By Mohammad Mazhari

China, Russia, and Iran have their say in the region: Russian analyst

September 14, 2020 - 20:38

TEHRAN – The naval exercise in 2019 carried jointly by Iran, Russia and China in the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Oman sent a clear message to the U.S and its allies in the Persian Gulf region that these three countries “have their own policies in the region,” says a Russian expert on the Middle East at the Russian International Affairs Council.

“The joint naval exercise in 2019 definitely sent a signal to the U.S. and its allies in the (Persian) Gulf that China, Russia, and Iran have their say in the region,” Alexey Khlebnikov tells the Tehran Times.

Khlebnikov says that Iran, Russia, and China are partners and are interested in improving their bilateral relations while simultaneously trying to resist U.S. policies in the region.  

This is the text of the interview:

Q: Some analysts and politicians argue that Russia, China, and Iran are forming an alliance against Washington’s bullying, sanctions pressure, and use of the dollar as a weapon. They cite the Iran-China-Russia joint naval exercise in the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Oman in December 2019 as the signs of the emergence of such an alliance. What is your comment?

A: I would not rush into such conclusions because there is no such alliance between China, Iran, and Russia. 

Apparently, they are partners and develop their bilateral relations while simultaneously trying to withstand U.S. pressure on their economies. There is a common vision of how the international relations system should evolve to move towards polycentrism and respect for state sovereignty.

The joint naval exercise in 2019 definitely sent a signal to the U.S. and its allies in the (Persian) Gulf that China, Russia, and Iran have their say in the region.

However, in order to be a serious factor, such format has to become regular, but not ad hoc. Moreover, there is no military agreements or alliance between the states, which means that if an attack on one of them occurs, the rest are not obliged to assist it. That is to say that it is too premature to talk about the formation of the China-Iran-Russia alliance against the U.S. 

“People in both countries (Russia and Iran) do not know much about each other, and the majority of them receive information from Western media, which creates a rather dubious, if not negative, image.”

Q: Economic and scientific ties between Iran and Russia are not commensurate to their political ties. This is despite the fact that the two countries are immediate neighbors with rather large populations and great untapped potential. What are the impediments?

A: In the first place, it is the similarity of the structure of the countries’ economies. Both are energy exporters with limited technological and financial capabilities. This is why there are natural limits for developing ever-growing economic ties. 

The second reason is tough Western sanctions (especially U.S.) on Iran, which impede many Russian businesses from entering Iran.

The third is a lack of information about Iran in Russia and vice versa. People in both countries do not know much about each other, and the majority of them receive information from Western media, which creates a rather dubious, if not negative, image. 

Q: Please give your view of the U.S. failure at the UN Security Council to extend an arms embargo against Iran.

A: The U.S. acted in violation of the existing regulations, which was also opposed not only by Russia and China but also by some European countries. 
This is why it is pretty logical that the U.S. attempt to extend the embargo failed. However, the U.S. can always resort to unilateral sanctions and use secondary sanctions to prevent third countries from selling arms to Iran.

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