By Ali Karbalaei

China’s influence in West Asia a breath of fresh air

March 12, 2023 - 20:46

TEHRAN- Beijing’s peaceful stance is a welcome approach to the U.S. military presence in the region.

The unexpected announcement of an Iranian-Saudi détente after seven years took the international community by surprise.

What has perhaps emerged as a bigger surprise is that the deal between Tehran and Riyadh was mediated by China and announced at a ceremony in the country’s capital Beijing.

While Iraq and Oman had tried to bring the two sides back together, it was the Chinese government that managed to clinch a deal in an impressive display of its diplomatic muscle. 

China previously avoided engaging in conflictual issues between countries beyond its borders, but that policy appears to be changing as it comes on the backdrop of Beijing’s peace proposal to end the Ukraine war that was appreciated by both Kyiv and Moscow.

For many decades, the dominant outside force in West Asia has been the United States, despite objections by a number of regional governments.

Washington has hundreds of military bases amid the Pentagon’s efforts to maintain the U.S. hegemonic presence in the region.

But that has come at deadly cost.  

Over the past two decades alone, the United States, under the name of its “war on terror”, has waged wars and triggered conflicts that has seen an unprecedented sharp rise in terrorism and terrorist groups.

With the blessing of Washington and its key regional ally, Israel, the newly formed terror groups under the so-called "war on terror" have killed hundreds of thousands of civilians, especially in Afghanistan Iraq, Syria and Libya. Millions of others have either been injured or displaced from their homes because of America's disastrous foreign policies.

While the U.S. waged war on Afghanistan, Iraq, and indirectly on Syria and Yemen, it has also played a major role in destabilizing West Asia by interfering and fomenting unrest and terror in countries such as Iran and Lebanon while at the same time using all its means to pit one country against the other in the region.

American arms manufacturers and the Zionist regime have been the main beneficiary as a result of Washington’s military adventurism at the expense of the vast number of civilian bloods that has been shed.

Some in West Asia have mistakenly relied on the U.S. for their security purposes, not realizing that once America’s interests are no served by that country, Washington simply abandons it along with all of its alleged security guarantees.

This has been witnessed in various times, most notably in Afghanistan?. To a lesser extent, Saudi Arabia has felt skeptic over the U.S. support for the war on Yemen.

China's role in securing the Saudi-Iran deal is a tricky test for the U.S.

Scenes of Wang Yi, a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and director of the Office of the Central Foreign Affairs Commission; Ali Shamkhani, the secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council; and Minister of State and National Security Adviser of Saudi Arabia Musaad bin Mohammed Al Aiban posing for pictures during a meeting in Beijing contains an element that is sure to make officials in Washington feel deeply uneasy.

The role of China as a peace broker in a region where the U.S. has long wielded influence will take the Pentagon aback. 

The White House says the U.S. is closely monitoring Beijing's behavior in West Asia and elsewhere. 

The wider picture will be viewed by Washington that some in West Asia have come to the conclusion that their dependency on the U.S. no longer serves their interests.

China has no military bases in West Asia. In fact, China has no bases anywhere in the world. 

The only Chinese soldiers based outside the country are the ones serving under the UN peacekeeping force in Africa.

Beijing does not wage wars, nor does it have any desire in waging or instigating wars or conflicts. It does not even seek to compete with the United States in the fields of economy or military. 

Experts say China is now the number one economic powerhouse in the world and that appeals to nations in West Asia and beyond.

Over the past decade, many have come to their senses that forging closer ties with China brings economic prosperity for their own people, with no strings attached. 

Unlike Washington, Beijing does not set conditions or ask favors from other countries who seek to trade and cooperate with it.

In a further sign that the Saudis are looking to forge closer ties with America's foes, last year Riyadh and Beijing held talks over the export of Saudi oil in the Chinese currency and not the dollar. 

The U.S. has been viewing China’s growing ties with regional countries as a threat to its own interests in West Asia, and for this reason it has raised tensions with China. 

It is U.S. aircraft carriers sailing next to Chinese waters and not the other way around. Washington has also made ludicrous accusations of a Chinese weather balloon that Beijing admitted strayed off course, as an espionage object and dramatically used fighter jets to shoot it down. 

The fear-mongering and disinformation campaign against China clearly hasn't worked as evidenced by Tehran and Riyadh signing a deal in Beijing to restore their full diplomatic relationship.

The U.S. military approach has brought nothing but disaster to West Asia, while the Chinese approach of advocating peace has been met with international praise, with the exception of the U.S. and Israel of course that sought to side with the Saudis to isolate Iran.

What will disappoint the U.S. the most is that the China-backed Iran-Saudi deal also offers the hope of calming the situation on the ground in other West Asian countries, such as Yemen, Lebanon and Iraq. 

Former senior American diplomat Jeffrey Feltman said China's role was the most significant aspect of the agreement.

"This will be interpreted - probably accurately - as a slap at the Biden administration and as evidence that China is the rising power," said Feltman, now a fellow at the Brookings Institution.

China's involvement in brokering the Iran-Saudi deal could have "significant implications" for Washington, said Daniel Russel, the top U.S. diplomat for East Asia under former President Barack Obama.

"The question is, whether this is the shape of things to come?" he said. "Could it be a precursor to a Chinese mediation effort between Russia and Ukraine when Xi visits Moscow?"

The declining U.S.-led world order has been so damaging that China now feels the time has come to step in and try to reverse the vast level of global instability the Pentagon has caused and no region is more insecure at the moment than West Asia.

It is perhaps fair to say that the days of the U.S. wielding its sinister influence in West Asia are slowly but surely coming to an end. 


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