Xi comes to town
The writer has served as Indian diplomat in former Soviet Union, Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan, Turkey etc. He writes mainly on Indian foreign policy and the affairs of the Middle East, Eurasia, Central Asia, South Asia and the Asia-Pacific.
Scoring an own goal: US Middle East policy misses the plank
Nigerian Oil crisis and its implications on businesses
Armenia and Iran combine forces against Azerbaijan
U.S. Asks More Nations to Become Targets of Russian and Chinese Missiles
Impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on global energy situation
Germany amidst Russia-Ukraine conflict: The Dilemma of Energy, Environment and Politics
The Biden administration excels in scoring its own goals, nowhere more so than in the Middle East.
Missed in the hype of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s recent visit to Saudi Arabia is that no part of the world lends itself more than the Middle East to put into practice the administration’s vision of a world in which the United States and China simultaneously cooperate and compete.
Yet, comparing the pomp and circumstance accorded Mr. Xi to the low-key, humbling reception of President Joe Biden when he went on a pilgrimage to Jeddah in July to repair legitimately strained relations with the kingdom demonstrates that US policy is backfiring.
Rather than ensuring a level playing field, US policy creates an opportunity for China.
“China is making a long-term play, both for its own sake, and to stymie and confuse American goals in Eurasia. China’s Middle Eastern arms sales, mooted military bases, and yuan-denominated futures contracts and purchases bring military and financial dimensions to Sino-US competition in the Gulf. The US is not prepared for this challenge,” said scholar Lucille Greer in a just published book.
To be sure, bad blood plays a role in US-Saudi troubles.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman will not forgive Mr. Biden for publicly holding him responsible for the 2018 killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, albeit in word rather than deed, and for the optics of the administration’s harsh verbal response to the kingdom’s refusal to push OPEC+, the cartel of oil-producing countries plus Russia, to increase production.
Even so, the Xi visit, despite long-term Chinese ambitions, was as much about strengthening the Gulf’s hand in demanding clarity on the future US commitment to Gulf security and wanting to formalise arrangements as it was about China capitalising politically and economically on strains in US-Saudi relations.
Gulf security is a Chinese, not just a Gulf interest, with the region meeting more than half of China’s oil and gas needs. In other words, China, unwilling and unable to replace the United States anytime soon, is as interested as Gulf states in ending uncertainty about US reliability as a security guarantor.
Given the personal animosity between Messrs. Bin Salman and Biden, Saudi Arabia has left it primarily to the United Arab Emirates to spell out what the Gulf wants from the United States.
Speaking three weeks before the Chinese leader’s visit, Anwar Gargash, the diplomatic adviser of United Arab Emirates President Mohammed bin Zayed, insisted that “our primary strategic security relationship remains unequivocally with the United States… Yet, it is vital that we find a way to ensure that we can rely on this relationship for decades to come through clear, codified, and unambivalent commitments.”
In response, the United States will have to do more than lay down red lines regarding networks and critical infrastructure like senior Pentagon official Colin Kahl did at a recent security conference in Bahrain.
To bridge the growing trust gap, the United States will have to respond in positive and confidence-inspiring terms to Mr. Gargash’s demand.
Mr. Xi demonstrated his understanding of the efficacy of being attentive to Gulf concerns when he agreed during his visit to a joint statement that stressed the need to “strengthen joint cooperation to ensure the peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program” and for Iran to respect “principles of good neighbourliness.”
The acknowledgement was in line with Chinese policy but served as a reassurance to Saudi Arabia given China’s close relations with Iran.
Saudi Arabia worries about an Iran that potentially is a threshold nuclear power and supports non-state militias in various Middle Eastern countries.
To be sure, the United States has long confronted Iranian ambitions.
Nevertheless, the United States has an interest in being explicit rather than implicit in its response to the demand articulated by Mr. Gargash, even if that may be a political hot potato in Washington.
Since the days of President Barak Obama, the US has fuelled doubts by its talk of a ‘pivot to Asia’ and Mr. Biden’s focus on the Indo-Pacific.
It takes a cursory look at a map to recognise that there is no viable Indo-Pacific strategy that does not include its western flank, the Arabian Sea.
