Iran and Saudi Arabia: a Chinese win-win
Pepe Escobar, April 7 2023 —
The single Iranian-Saudi handshake buried trillions of dollars of western divide-and-rule investments across West Asia, and has global leaders rushing to Beijing for global solutions.
The idea that History has an endpoint, as promoted by clueless neoconservatives in the unipolar 1990s, is flawed, as it is in an endless process of renewal. The recent official meeting between Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan al-Saud and Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian in Beijing marks a territory that was previously deemed unthinkable and which has undoubtedly caused grief for the War Inc. machine.
This single handshake signifies the burial of trillions of dollars that were spent on dividing and ruling West Asia for over four decades. Additionally, the Global War on Terror (GWOT), the fabricated reality of the new millennium, featured as prime collateral damage in Beijing.
Beijing’s optics as the capital of peace have been imprinted throughout the Global South, as evidenced by a subsequent sideshow where a couple of European leaders, a president, and a Eurocrat, arrived as supplicants to Xi Jinping, asking him to join the NATO line on the war in Ukraine. They were politely dismissed.
Still, the optics were sealed: Beijing had presented a 12-point peace plan for Ukraine that was branded “irrational” by the Washington beltway neocons. The Europeans – hostages of a proxy war imposed by Washington – at least understood that anyone remotely interested in peace needs to go through the ritual of bowing to the new boss in Beijing.
The irrelevance of the JCPOA
Tehran-Riyadh relations, of course, will have a long, rocky way ahead – from activating previous cooperation deals signed in 1998 and 2001 to respecting, in practice, their mutual sovereignty and non-interference in each other’s internal affairs.
Everything is far from solved – from the Saudi-led war on Yemen to the frontal clash of Persian Gulf Arab monarchies with Hezbollah and other resistance movements in the Levant. Yet that handshake is the first step leading, for instance, to the Saudi foreign minister’s upcoming trip to Damascus to formally invite President Bashar al-Assad to the Arab League summit in Riyadh next month.
It’s crucial to stress that this Chinese diplomatic coup started way back with Moscow brokering negotiations in Baghdad and Oman; that was a natural development of Russia stepping in to help Iran save Syria from a crossover NATO-Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) coalition of vultures.
Then the baton was passed to Beijing, in total diplomatic sync. The drive to permanently bury GWOT and the myriad, nasty ramifications of the US war of terror was an essential part of the calculation; but even more pressing was the necessity to demonstrate how the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), or Iran nuclear deal, had become irrelevant.
Both Russia and China have experienced, inside and out, how the US always manages to torpedo a return to the JCPOA, as it was conceived and signed in 2015. Their task became to convince Riyadh and GCC states that Tehran has no interest in weaponizing nuclear power – and will remain a signatory of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
Then it was up to Chinese diplomatic finesse to make it quite clear that the Persian Gulf monarchies’ fear of revolutionary Shi’ism is now as counter-productive as Tehran’s dread of being harassed and/or encircled by Salafi-jihadis. It’s as if Beijing had coined a motto: drop these hazy ideologies, and let’s do business.
And business it is, and will be: better yet, mediated by Beijing and implicitly guaranteed by both nuclear superpowers Russia and China.
Hop on the de-dollarization train
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) may exhibit some Soprano-like traits, but he’s no fool: he instantly saw how this Chinese offer morphed beautifully into his domestic modernization plans. A Gulf source in Moscow, familiar with MbS’ rise and consolidation of power, details the crown prince’s drive to appeal to the younger Saudi generation who idolize him. Let girls drive their SUVs, go dancing, let their hair down, work hard, and be part of the “new” Saudi Arabia of Vision 2030: a global tourism and services hub, a sort of Dubai on steroids.
And, crucially, this will also be a Eurasia-integrated Saudi Arabia; future, inevitable member of both the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and BRICS+ – just like Iran, which will also be sitting at the same communal tables.
From Beijing’s point of view, this is all about its ambitious, multi-trillion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). A key BRI connectivity corridor runs from Central Asia to Iran and then beyond, to the Caucasus and/or Turkey. Another one – in search of investment opportunities – runs through the Arabian Sea, the Sea of Oman, and the Persian Gulf, part of the Maritime Silk Road.
Beijing wants to develop BRI projects in both corridors: call it “peaceful modernization” applied to sustainable development. The Chinese always remember how the Ancient Silk Roads plied Persia and parts of Arabia: in this case, we have History Repeating Itself.
A geopolitical revolution
And then comes the Holy Grail: energy. Iran is a prime gas supplier to China, a matter of national security, inextricably linked to their $400 billion-plus strategic partnership deal. And Saudi Arabia is a prime oil supplier. Closer Sino-Saudi relations and interaction in key multipolar organizations such as the SCO and BRICS+ advance the fateful day when the petroyuan will be definitely enshrined.
China and the UAE have already clinched their first gas deal in yuan. The high-speed de-dollarization train has already left the station. ASEAN is already actively discussing how to bypass the dollar to privilege settlements in local currencies – something unthinkable even a few months ago. The US dollar has already been thrown into a death by a thousand cuts spiral.
And that will be the day when the game reaches a whole new unpredictable level.
The destructive agenda of the neocon leaders in charge of US foreign policy should never be underestimated. They exploited the 9/11 “new Pearl Harbor” pretext to launch a crusade against the lands of Islam in 2001, followed by a NATO proxy war against Russia in 2014. Their ultimate ambition is to wage war against China before 2025.
However, they are now facing a swift geopolitical and geoeconomic revolt of the World’s Heartland – from Russia and China to West Asia, and extrapolating to South Asia, Southeast Asia, Africa and selected latitudes in Latin America.
The turning point came on 26 February, 2022, when Washington’s neocons – in a glaring display of their shallow intellects – decided to freeze and/or steal the reserves of the only nation on the planet equipped with all the commodities that really matter, and with the necessary nous to unleash a momentous shift to a monetary system not anchored in fiat money.
That was the fateful day when the cabal, identified by journalist Seymour Hersh as responsible for blowing up the Nord Stream pipelines, actually blew the whistle for the high-speed de-dollarization train to leave the station, led by Russia, China, and now – welcome on board – Iran and Saudi Arabia.