Iran+Saudi Arabia+China Deal: Game Changer?

Front-coverGame Changer? Iran and Saudi Arabia’s breakthrough decision on 10th March 2023 – facilitated by China – may deeply polarize  the geopolitics. It seems that the world is divided into liberal democracies with Western values including North America, Israel and most parts of Europe and the rest of the world with more or less authoritarian regimes and huge raw material and energy resources. 

Economic blocks will have their effect also on security politics and ongoing conflicts.  Seems that Saudi Arabia and Iran are getting closer BRICS. BRICS countries – Brazil, Russia, China, India, South Africa – are among the world’s ten largest countries by population, area, and GDP, and the latter three are widely considered to be current or emerging superpowers. Turkey and Pakistan may be the next big candidates.  This huge economic cooperation might challenge the sc Petrodollar which is preeminent global currency for global investments.  Petrodollars are crude oil export revenues denominated in U.S. dollars. Last century Saudi Arabia agreed to settle oil transactions in dollars, which helped the dollar become the global reserve currency. The value of the dollar was greatly increased and Americans have enjoyed the benefits of Saudi help. Now World leading oil exporters (Russia, Saudi Arabia and Iran) are on the same side so Petroyuan might be coming.

In 2021, regional archrivals Saudi Arabia and Iran met more times than in the previous five years altogether. The four meetings in Baghdad, and one on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York, indicate continuity in the warming of bilateral relations that had been frozen since 2016. Back then, protesters attacked Saudi diplomatic missions in the Islamic republic following Riyadh’s execution of the Shiite Muslim cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr.

After 2016 the Sunni Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Shiite-majority Islamic Republic of Iran had been on opposite sides e.g. with regional conflicts in Yemen, Syria and Lebanon.  During the last years Saudi Arabia and Israel have tried to create a regional alliance against Tehran as Iran has been main threat against Israel via its nuclear program and proxy wars via Hizbollah and Hamas i.a.

Saudi Arabia’s concern has increased because of the growing shadow of Iran’s progress in its nuclear program and the lowering of the U.S. posture in the region, exemplified by the recent removal of Patriot missiles and THAAD air-defense systems from Saudi Arabia, the possibility of a U.S.-Iran mutual return to a renewed JCPOA, and the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. To express its growing dissatisfaction with U.S. Middle East policy, Saudi Arabia signed a military agreement with Russia in August 2021

The deal might end the wars in Yemen, Syria and the conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran.  However Israel is very concerned about the situation.  

Former prime minister Naftali Bennett on Friday 10th harshly criticized the restoration of ties between Saudi Arabia and Iran, saying it represented the failure of Israeli efforts to create a regional alliance against Tehran and laying the blame squarely on the Netanyahu government. “The restoration of relations between the Saudis and Iran is a serious and dangerous development for Israel that represents an Iranian diplomatic victory. It represents a critical blow to efforts to build a regional coalition against Iran.” 

Opposition leader and former Prime Minister Yair Lapid also slammed  the agreement calling it “a collapse of our regional defensive walls that we had been building against Iran.”

The deal via China demonstrates that U.S.’s influence and credibility in that region has diminished and that there is a new sort of international regional alignment taking place, which has empowered and given both Russia and China newfound influence and status.

Sources i.a: Joint Trilateral Statement by the People’s Republic of China, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and the Islamic Republic of Iran 

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