With the Gulf, the United States, and China in fundamental agreement on maintaining the Middle East’s current security architecture, Chinese military sales, nuclear cooperation, and technology, particularly its nuclear, military, and dual-purpose applications, are likely to be major frontlines in regional US-Chinese competition.
That didn’t prevent Huawei Technologies from signing an agreement during Mr. Xi’ visit related to cloud computing, data centres and building high-tech complexes in Saudi cities, despite US warnings that networks and equipment produced by Chinese companies like Huawei
could contain technologies to gather intelligence that are embedded in ways that make them undetectable.
While the US dominates militarily in the competition with China as the Gulf’s primary weapons supplier, it has yet to find an effective way in leveraging its advantage.
To a degree, the US is hobbled by its justified conditions on sales that have stopped it from selling to Saudi Arabia cutting-edge killer drones and ballistic missiles – areas where Chinese weaponry has made inroads in the kingdom.
With good reason, the United States also puts stringent regulatory conditions on its nuclear sales.
Even so, the United States has trump cards it can play.
Beyond the agreement that the United States has a primary role to play and arms sales, it’s the United States rather than China that is helping Saudi Arabia complete an overhaul of its defense and national security architecture, the most radical military reform since the creation of the kingdom in 1932.
The reforms aim to enable the kingdom to defend itself, absorb and utilize US weapons systems, and make meaningful military and defense contributions to regional security, according to political-military analyst and former Pentagon official Bilal Y. Saab.
“Through the vehicle of defense reform, the Biden administration has an opportunity to engage the Saudis on critical national security matters while safeguarding US strategic interests and honouring American values,” Mr. Saab said.
“It’s a wise form of US assistance that isn’t politically controversial, doesn’t cost much US taxpayer money, and doesn’t require a significant US presence on the ground. It is perhaps the only way to reset the currently tense relationship by gradually rebuilding trust between the two sides,” Mr. Saab concluded in a detailed study.
So far, the US assistance has continued uninterrupted despite the strains in the relationship.
However, to put the relationship back on an even keel and secure greater Saudi and Gulf sensitivity to US concerns, the United States will have to find a way to offer Gulf states the clarity and commitment they need in politically feasible ways at home.
That could be easier said than done with an administration that often portrays an increasingly complex world in binary black-and-white terms. 
Like all the previous cases that we have witnessed in the past few years, including Jordan, the UAE, Bahrain, Sudan, Oman and other Arab countries going towards opening up to the regime of Bashar al-Assad, and re-normalizing relations with him, Turkey seeks to follow the same path after a series of meetings with senior security officials on both sides. And some diplomatic contact between the two foreign ministers, up to the political level, represented in a statement by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in which he confirmed the possibility of a meeting with Bashar al-Assad in the context of rearranging relations between Ankara and Damascus.
Despite the unity of purpose in the experiments of opening up to the Assad regime, each of these experiences has its merits and specificities, but all of them, with the exception of the Turkish experience, which has not started yet, have reached almost the same conclusion. Which is that there are no real and serious results in the countries’ relations with the Assad regime, and the reason is one of two. The first lies in the nature of the limited relations between the concerned country and the Assad regime, as in the example of the Kingdom of Bahrain and Oman, which are mostly limited to diplomatic and consular relations, and the reality of the Syrian situation adds another limitation as a result of the circumstances, especially the political and security conditions in which the Assad regime is mired after ten years of war in and around Syria. The second reason is related to factors that prevented the development of some countries’ openness to the Assad regime, as is the case of the UAE and Jordan, Syria’s neighbor on the southern borders. Destroying financial and administrative capabilities, killing, arresting, displacing millions of Syrians, and perpetuating the policy of shabeeh and violating the law to the point where officials are engaged in the manufacture and smuggling of drugs, making it among their basic activities.
Turkey’s journey, which is about to start opening up to the Assad regime, is surrounded more than all of its predecessors with reasons that make it limited in results, if not doomed to failure in the existing circumstances. Because the matter is not related to words and intentions, but rather to facts and data on both sides, which present difficulties facing Turkey in its openness, preventing reaching satisfactory results that are being talked about, unless the difficulties are addressed.
Ankara’s motives for opening up to Damascus are not related to Turkey’s strategy, on which Turkey’s current renaissance was based, by opening up to the surrounding world and eliminating problems with it, which was Turkey’s motive in its reconciliation with Saudi Arabia, the Emirates and Egypt, and it does not lie in the gains that Turkey achieves from the openness in a way that is the background in the relations of countries, as Turkey is one of the countries most aware of the state of the Assad regime in terms of weakness, lack of capabilities, collapse in credibility, and dependence on its protectors, and this makes the trend towards openness linked to pressures and immediate circumstances, which are mixed in internal and external factors. The most prominent in the latter are pressures Russia in order to normalize Turkish relations with the regime in Damascus, which would help Moscow secure its partial withdrawals from Syria in light of the continuation of its war in Ukraine on the one hand, and contribute to preventing Iran’s intrusion and control in Syria, and the Russian pressure in one of its aspects coincides with internal pressures, the essence of which is the demand for an amendment Turkish policies on the Syrian issue, whether in an effort to win more Turkish votes in the upcoming elections in 2023 to secure Erdogan’s victory for a new presidential term, or in terms of satisfying parties in the opposition about the balance of the Turkish position. 
Ironing out Assad after a long bias towards opposing him without tangible results, and mitigating the costs and responsibilities of the Turkish presence in the Syrian file, all of which require changes in Ankara’s positions, in which circles see that openness paves the way for economic expansion towards the Syrian market and through it to neighboring Arab countries, which contributes to addressing some aspects of the current economic and living crisis, and leading to the improvement of socio-economic conditions in Turkey.
As is clear from the background of the opening, there is nothing in it related to the main concern of the Turkish government in the Syrian issue, and there are two main items in it. The issue of the Syrian Democratic Forces “SDF” and the “voluntary” return of refugees to Syria, and if Turkey is proceeding with the issue of returning refugees unilaterally, the second issue requires a different effort, and the participation of parties at multiple levels.  Turkey believes that the Syrian Democratic Forces are “SDF”, in which the Kurds of the Democratic Union Party form the solid nucleus of a “terrorist group”, as Turkey describes them as an extension of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, and it fears their presence in the region, and looks forward to expelling them from its borders with Syria or moving them to a further place. The Assad regime has no ability to influence in the subject; Not only because of the lack of capabilities, but also because of his inability and his Russian and Iranian allies to influence American support for the “SDF”.
And if the opening to Damascus is useless on the issue of “SDF,” and Turkey does not need it on the issue of returning refugees, and is of little use in other areas, then it constitutes a burden on Turkey’s presence in the northwest, which is described as a Turkish-controlled area, which is enshrined in the presence of Turkish forces and allied armed groups. Despite its internal conflicts with the existence of a social and economic incubator that is supportive of the Turkish role in Syria and in its north in particular, it is difficult for Ankara to abandon its presence in the north and its role in the Syrian file merely to open up to a regime that has a strict, closed doctrinal structure with national-sectarian loads, mortgaged, and continuing with the help of forces. An external entity that imposes its control and will over what is left of the state and society in Syria.
Amid the general picture of the backgrounds of the expected Turkish opening to the Assad regime, it can be said that it will not be a natural opening that meets the needs of Turkish general policies, but rather it will be a limited and seasonal openness, responding to pressures, Turkey believes in the need to satisfy its owners in line with its interests in influencing the results of the 2023 elections, and it will maintain Ankara, amid the path of its openness, which will be limited, and the media field may not go beyond its stated policies in northeastern Syria, the least of which is pushing the “SDF” forces away from the borders whose vacuum can be filled through consensus. It supported Turkey’s recent air operation, and it will support the next ground operation, as it supported all operations. The former Turkish government in Syria, amid talk about the Turkish openness to Damascus, and perhaps taking some steps in it.
Pomp and circumstance are important.
So are multiple agreements to be signed during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Saudi Arabia this week, his first venture beyond East and Central Asia in three years.
No doubt, Mr. Xi’s reception will be on par with the welcoming of Donald J. Trump when he headed to Saudi Arabia in 2017 on his first overseas trip as US president. At the same time, it will contrast starkly with the more downbeat response to Joe Biden’s hat-in-hand pilgrimage to the kingdom in July.
Mr. Xi Jinping and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman’s timing is perfect.
The visit allows Gulf states, with Saudi Arabia in the lead, to further diversify their foreign relationships and hedge their bets as the world moves from a unipolar to a bipolar, if not multipolar, order.
In addition, Mr. Xi’s visit boosts the positioning of Mr. Bin Salman and his kingdom as undisputed leaders of the Muslim world.
Like when Mr. Trump was in town five years ago, Mr. Bin Salman has ensured that Mr. Xi’s visit will involve bilateral talks and multilateral gatherings with Gulf and Arab leaders.
Even though Mr. Xi and Gulf leaders project the Chinese president’s visit as a milestone rather than the latest of regular high-level gatherings, neither seeks to fundamentally alter the region’s security architecture with the United States as its guarantor.
On the contrary.
While eager to strengthen and expand relations with China, Gulf states see Mr. Xi’s visit as a vehicle to pressure the United States to spell out and formalize its security commitment to the region at a time when America has made China and the Indo-Pacific its main strategic concern and has not lived up to the region’s expectations.
Speaking three weeks before the Chinese leader’s visit, Anwar Gargash, the diplomatic adviser of United Arab Emirates President Mohammed bin Zayed, insisted that “our primary strategic security relationship remains unequivocally with the United States… Yet, it is vital that we find a way to ensure that we can rely on this relationship for decades to come through clear, codified, and unambivalent commitments.”
Mr. Xi has no problem with that. On the contrary, China is not interested and perhaps incapable of replacing the United States militarily in the Gulf. So while it may want the United States out of East Asia, the same need not be valid for the Middle East.
That allows Mr. Xi and his Saudi and Arab counterparts to focus on the nuts and bolts of their meetings.
High on Mr. Xi’s agenda is the export of its model of authoritarianism, involving one-person rule, a surveillance state, and the ringfencing of the Internet. It’s a model that appeals to men like Mr. Bin Salman and UAE and Egyptian presidents Mr. Bin Zayed and Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi.
The appeal remains, even if Mr. Xi’s proposition has lost some of its shine as a result of his faltering zero-tolerance Covid-19 policy that has slowed economic growth, hindered the country’s private sector that is also hobbled by punitive state interventions, and sparked an anti-government protest that has forced the Chinese leader to abandon core elements of his effort to control the pandemic.
Moreover, Middle Eastern leaders will have noticed that China’s firewall failed to prevent Internet users from discovering that a majority of spectators at World Cup matches in Qatar were unmasked. Nor were Chinese censors able to prevent an avalanche of video clips of nationwide protests against strict Covid-19 rules from flooding the country’s tightly policed social media.
In addition, Gulf efforts to diversify their economies and reduce dependence on fossil fuel exports centre on a free-market economy and a private sector driven by innovation and creativity rather than the kind of state-controlled capitalism envisioned by Mr. Xi.
That has not prevented China from advancing its control and governance systems with investments and partnerships in Middle Eastern telecoms, corporate communication systems, cybersecurity, and smart cities in countries stretching from Morocco to the Gulf.
Chinese involvement runs the gamut from building 5G systems and data centres to providing cloud services and developing artificial intelligence systems.
Investments in technology and knowledge transfers enable Arab autocracies to enhance their surveillance capabilities and Internet control.
Furthermore, countries like Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE have looked for inspiration in China’s restrictive cybersecurity legislation.
Days before Mr. Xi’s visit to Saudi Arabia, China’s foreign ministry released a report on ‘Sino-Arab Cooperation in a New Era’ that, according to Chinese media, misleadingly asserted that China “never seeks any geopolitical self-interest.”
China probably meant to say that it is not seeking to challenge the US position in the Gulf any time soon but intends to be the region’s major partner economically and in terms of technology, a focal point of US-Chinese rivalry.
Speaking last month at a regional security conference, senior Pentagon official Colin Kahl spelt out limits to Gulf-China technological Cooperation that the United States would seek to impose.
“If our closest allies and partners cooperate too deeply with China on the security side, it’ll create security risks for us. Getting into certain networks that create real cyber vulnerabilities and risks for us. Infrastructure that generates real intelligence risks for us, and networks that touch our military networks that create real risk for us, or a presence in certain countries that allow surveillance of our forces and what we’re doing in ways that presents a threat to us,” Mr. Kahl said.
Although Chinese 5G projects in Saudi Arabia, the UAE and elsewhere in the region have progressed despite US objections, Mr. Kahl left unaddressed whether they threatened to cross his threshold.
The Chinese foreign ministry report identified technology, agriculture, and investment as focal points of Chinese-Arab economic cooperation.
During his visit, Mr. Xi was likely to also angle for construction contracts for Mr. Bin Salman’s US$500 billion futuristic Red Sea city of Neom, as well as involvement in developing a Saudi defense and automotive industry.
For its part, Saudi Arabia will want to attract Chinese investment in its mining sector. Khalid Al Mudaifer, the kingdom’s deputy mining minister, said he is seeking US$170 billion by 2030.
In a bid to exploit strains in Saudi- and potentially UAE-US relations and uncertainty about America’s reliability as a security partner, the Chinese report asserted that “China has always believed that there is no such thing as a ‘power vacuum’ in the Middle East and that the people of the Middle East are the masters of the future and destiny of the region.”
Mr. Xi arrived in the kingdom as a US district court in Washington dismissed a lawsuit against Mr. Bin Salman and 20 others for the 2028 killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The court based its decision on a finding by the US government that Mr. Bin Salman enjoyed sovereign immunity.
On another note, the Chinese report predicted that China and the Arab world would continue to support each other’s counterterrorism and deradicalisation policies.
In stressing counterterrorism and deradicalisation, the report suggested that Gulf silence, and in the case of Saudi Arabia, endorsement of Mr. Xi’s brutal crackdown on Turkic Muslims in the north-western Chinese province of Xinjiang, reflected a more complex balance of power in the Chinese-Gulf relationship.
In other words, Gulf acquiescence is more than simply wanting to ensure that the region stays on China’s right side or seeking to shield autocracy from criticism as the preferred political system in both parts of the world.
Because the crackdown targets Islam as a faith, not just Turkic Muslims as a minority, Gulf support offers China badly needed Muslim endorsement, particularly from Saudi Arabia, the custodian of Islam’s two holiest cities, Mecca and Medina. In doing so, the support enhances Gulf leverage in relations with China.
At the same time, China’s framing of the crackdown as a fight against extremism, terrorism, and separatism legitmises the clampdown by Saudi Arabia and the UAE on any expression of political Islam.
For Mr. Gargash, the UAE diplomatic advisor, the Gulf’s ties to the United States and China fit neatly into a box. “Our trade relations increasingly look to the East, while our primary security and investment relations are in the West,” Mr. Gargash said.
The official did not mention increasingly close political ties to China, like in the case of Xinjiang or the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and that is where things potentially get messy.
The Biden administration excels in scoring its own goals, nowhere more so than in the Middle East. Missed in the…
Fostering a good bilateral relationship has been the key dynamic between Australia and Indonesia. The two countries have been cooperating…
Like all the previous cases that we have witnessed in the past few years, including Jordan, the UAE, Bahrain, Sudan,…
The oil rich African nation of Nigeria has 218 million inhabitants. Oil was first discovered in Nigeria in 1956. The…
Wading through the 18,000-word transcript of an hours-long meeting that President Vladimir Putin took with the “soldiers’ mothers” last Friday…
In early December, the Azerbaijani media reported about free of charge military supplies of Iran to Armenia amidst the growing…
Genetically Pakistan is a peace-loving nation and promotes friendly relations with all other nations, countries, and communities. It established diplomatic…
Why America Aims to Deindustrialize Europe
Women Participation in Workforce Of Pakistan: Is It A Gender Inequality?
Ukraine recruits fighters from Africa
Greek shipowners do not care about the boycott of Russian oil
The US military is operating in more countries than we think
Futuristic fields: Europe’s farm industry on cusp of robot revolution
Gung-ho statements by India’s jingoist military and civil leaders
Russia’s Military Diplomacy in Africa: High Risk, Low Reward and Limited Impact 
Copyright © 2021 Modern Diplomacy


Leave a Comment